career

You’ve come a long way baby but have you got the balance right? 5 tips for balancing your career and time

The slogan “you’ve come a long way baby” comes from a Virgina Slims cigarette commercial in 1968 and signifys the start of the womens movement in America. The advertisement showed an image of a confident, tall, slender, trouser suit-wearing woman, career getting female. Fast forward and women over fifty and their career pathway have come a long way from years ago. There are three times more women aged 50-64 working part-time than men (The State of Ageing in 2020) however despite a rapid increase, the employment rate for women aged 50-64 is still nine percentage points behind men (The State of Ageing in 2020). This is in part to pension age rise in 2011 and more recently the cost of living however it’s apparent that more and more women at fifty are still active within the workforce.

Many women in our network are also stepping into their best roles at board level or reinvigorating their careers and setting up their own businesses. Listening to you we know this extended career pathway is not without its challenges and comes with its own unique challenges. This is especially true for those of you in the sandwich generation, who need to juggle caring for children, or support university aged children, care for elderly family members, as well as their own professional ambitions, which can be daunting at times. In fact all a bit of a juggling act.

To help manage your busy lifestyle, here are five tips:

1) Prioritize your time wisely – When you’re trying to balance a career with other obligations such as parenting, older-age caretaking or any other responsibilities you may have outside of work, it’s essential to prioritize your time wisely. Set realistic goals each day and focus on what needs to get done first. Break large projects into smaller tasks that are easier to finish in shorter amounts of time.

2) Increase efficiency – One way to maximize your productivity is by becoming more efficient in how you use your time. For example, when possible try to consolidate errands or combine tasks that require similar steps; you’ll save yourself a lot of valuable time this way. Also look for ways to automate mundane tasks such as bill payments so that you can concentrate on the things that matter most.

3) Utilize technology – Technology can be invaluable when it comes to increasing productivity. Try using apps and automated software programs where applicable; this will help lighten your workload considerably and give you more free time during the day. Technology can also come in handy when setting up alerts or reminders so that important tasks don’t get overlooked or forgotten about altogether.

4) Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed; friends, family members or even professionals can provide assistance with activities like childcare or elder care on an occasional basis if needed. Delegate to university aged children where possible and help them to be as independent as they can. Having reliable people available can make an enormous difference in terms of stress relief and peace of mind while allowing you to stay focused on your job performance without worrying too much about household tasks slipping through the cracks.

5) Stay organized – Staying organized is one of the most effective ways to manage a busy lifestyle since it allows all areas of life (job duties/responsibilities as well as personal obligations) to move along smoothly and efficiently without getting bogged down by chaos due to disorganization. Investing some time upfront into developing systems or processes (list-making/follow-up calls/filing systems etc.) will make life much easier in the long run so don’t overlook its importance!

Finally, don’t forget YOU, allow yourself time to eat well and exercise.Taking care of your body through exercise and diet is key for women. Staying physically active and eating well will not only improve and maintain your general health but increase concentration in the workplace thus allowing for a continuing successful career.

Author: Ciara Moore

Ciara is the founder of female leaders at 50. and an advocate for lifestyle medicine.

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Starting with me – Leadership, Home, Motherhood: Esther Kuku. Our second anniversary special edition blog from our Women Behind the Network Series

Starting with me…

Working life

The morning after my wedding,  I woke up next to my husband in our hotel honeymoon suite, I was living the dream. Not long after there was a knock on the door and my new step-children charged into the room, my heart sank. I longed for the romance of a first family experience, suddenly it all felt like a nightmare, on day one.

The biggest leadership training ground I have encountered, thus far,` has been my home. The founder of Visa, Dee Hock said, if you want to lead, invest 40% of your time in leading yourself.

His overarching principle is that without exceptional management of self, no one is fit for authority no matter how much they acquire.

The first few years of being a step parent I had to learn to keep my mouth shut and just be patient. Gosh, it was so hard. After all, I was the entitled newly-wed, desperate to be the perfect wife and step-mum. I wanted to change everything in our home – immediately; I moved into the house my husband lived in with his ex wife.  I wanted new rules – new wall paper, new everything. Well that wasn’t going to work – it wasn’t long before I could see the negative impact my management of our home was having on us all.

And, most importantly on my bonus babies – who were 6 and 8 when I married their dad and had gone through a divorce.  

Born out of loss, or failure, step families can be complex and exhausting. The reality is that for many couples it’s through re-designed dreams and re-packaged plans a new-life unfolds. A new life that needs time to adapt and grow. Flexibility and respect  for difference are better predictors of success than trying to force togetherness and just becoming exhausted in the process. I was pushing too much.

The principles of not forcing relationships, or togetherness and having respect are very transferrable to leadership in a working environment.  We don’t have to like our bosses, but we do have to do what they say. If you have a step-child they don’t have to like you, but they do have to respect you when they are in your house. And, if you are a step-parent the most important people are the children – they do have to come first. 

I’ve had a few jobs and being a step-mum has been the hardest one of all, but also incredibly rewarding. Investing time in leading myself means I’ve learnt to invest time in managing my emotions that what I want most is not to be right, but to be happy. ( I am right, most of the time…).

Today, I have four children who follow me because they are inspired by who I am – not by what I do. In fact none of them really care what I do. When I leave the house to go to work every morning. They just want to know I’m coming home and that it’s a peaceful home.

 If I can ensure that peace for the majority of the time, then I think I’m doing ok on my leadership journey.

— 

Esther Kuku
love God, love life, love people.

Twitter: @mew36