Working as a mama, you pretty quickly learn the true meaning of efficiency in the workplace (and at home.) Here are our top 10 tips for setting yourself up for getting back into the groove fast at work:
- Block out regular breaks: An hour, every day, in your calendar. Even if you don’t take the full hour, everyone will start booking meetings around your break if it’s blocked out. Booking in ‘desk time’ until 9:30AM and from 4:30PM will also help you start and end each day without a crazy panic.
- Work from home one day a week: If your workplace is flexible, this can be a lifesaver. Without commute times, you can plough through tasks without distractions (and put on the occasional load of washing).
- Out of office: For part-time mamas, set up your out-of-office for days you won’t be there. Here’s a suggested message you can cut and paste:
Thank you for your email.
Please note my work days are [enter in your ‘in office’ days.] For anything urgent, please contact [insert your manager’s contact details.] Otherwise I will respond to your email as soon as possible when I am back in the office.
Thank you, [insert your name.]
- Email signature: Part-time mamas, you may want to add your work days to the bottom of your email signature.
- Have two phones: If you’re working part-time and have a work phone, you may want to weigh up the cost of getting an extra personal phone. It’s an easy way to compartmentalise work and family time. On days at home with your kids, time is less likely to be interrupted by a work call or a sneaky check of your emails.
- Hold firm on your work days and hours: Take it from our first-hand experience, working part-time means you might be tempted to compromise days with your kids with a ‘little bit of work’ or the occasional work call that you’re not being paid for. We’ve seen a lot of return to work mamas fall into this trap because they feel grateful to work part time, then over-compensate by being available on days off. Don’t start this because once you do, it’s hard to go back.
- Take days in lieu: If you do end up working additional hours regularly or have to come into the office on a day off, talk to your manager about taking a day in lieu. It’s only fair.
- Purchase extra leave: Some organisations will let you buy additional leave (generally one or two weeks a year) as a flexible way to help you manage work and personal commitments. The value of the annual leave is deducted from your pre-tax monthly salary in equal amounts over a 12-month period. It’s a good way to give you more flexibility and family time. Check out your work’s intranet for policy details.
- Be organised: This will make the two crazy times of the day easier. You know what we mean: the morning rush and any time post-5PM. The night before, lay out kids’ clothes and prepare their bags, sort your own clothes, and prepare dinner or pull something out from the freezer.
- Make time for exercise: Regular exercise tends to suffer for busy working mums. Be creative: can you alternate morning duties with your partner before work so you can hit a 6AM gym class or go for a run? There are plenty of personal trainers who will come to your workplace and train a group at lunch time. Or just take a walk during your break. Every little bit counts, and investing in regular exercise helps your mind as much as your body.
Being a working mama is a constant juggle. It gets easier and in no time at all, you will find yourself holding another mama’s hand who has recently returned and is now walking in your more experienced shoes.
Written by the team at Circle In