Having been an entrepreneur running a market research firm for eight years, I did not give too much thought to how I would handle motherhood and work. Juggling, creating value, and keeping a keen eye on productivity were already familiar hurdles I had already crossed — or so I thought!
Very early into a somewhat complicated pregnancy, I knew that I would have to change certain aspects of my orientation if I was ever to be productive again; I don’t mean that as a hyperbole. Along with warmly welcoming motherhood, I was left wondering whether I could continue the business I had built.
While it has been and still continues to be a wobbly journey to finding my footing as a CEO mommy, here are several tips I’ve picked up along the way, which can help to keep the lights on even as your little bub requires more and more from you.
1. Compartmentalize your life
Divide your days and hours into blocks and devote 100% of your time within any specific block to whatever task you’ve assigned it. One of the great things about being a business owner is the flexibility it allows — you are not restricted to a strict schedule of work.
If you have to make dinner by 6pm, play peek-a-boo with bubba till 8pm, and then hit that laptop till 11pm, then do it. Trying to answer emails while playing peek-a-boo is the key to being frustrated and burning out. Whatever you set out to do, try to be present for the time assigned to it.
2. Delegate with gusto
It will not be perfect and it may take longer, but it will be done and sometimes that’s what’s most important. At work, break tasks into little bits and ask colleagues, friends, family — anyone— to help you get those little bits done.
At home, take the time to build a support system and don’t be shy to accept help from loved ones or to voice requests for domestic help — even if help doesn’t come in exactly the same format as it would if the task were completed by you.
There will be times when your spouse does not buy exactly the same diapers baby wears or the nanny does not feed the little one at the right time, but at least those tasks are done, and that truly is the big picture.
3. Ditch perfectionism
You will drop the ball. You will drop the ball more than once. There will be very little explanation (outside of yelling, “Can’t you see how busy my life is right now?”). Give yourself a little time to get back to your old levels of productivity.
Allow some lax time for deadlines and let those depending on you know that there will be just a little give or take. It is perhaps more important than ever to set yourself a task list except this time, success will look like crossing off two-thirds (or maybe even half?) of your list rather than the 100% get it done amazon that you are.
4. Prioritize Sleep
In this crazy world were everyone seems to be rushing to and fro, and there are incredibly much more tasks getting added than getting done, it may seem frivolous to be rigid about your beauty sleep. It is not.
Many studies have shown that sleep is one of the best ways to clear the mind (thereby increasing productivity), reduce stress, replenish depleted energy, and more (another is exercise). It can even help with weight loss!
If you are lucky and able, schedule in power naps and let everyone in your office know that you are not available during those hours. If you cannot, try to schedule in catch up naps during the weekend. Try just 20 minutes at a go for starters, and then increase gradually as you feel more confident about your sleep priority.
In the final analysis, what truly matters to all of us is that our loved ones are proud of us and proud of the person we’ve become along the way. No matter what your choices, your child will most likely look over your body of work and be proud of the courage it took to follow your dreams and fulfill your potential.
So don’t be afraid to explore and find your own rhythm —in whatever quirky combination— so long as it works for you and your family, then you will already be quite a success and inspiration!