For those of us with children, there isn’t just one ‘new year’ in each 12-month period. In fact, the start of the school year in September can feel like much more of a fresh start than January.
Whether your kids are little or heading quickly towards adulthood themselves, you might be thinking that September is a good time to get back to work or take the next step on your career ladder.
But with the summer holiday looming, do you really have time to undertake a project as important as job hunting?
Well, here at 2to3days we believe in work-life integration. We believe that it is completely possible to get to the end of August and feel that you’ve had a lovely time with your family while also achieving what you wanted to for yourself.
It’s all about getting into the right mindset, getting efficient with your time and keeping your eye on the prize: a flexible role that you can integrate into your life all year round. Here are our tips for having a really productive summer and getting ready for a new start in September.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve
Goal setting is an essential first step for getting anything done. It starts with setting an obtainable vision – the art to setting a great vision is get clear on what you what you want to achieve but also to be able to articulate and ‘own’ how you want to feel about achieving this goal. For example, wanting to write your CV by the end of the summer holidays is a great goal but if you are dreading it you will probably find every excuse in the book to avoid doing it. But if you can focus on the feeling you will have when you have finished it - excitement or relief perhaps - then you are halfway there!
Do this step sooner rather than later to give yourself plenty of time to plan in how and when each task will be accomplished - also be aware that life rarely runs smoothly so you will, in all probability hit metaphorical road bumps along the way, like sick children, bad weather or, let’s get real, your own lack of self belief that your ideal role exists - we are here to tell you it does and you need to be ready to grab when you see it.
Rather than overwhelming yourself by focusing on too much, pick the main tasks you want to achieve in this period and prioritise them. For example, you may want to include tasks like updating your LinkedIn profile, rewriting your CV, or applying for particular roles.
By breaking up that larger goal of finding a new job into bitesized chunks, you’ll find it easier to achieve. And as each task is ticked off, you will feel satisfied and motivated to get on with the next one.
Set expectations at home
Depending on the ages of your children, you may be able to have a conversation with them about what you’re hoping to achieve over the summer. If they are young you can work around their nap times or early bedtimes. With older children explain to them what you are looking to achieve and ask for their support to give you a bit of ‘me time’ so that you all get to do what you want.
If you’re in a relationship make sure your other half knows what your goals are, and discuss how they can support you. Perhaps they can take on more chores, take the children out for the day, or even help with things like proofreading your CV.
You may be sceptical about how well this will work but you won’t know if you don’t try. This is about setting your intent and asking for your family’s support so you can do what you need to for you.
Use your time wisely by doubling up
As a mother you’ll naturally want to maximise the time you spend with your children during the school holidays. That means being clever about when you fit your career planning tasks in.
If you think that you can’t do stuff for yourself when the kids are around, think again! Work-life integration is all about adopting a new mindset that blends the two in a way that serves you and your family.
Think about how you can double up on your time and be more efficient, so you can work smarter, not harder. Catch up with contacts on the phone while walking your dog or brush up on your skills by listening to a podcast whilst sunbathing on holiday.
And remember that those moments when your kids are happily distracted - whether they’re playing in the garden, watching a bit of TV, or engrossed in a book - can be a chance for you to peruse job ads or do a bit of CV polishing. You don’t always need to dedicate several hours to a task.
Make the most of networking
Networking isn’t just a formal activity where people do 60-second pitches and hand out business cards over coffee or lunch. In fact networking can happen absolutely anywhere including the places you least expect, such as watching your teenager play in a football match, or spending a rainy afternoon at the soft play centre. The majority of people are only too happy to help and you will be amazed at the connections you can make by being open to it.
Don’t forget you
Remember, you don’t have to sprint through the summer. Do things in intervals and reward yourself at each stage. Being a great mum and having a fulfilling and successful career are eminently possible.
It’s about being aware of what you want to achieve, breaking it down into doable chunks and coming up with a plan that works for you and your family, and then sticking to it. Follow our guidelines and you will not only get to spend quality time with the family without feeling guilty over the summer but you’ll be in a brilliant frame of mind to see in September with new job goals, a fresh CV and an effective LinkedIn profile.
Plan ahead, organise and get ready to embrace the ‘back-to-school’ vibe and your summer may well be the most productive you’ve ever had.
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