In a study released by the New York Times in May 2020 on pandemic-era domestic work, women working remotely full-time reported spending more time than their partners helping children with remote learning (80%) and being most responsible for child care (65%)—a number that rose to 70% for women with children under 12.
The pandemic has made it near impossible to find a balance between work and home life, and moms are now left to figure out how to manage their career and care for their kids in the same eight-hour window. This is no easy feat for working moms, especially those with demanding jobs, and has resulted in over 800,000 women leaving the workforce in September alone.
Working mothers are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, and now with things about to get even crazier with the holidays approaching, it’s important we have the resources and tools to help set boundaries between work and mom duties and manage it all seamlessly. As a working mom myself to a preschooler (without a preschool) and a newborn, and co-founder of a productivity software company, these are my tried and true productivity tips that will help even the busiest moms better manage her time and stay on task.
Make Your Calendar Work for You
A well-managed calendar is key to staying in control of your day during these chaotic times, and there are two key things you can do to prevent your calendar from owning you.
First, is setting aside at least 15 minutes at the end of every day that I refer to as “Brain Defrag” time. This is one of the most important recurring events I reserve on my calendar as it ensures I’m giving myself time to review what I didn’t get done and make a prioritized to-do list for the following day, review my calendar for the next day to better help plan out my day, and see if I missed anything urgent in my inbox.
Next is blocking off pre-determined slots each week that will only be for meetings and calls—especially now that we’re relying solely on Zoom and phone calls to meet with coworkers. This will not only prevent scheduling headaches but will also help protect and allocate your time to working on time sensitive projects or caring for the kids. In addition, you can start implementing smart tools to do the hard work for you by suggesting meeting times based on your availability in real-time.
Take Control of Your Inbox
While working moms are expert multitaskers, our inbox can still be a huge hindrance to our productivity, even if we don’t realize it. There are a few different practices to implement to avoid falling into the trap of an overloaded inbox.
First, be sure to set calendar reminders for important meetings and deadlines, and archive messages that don’t need immediate attention—using email technology will help identify important emails and bring non-urgent emails back to your inbox when they need attention. This will help you focus on what’s most important instead of the clutter.
Next, consider pausing your inbox. It might seem odd that someone who started an email productivity company would instruct you to not check your email, but I do it every day to create uninterrupted time to work on anything pressing.
Lastly, and this can take some getting used to, is to check and respond to email in batches. Choose a few times a day that will be dedicated to email to prevent it from being a distraction. Research shows that in 20 minutes, you should be able to clear about 51 emails from your inbox. Start with the most recent email and work your way down, being sure to unsubscribe from any unnecessary newsletters or other marketing emails as you go. If an email takes longer than three minutes to handle, archive it and address later as long as it’s not urgent. If it’s time sensitive, turn the email into an entry on a to-do list or schedule time to work on it.
Write Effective Emails
When writing an email, you want to make sure the goal is clearly defined. There are multiple AI-powered tools to help gauge the efficacy of your email by monitoring word count, tone and call to action. A few quick tips are to keep your word count low, keep a positive tone and be intentional about the words you’re using. I’ve found this has resulted in far less back-and-forth email!
Trust the Process
It’s easy to lose sight of the process and get wrapped up in the results, so this is my reminder to all working moms to take a step back, focus on the things you can control and put your best foot forward every day—the desired results will follow.
As working moms, we’re constantly pulled into different directions, so taking the time to break down critical parts of your day into processes and focus on how to best optimize them to consistently achieve positive results. Time management is a critical skill for all working moms who wear a variety of different hats on any given day. Building and following processes that help you get some valuable time back and prioritize what’s most important will make all the difference—no matter how crazy life gets!