A busy working mother promises her grade-schooler a homemade delicacy for the school bake sale. Having been shamed by the “stay-at-home” moms, she is crushed when she can’t follow through on her promise and instead purchases a pie which she artfully “distresses” and, voila – her secret is safe and her daughter delighted.
This is the opening scene of the new Sarah Jessica Parker movie, I Don’t Know How She Does It, from the book of the same name. While it may be slightly exaggerated, in an informal poll I recently took of working moms, it’s a pretty close take on their reality.
That said, I also know that if you ever want something done and done well, ask a busy person! How do they do it? Here are four fabulous secrets.
Know how to say “no” – There will be times when you have to focus on completing something critical at work or in your personal life, and you will have to say no to a request. Do not let guilt get in the way. Politely decline and don’t apologize or feel that you need to explain. Keep it simple and to the point.
Let people do their jobs – Always ask, ‘Is it completely necessary for ME to do this?’ before you begin a task. Do you do things out of habit, or because it’s easier than explaining to a colleague or even your kids whose responsibility it really is? Know your role and make sure others know theirs.
Aggregate appointments – The doctor’s, the hairdresser’s or your child’s school, appointments are the bane of the working person. At the beginning of the year, make a list of all the known appointments and schedule as many as you can on the same day. Schedule them geographically to save even more time.
Curate and organize your website preferences – Are there a dozen or so sites that rock your world at work as well as at home? Keep them in your favorites or as shortcuts so they are always at your fingertips.
Got any other tips that make your friends and colleagues wonder “how you do it?” Let us know here.