As someone who fills a wide variety of roles, including ‘Hayley Lewis’ the – mother, wife, small business owner, television presenter and brand ambassador I know some might consider me a woman who ‘has it all’.
In response to this, there is one question I am asked over and over by the women I come into contact with.
How do you have the time?
While ‘having it all’ means something different to everyone, the one thing I know is it has taken years of learning; persevering and hard work to accomplished the things that I have.
Everything I treasure, my wonderful family, my business Coming Up Roses, and the work I do as brand ambassadors for clients, like First Class Accounts, takes commitment, hard work, and, you guessed it, time.
So how do I do it? How do I manage to keep my kids healthy and happy, my husband content, the house clean, my business flourishing and my own hair brushed and shoes matching?
In the hope I might be able to help any new Mums, business owners or women in general who are having trouble getting themselves dressed, fed and to work on time I have put together a few of the timesaving, labour saving tips and tricks I’ve picked up in the 13 years since I left the pool.
Use a paper based diary/calendar/organiser
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. It does not do to rely on your phone, invitations on the fridge and Facebook events to remember important dates coming up in your life.
I understand it doesn’t come naturally to most people to carry a diary around, but it only takes three weeks to make a habit, so start today.
Get one that fits in your handbag (but not so small you can’t fit anything in it) and write everything in it.
It sounds funny, but the more you use it, the more you will use it. It also doesn’t hurt to have a separate calendar permanently next to your phone or computer at home or at the office that you write everything into as well just to cover all your bases.
Use a schedule
Following on from point number one, I find that I achieve a lot more if I spend 10 minutes in the morning planning what I want to get done that day.
I just jot down a dot point list in my diary, and cross items off the list when I complete them which is very satisfying.
This tip is the most recent one I have garnered, the key with this one is to be realistic, don’t allow 10 minutes to prepare for a meeting that will need 30, or an hour to clean the whole house when you get home after work, because you’ll constantly be running behind, which causes stress and jobs being left unfinished.
Knowing what you want out of the day helps avoid wasting any time, and allows you to focus completely on the job at hand, as your mind isn’t constantly wandering onto other things that need doing.
My rule is don’t leave anything until tomorrow if it can be done today.
Very simple things, like planning your outfit for the next day, can make a huge difference in the time it takes to get ready in the morning.
I don’t even set the clothes out, I just mentally make a note of what I’m going to wear, and the next morning I know exactly what to grab out of the wardrobe to avoid the awful ‘I have nothing to wear/I look terrible in all my clothes’ disaster that we all go through from time to time and can take hours to rectify.
Another little thing I do is always make lunches while I’m making dinner. Most of the time this is just a case of making a bit extra of whatever I’m cooking.
However, if we are having something that doesn’t work so well the next day, or might not be the easiest option for lunch at school or work (I’m looking at you chicken fajitas), I’ll still put together everyone’s lunch while I’m there, in the kitchen, dealing with food and making a mess anyway.
This way, at the end of dinner we can clean up and I can relax knowing the next morning I’ll just have to get dressed and go.
Trust your support network
For whatever reason, we women feel as though we should be able to do it all without any help.
I was the same, until, one day, I realised it was affecting my happiness. So, don’t be afraid to use the support available to you, there are people around you who love you and want to help.
My partner is an amazing support person for me, helping with the kids, housework and more, but for you it might be friends, family or colleagues.
The next step, after enlisting the help of these people, is trusting them to do the job you’ve asked them to. Your mother-in-law raised your partner, so there’s a good chance she can look after your children for two hours each afternoon without a minute by minute schedule of what needs to be done.
Get professional help
When I started my first business I wanted to do everything. I wanted to know every little detail of what was happening and make every decision. This is only natural.
But no one is the best at everything, and ultimately trying to do everything yourself will only harm yourself and your business.
So get help. For example, a company I work with is First Class Accounts, they are professional bookkeepers that take care of the financial side of my business.
I am not naturally skilled in this type of work, so being able to leave this side of the business to them allows me to focus on other aspects of my store knowing that the accounts will be taken care of with far more skill than I could hope to achieve.
Alternatively, you may hire a house cleaner, or a nanny, or someone to manage your business’s social media presence.
My point is recognise when someone else may be more qualified then you to do a job, or you need help to give you some time back and then focus your energy on the areas you can be most productive in.
Ultimately, no one can have it all, all the time. Even with the handy tips above, there will be days that make you want to curl up under the doona and not come out.
But, with a bit of organisation, knowing your priorities and setting realistic goals, a healthy, successful work life balance is possible for everyone.