In modern Western societies, most of us have more than we have ever had before: well-paid jobs, social welfare and a wealth of consumer goods. On the surface, we should all be quite happy – but, of course, so many of us just aren’t.

A great deal of stress and misery in modern life comes from our inability to find enough time to both develop our career and enjoy our personal life. Most of us feel like we have to give up one of these essential goals and concentrate solely on the other. But this isn’t true. We don’t have to give up our job, nor spend every waking moment slaving away at it.

Manage interruptions at work. Interruptions have always been a reality of work, as meetings, text or chat messages, emails, and conversations with co-workers endlessly fragment our time and thus our attention. Interruptions kill our productivity, take away our focus, and can wreak havoc on our motivation. Yet we treat them as a given in today’s work culture. The best way to minimise interruptions is to take some proactive steps to avoid them. Unfortunately, interruptions happen, so it’s how you deal with them that matters. Be proactive and have some smart strategies to get back on track, and you’ll be more productive.

Make the most of flexibility. Today, full-time employees are afforded some sort of flexibility, and it’s important that you make the most of it. This flexibility goes in both directions: it allows you to leave work earlier in family emergencies, but also allows you to work from home, so that when the kids are in bed you’re able to catch up on what didn’t get done during the day. There are several approaches to increasing flexibility in your job. If you work long hours and want to find more time to spend with your family, you could start working split shifts.

Manage your work schedule to make it more efficient. Scheduling is the art of planning your activities so that you can achieve your goals and priorities in the time you have available. A simple and easy way to keep a schedule is to use a pen and paper, organising your time using a weekly planner. (Click here for a free downloadable planner template to get started.) You can also use apps and software such as Google Calendar, MS Outlook and Business Calendar. Choose a scheduling tool that suits your situation, the current structure of your job, your personal taste, and your budget. The most important thing when choosing your planner is that it lets you enter data easily and allows you to view an appropriate span of time (day/week/month) in the level of detail that you need. Time management isn’t this elusive form of Black Magic that so few understand. In fact, anyone can efficiently manage their time as long as they get organised first. Without organisation, it’s difficult to see just what needs to be accomplished in the day and how important each of those things are to your long-term goals. When you get organised with your time, you not only increase your ability to manage your daily tasks effectively, but you also increase the likelihood of putting time where it really counts: towards those long-term goals that you harbour deep down inside. If you’ve never done any goal setting in the past, now is the time to get started because it’s an absolute must-have prerequisite to effective time management.

The importance of family time. Spending quality time with your family requires some planning and the same motivation as your work life does. But remember being around your family and being with your family are two different things.
Being active together is a great opportunity to spend quality time, and exercise is a proven mood booster.

Working mothers should make time for their romantic life. Working moms have it tough. Being committed fully to work and family is an impossible task that working moms have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless, being perceived as not fully present as an employee or a mother. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to pursue a fulfilling full-time career while taking an active role as a mother, if you learn to find a balance that works for your life. The key to finding time for romantic moments in your busy schedule is making it a priority and being creative with timing. Seize opportunities and savor moments as they come – you don’t have to have each moment carefully planned.

Let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism can affect the way that you feel, think and act. Before you can change this, it is important to be able to identify the signs of perfectionism. To overcome perfectionism, you will first need to recognise it. This also means that you would benefit from identifying and labelling perfectionist thoughts as and when they arise in your mind.

Build personal space and time. So you’ve made time for work, for your family and for your partner. Now it’s time to make time for yourself – get creative in your leisure time. Creative leisure time can include picking fresh fruit, garden work in general, going to the opera or knitting. Finally, remember that you’re allowed to take a personal day off from time to time. Use your holiday time before you get tired of working, and out yourself first.

The key message is:
As working mothers, we want to do it all: build a career, raise a family and find personal time. But doing so requires some balancing and organising, as well as letting go of your perfectionist demands.