What Work-Life Balance Really Looks Like
How to successfully focus time, energy, and resources on what matters most.
By Doreen Steenland
April 28, 2021
Moms, balancing our work and home demands is not an easy task. Many times the demands of the day leave us drained and unprepared for re-entry into the family time and filled with guilt! The first thing that I want to say is this: Moms, you rock! Moms who work outside the home are carrying a heavy burden to juggle it all. A study conducted by Pew Research states that 40% of working women feel as if there is not enough time in the day and feel rushed. This feeling of not having enough time causes us to multitask. The thoughts and our feelings that we entertain translate to our actions and results. (More on this later)
We’ve been conditioned to think that multitasking is a good thing, when in fact, in most cases, it’s not! Multitasking is only efficient when all the tasks we are doing are related to the same outcome according to Dave Crenshaw. Let me give you an example. When we are driving our cars, we are multitasking. “Driving a car involves checking the rearview mirror, watching the odometer, looking at the side mirrors, checking blind spots, oh and watching the road ahead of you through the windshield.” (Gupta, 2016)
Our brains now do these actions naturally without much thought or energy, they are automatic responses that we have learned through the years.
We’ve been conditioned to think that multitasking is a good thing, when in fact, in most cases, it’s not The truth is most times our multitasking is really switch-tasking. Switch tasking is what happens in our brains when we are being distracted from our goal and switching back and forth between our project and checking emails, texts, social media, or notifications. This switch tasking decreases our productivity by 40% and is the equivalent to working stoned. Every time we switch tasks, our brain leaves behind this residue called attention residue. This attention residue leaves us feeling foggy, unclear, distracted. What is the effect of the switching of tasks? The effect is decreased productivity, feeling like we are not doing enough, and we are not being enough. (Oberbrunner, Unhackable)
As moms, we usually lead the charge towards change and growth. What if we changed the way we work and changed the way we do life at home? With my background in transformational neuroscience, I’d like to leave you with a few ways that you can work more focused and learn to be more present for your family when you are with them. There are many changes we can make, far beyond the scope of this article.
Our goal as moms is to work more efficiently when we are working and connect more deeply when we are together with our families.
For our purposes, I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts to ponder.
While at work, practice deep work. Put your phone on airplane mode and log out of your email system while you work. While on airplane mode, give your total focus to one task at a time. You will be amazed how much more you accomplish in the time you have.
Notice the thoughts and emotions that you are experiencing about your situation. The thought that I don’t have enough time leaves you feeling behind and exhausted, which leads to impatience and task mastering when you walk through the door at home. Remember, our thoughts and emotions drive our actions and results. Take some time to reflect: What other thoughts might lead you to more effective interactions at home?
When you arrive home, leave your work behind. Commit to making your family time your family time by being fully present with those you love. I’d like to ask you to shift your thinking for a moment. Let’s begin to think of the dinner table as the boardroom at work. How do you show up for a board meeting? Maybe you turn our phone on silent, maybe you plan to pay attention to opportunities, maybe you look for creative solutions to solve a common problem, maybe you show up with a mindset of teamwork. As you think about how you show up for a board meeting, I bet you’re noticing that you show up to the boardroom prepared and intentional. Imagine what could happen if we showed up to the dinner table prepared for thoughtful conversation. Conversation that builds up and empowers our teens. A conversation that is intentional. (Moms, thoughtful conversation is NOT “did you get your assignments done?” or “did you pick up your socks?” – resist the urge!)
Imagine the feelings of connection that can occur if we show up with the mindset to connect instead of direct. How would that be different for you?
Imagine the feelings of connection that can occur if we show up with the mindset to connect instead of direct.