We are all increasingly being asked to do more with less; be more efficient and productive with an ever-decreasing pool of resources. As working mothers, we are often running at full blast at work and at home and something must give, and that something is often us. But what if we undertook a mind flip and instead focus on doing less with less?
Over 2019 I've increasingly focused on doing less with less, driven mainly by need to re-prioritise my life to deal with my perimenopausal symptoms. By accepting I can't carry on doing more with less energy I've allowed myself to focus on supporting the best version of me both at work and at home. Here's my top tips for doing less with less;
Undertake a time audit to find the source of your busyness. Laura Vanderkam is a massive advocate of time audits. She believes they help us not only figure out how we are spending our time but also allow us to identify our time blind spots. Laura has a great free tool you can download to start the process. I did a one-week time audit and found that often my busyness was actual overwhelming the outcomes I was seeking, pushing them further and further into the future.
Figure out what your best work looks like both at home and at work. We often get so involved in the day to day of our lives that we don't take the time to think about where we can make the biggest impact. We aren't going to be remembered for our dishwasher unpacking skills or the fact we take excellent meeting notes BUT we will be remembered for the impact we make. Give yourself some time to really think about your biggest achievements in the last year, what have people noticed and commented on, where have you had the biggest wins at work and at home. Then looks at your vision and values and think about where your biggest wins have coincided with you living the most authentic version of yourself -- that is your best work.
Minimize or delegate non-essential tasks. Understanding where you are making the largest contribution then allows you to maximise your time towards your impact. I used my time audit to put my daily actions into two buckets; communal tasks and impactful tasks. Anything in the communal tasks can be minimized, delegated or outsourced. Whenever any new work task or client enquiry comes in my first thought is who else in my team could answer this best. Similarly, at home I focus on who else can do the task. Learning to delegate is not easy and you can read how I learnt to be a delegation ninja here.
My delegation mantra is -- if needs to be done at all does it need to be done by me?'
Minimize decision fatigue. A key way to do less is to plan ahead, create repetition and reduce distraction. This means being more strategic about planning my day, re-evaluating your calendar and I've even started putting in place microboundaries at home and at work. At home it means batch cooking at the weekends so I don't cook during the week. My kids also have clear schedules of what needs to be in their bags on various days and what needs to be laid out before they go to bed so we don't have any morning craziness.
Schedule in space for uninterrupted thoughts. The idea of needing time for unstructured creative thinking goes all the way back to Virginia Wolf in 1929, who noted that women need a "room of their own". Society's expectations of mothers often create an expectation of endless service of others needs leaving ourselves little time for valuable unstructured creative thinking. This needs to change. If you don't have time to think you can't learn to increase your impact. Read my recent article here on how I've learnt to create both time and space for uninterrupted thought.
Scheduling in time for yourself is selfish and being selfish isn't a bad thing.
If you enjoyed this post please check out the rest of my blog here, including my post on the three cogs needed to ensure female progress and the importance of ground up allyship to really ensuring systemic cultural change.
All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.