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The Secret of Not Yelling When You’re Having a Bad Day

The Secret of Not Yelling When You’re Having a Bad Day

“I’ve tried really hard not to yell at my children. But sometimes I just can’t avoid it. I yell so hard, and then I feel so guilty afterwards. I know it isn’t really about what my children are doing, it’s just me, having a hard day and transferring the frustrations. Is it really possible to stop yelling? What’s the secret?” — Vivienne

 

 It is practicable to stop yelling and I can assure you that thousands of parents do it, some of whom I have personally engaged. The secret to this is empathy. I am not just talking about empathy for your children but empathy and compassion for yourself as well. Being emotionally generous is impossible when you are stressed, running on an empty emotional charge, or feeling inadequate. You know how dramatic you become when you’re stressed, how heightened your emotions become and how in that state everything seems worse. But when you get calm, you see with logic and reason and you’re able to respond without yelling. On the days you feel irritable, realize that it’s a part of your humanity. There’s no need to feel shame and there’s no need to blame anyone. Here’s a creative way to view this. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and imagine your irritation as a blinking light on your dashboard, when you notice it, do you ignore the light, and pull out the wire to stop the light from blinking or do you park your car somewhere safe to check it out? I bet you went with parking your car, yeah? That’s exactly what irritation is, a blinking light to inform you that something is off.

 

Which of these reactions are you prone to when your child is acting out in a manner you think is inappropriate:

  1. You try harder to control their behaviour even if you end up yelling.
  2. You beat yourself up for not being good enough as a parent. [Of course, you end up yelling less but this is a sure ticket to guilt-lane.]
  3. You swallow those upsetting feelings and numb the emotions. [The problem with this is that these pent-up emotions burst out later in a totally different way.]
  4. You are grateful for the “signal” and you use the opportunity to check in with your emotions so that you can figure out how to return yourself to a state where you can be emotionally generous to your child.

 

I bet you agree that option 4 seems like the best answer. I need you to see your irritation as a message that’s prompting you to engage in immediate acts of self-care so as not to break down emotionally and resort to yelling and rageful reactions that will most definitely make you feel remorseful afterwards. I am asked why yelling seems like a big deal in parenting, after all, some of us were yelled at repeatedly while growing up and still turned out right. It’s a big deal because our definition of “turned out right” is flawed. How many of us yelled at as children can now boast of a high-quality relationship with our parents? How many feel safe enough to be vulnerable with them? How many of us can control our rage when responding to triggering situations? How many of us dealt with self-esteem issues? Research shows that children who are yelled at regularly are more predisposed to develop anxiety, depression and behaviour problems including physical aggression. If you have the opportunity to break a negative cycle in order to position your child for a life of zero tendencies to depression and anxiety or self-esteem issues, will you not take it? So, on those tough days when you feel irritable, do these:

 

 

1. Slow Down. Drop whatever agenda you have for the moment and just breathe.

You need to remind yourself to calm down so that you don’t get hijacked by the fight or flight response system that’s present with big emotions like anger or rage. In the fight or flight response system, you’re likely to react emotionally rather than respond logically but to parent appropriately, logic is what will help you overcome yelling. So, when you feel that outburst coming, take a few deep breaths and watch how that simple exercise will help move you from the illusion of emergency created by your brain to focusing on the present moment. Taking this pause before taking any action can save you tons of regret.

 

2. Engage Thankfulness:

Sometimes, after taking deep breaths your emotions are still running wild. Your best bet is to distract yourself from those raging thoughts by focusing on gratitude. What are those things you’re grateful for? What do you have to be thankful for? Yes, your son stole the keys to your car and crashed it. It wasn’t insured and it’s going to cost an arm and a leg to get it repaired but he’s alive and no one else got hurt, that’s something to be grateful for. Gratitude helps secrete happy hormones that help disengage you from that state of emergency. It relaxes you and positions your body to be calm. Your best response is given in a state of calm. Gratitude gives you that emotional atmosphere.

 

3. Observe Your Emotions:

Your frontal cortex is the seat for logical thinking and when you’re calm, that’s the portion of your brain in charge of decision-making. If you still feel that urgent need to act then I can assure you that you’re still in that state of emergency — the fight or flight response — and your prefrontal cortex is not in charge. If it’s in a dangerous situation, set whatever limits you need as patiently as possible. But save the discipline for later. Whatever lessons you need to teach your child are best done while you’re calm. Children cannot learn properly when they’re upset and if you are upset, they will become upset too. The most important lesson you can teach your child at this moment is self-regulation, and you do that by modelling. Every time your frontal cortex overrides your emotional upset, you’re rewiring your brain, so it gets easier to regulate yourself. The concept of “practice makes perfect” is very true in this instance. And every time you tolerate upsetting feelings, accepting them without taking action, you’re working through old unfinished emotional business, so you don’t get triggered as often as you would have.

 

4. Plan Your Response:

Your response should be rooted in compassion and empathy to get the best results. As parents, we have wrongly believed that it’s our duty to take care of others while waiting for others to take care of us. But that’s not true. Only you can give yourself the love and care you deserve. In order to properly parent your children, you must learn to parent yourself. Otherwise, how can you give what you do not have? When we call ourselves “grown ups”, we are simply saying that we own up to taking up the responsibility to nurture ourselves, so that we can act like a grown-up when our children act childish. And you do this by not responding emotionally. So don’t forget to give yourself a hug (literally) when you need one. Love yourself with all your heart. Ask yourself today: What can I do right now to return myself to a state of love and well-being?

If you need a big change — more sleep, or exercise — make a plan to create it. Write a promise to yourself, post it where you can see it, and keep to it. If it’s something you can’t do until later, set a time when you will do it. There are times when you will flop so each time you find yourself starting to raise your voice, you can stop, breathe, and say,

“I’m so sorry! that’s my crankiness talking not me. Let’s try that again. Here’s what I meant to say, Sweetie, I need it to be quiet right now. Can you please go outside to play this game?”

If you find yourself routinely irritable? Take a ‘Vow of Yellibacy’ where you make a family commitment to always speak in a respectful tone to one another. Whenever you are not respectful in your words or tone, devise a [hand] signal that everyone in the family can use to call you to order. Then, as soon as you notice your tone, just STOP and start over. Of course, if you’re irritable every day, that’s a sign that you need to change something in your life. I encourage you to get whatever support you need to do that. You deserve to feel good. And your children deserve the best of you, not what’s left of you.

 

 

 

Summary:

Children learn so much from you — how to manage themselves, how to empathize, and how to ask for what they need in a respectful way. Children are able to sense when you’re disconnected and stressed, and they act out. When they do, your hug will reel them back to their best selves. As they watch you deal with your emotions and theirs], they will do less of screeching and pushing than usual.

 

 

 

 

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Five Simple Resolutions That’ll Make You a Better Parent This Year

Five Simple Resolutions That’ll Make You a Better Parent This Year

 

“TBOG…My new year’s resolution is to be a more patient mom. But when I told my thirteen-year-old, she [and my entire family] reminded me that I had made the same resolution last year. It punctured my resolve and guilt set in. I feel like a failure, even though somewhere in my heart I know I’ve become a better mother over the past year.”

— Salem

 

Many people stopped making New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago because they realized that they end up making the same resolutions year in and year out! But the fact that this happens does not in any way mean that you’re a failure. If anything, it shows how human you are. How willing you are to be better than you were. It means that you’re moving in the right direction and you’re willing to keep “becoming” until you “are”. But it also means that you’re not perfect. Yep! You’re not perfect. Fortunately, no one is.

 

Unfortunately, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that you will not be perfect either this year. The good news is, you don’t have to be! Your children do not need perfection from you their parents. What they need are parents who are empathetic to their imperfections and love them all the same. Your children need you to model kindness and respect, and you both [i.e. your children and yourself] should not be afraid to apologize and reconnect when things go wrong, as they will inevitably do.

 

This is no mean feat. You’ll have to master the art of regulating your own emotions. It is why it’s tough to work to resolve to stay “patient”. By the time you’re cautioning yourself to be patient, you’re most likely already in a “fight or flight” stance. But if you do want to become a more patient parent and a joyful individual irrespective of what comes your way, it is possible. To create a home that is less drama-filled and full of love, here are five simple resolutions you can do right now. These tips are lifelong tools so you won’t be perfect in a year and that’s OK. You’re likely to make the same resolutions next year and that’s OK too. Here’s one thing I can guarantee though, you’ll be a more tranquil parent with a cheerful and cooperative child.

 

 

1. Become more in touch with your emotions by resolving to regulate them.

With the hustle and bustle of life and the everyday demands of parenting, it is so easy to get caught up in the ‘automation’ of behaviour that we forget to pause just to check how we’re doing — spirit, soul and body. The only way to become better and more patient this year is to be in touch with your emotions. Using the S.T.O.P. Principle [here’s a free eBook that can shed more light] as a strategy, you can become more self-aware.

 

If you want to be an emotionally generous parent then you have to constantly stay in touch with your emotions. The more stressors you’re able to eliminate, the more in tune with your emotions you can be. You can begin by making self-nurturing a daily habit: have a steady sleep routine so that you’re well rested in the morning, eat healthy so that you have adequate energy to run your day, replace negative inner thoughts and critics with positive affirmations, be kind to yourself even when you make mistakes, and don’t overwork yourself, it’s OK to take breaks. When you reduce the risk of being grumpy by eliminating or reducing stress inducers to the barest minimum, you’ll stand a better chance and regulating your emotions.

 

Every time you successfully restrain yourself from throwing a “tantrum” in response to your children’s tantrums, you rewire your brain. I can assure you that it may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do but you’ll be surprised at how possible it is and how rewarding it is. When you give in to the “fight or flight” nature that comes with impatience, you will see your child as the enemy whereas they’re not. As long as you can refrain from taking any form of action when angry, you’re doing a great job at regulating your emotions. Here’s one hint I’ll leave with you — regulating your emotions is the best way to get your child to “change” their behaviour.

 

 

2. Don’t give up on your child. Resolve to love them forever.

There is one singular truth about child development — they thrive when they feel loved and cherished. I have watched children who were written off, bounce back and even become better when they were placed in an atmosphere of unconditional love and they FEEL loved. There’s a difference between curating an atmosphere of love and communicating that love accurately to your child. I grew up thinking that my dad hated me. Imagine my shock when decades later, I realized that I was perhaps his favourite child! An irony, right? But that’s the little mistake we could make that could jeopardize our child’s wholesomeness. His methods of parenting made me feel that I was hated. As soon as I was able to leave home, I did not hesitate to do so and I had no idea that he was hurt by my actions.

 

Again and again, I have noticed how we as parents communicate our love in the best way we know how but unfortunately gets misinterpreted by those we love. It’s hurtful and that’s why I had to create a course that helped parents see a better way to resolve this challenge. Every child is uniquely created, so using a general approach for each child to feel safe, seen and valued might be counterproductive. Your natural disposition might be the best method for one child yet the worst for your other child. The tough work for us as parents is accepting who our child is –  baggage and all – yet still loving them for that individuality and uniqueness they bring to the fore while guiding and correcting bad behaviour. The simple secret to doing this is to see life through their lens. When I designed the course – ENGAGING THE WORLD OF ADOLESCENCE – it was to bring hope to parents who struggled to understand their adolescents and were fast losing them. It is possible to bond effectively with your child even the seemingly “troublesome” one.

 

3. Commit to staying emotionally connected.

Your ability to connect before you correct will stand you out as a parent. This is primarily because children are more inclined to allow themselves to get led by you when they feel a connection to you. “Because I said so!” used to be the trick word to get children to obey instructions but with the evolving culture around us, those words are only bound to trigger one thing –  rebellion. Of course, staying connected at all times is quite impossible. There will be moments of disconnect but when those separations happen, you’ll have to repeatedly reconnect.

 

“I want to spend quality time with my kids this year” was a statement a client mentioned as her goal for the year. That’s a huge feat and children love to be able to spend time with their parents. It’s an opportunity for bonding. The problem with that statement though is that “quality time” equates “teaching” in our minds. Spending quality time is somewhat like, “I want to have time to supervise their assignments, make sure they get their chores done and just basically be around, should they need me” in the minds of many parents and while these things are cool, that’s not quality time. Quality time is about connecting and engaging. It’s unstructured. You hug your child every morning and whenever you say goodbye, telling them how much you love them. When you get reunited, you give them your undivided attention for some time (say 20 minutes) when they unburden and tell you about their day. You get to laugh, play, empathize, and share thoughts, ideas, and memories.

 

Dinner time is another opportunity to spend quality time with your child. You can pause your work (if you work from home) or your chores, put your phone on silent to avoid distractions, and take your eyes off your computer to give your undivided attention. You can eat dinner together without screens and do a whole lot of listening. You’ll discover that 20 minutes may not even be enough time. When you’re truly connected, you’ll both want to please each other and put your needs above yourselves. This is quite a feat for adolescents because they tend to be quite selfish and it’s understandable because of their phase of life. But modelling this to your adolescent, showing them respect, attention and love will have them mirroring your behaviour back to you in no time.  You’ll both get to enjoy each other’s company and an emotional bond is built and strengthened. Leadership is not difficult when you do this. Even if your child disagrees with your instructions, it becomes easy to disagree in an atmosphere of love.

 

 4. Respect must be modelled at all times.

As parents, we kind of feel that “we know what’s best” for our children. And we’re not wrong about that because we do know what’s best for them. It’s just that we’re also not right about that because they also know what’s best for them — at least what they think is best for them. This is usually where power struggles come in, especially with parents of adolescents. You should realize that parenting is a partnership and until you realize at all times that the privilege of parenting is only possible because your child is willing to be parented by you, you might have constant ‘fights’. How do you deal with partnerships? Respect! We must learn to respect our children. We must show them consideration. We must remember that we are their first models and our behaviour is likely to be emulated. So, when you speak condescendingly to your child, by the time they’re old enough to take back the reigns of power from you, they’ll treat you in the same condescending manner. To raise children who are respectful, kind and generous to others (not only yourself), you must live that kind of life. If you cannot manage your emotions, especially your outbursts when you’re angry, you don’t expect your child to learn to deal with theirs. It’ll be unfair for you to lash out when you like but punish them for doing the same.

As adults, we still struggle to manage our emotions, why do we expect our children who have had little to no practice to suddenly manage theirs and then get upset when they fail to? Here are some mantras to help you manage anger:

  • “She is acting like a child because she is a child”
  • “I am the role model.”
  • “If I understand his perspective, it’ll help me know why he did what he did”
  • “Don’t take this personally”
  • “This too shall pass”

 

5. Investigate your child’s behaviour to find out what needs and feelings are driving it.

Some time ago, I trained some parents on the topic — defiance is just a cry for help — and it was humbling to see how understanding and remorse dawned on their faces. We have gotten so used to the word “misbehaviour” as inappropriate behaviour but what do we mean when we say that our child has misbehaved? Many times, it simply means that our child has deviated from the expected behaviour we preferred for them. A friend of mine shared a story that I think is appropriate for this point. A little girl of about 5 years old, went into the garage with a nail to scratch her dad’s expensive car. Her dad had just purchased the car through a loan and was going to spend an arm and a leg just to pay it back. His insurance had not even been effected yet so the car just sat in the garage. When he returned home, he noticed his daughter extremely excited to see him, holding a nail in her hands with paint marks on them that looked suspiciously similar to his car’s. He realized that the garage door wasn’t shut and he ran to his car while observing his daughter’s toothy grin. He couldn’t contain the rage he felt as he saw his damaged car. Scratches and dents were all over it, one could not help but notice the destruction that sat in his garage. In his fury, he hit his little girl so badly that she fell and hit her head and was rushed to the hospital. When he eventually got home, he realized that the scratches had a pattern. What his daughter had written was, “Daddy, I love you so much”. He burst into tears.

 

While that story showed the “destruction” his daughter caused, she intended to let her dad know how much he meant to her. Children are like that. They process things simply and do not understand choices and consequences as complex as adults do. When a child defies or misbehaves, they many times are not doing so out of spite. It is the only way they understand to process complex emotions. You have to help identify what needs are not being met or what big emotions they cannot handle rather than classify them as misbehaving children. Defiance is a cry for help and misbehaviour is a red flag that screams, “I need help to process my emotions”. This is one place where your ability to connect with your child deeply will help you know when to redirect preemptively rather than punish and to set limits empathically. The most important time to let your connection with your child flow is when they act out.

 

Summary:

I should give you fair warning though. You’ll make mistakes. Your child will too. But that’s OK. There are no perfect parents anywhere in the world. There are no perfect children too neither are there perfect families. Perfection is a journey we all must walk. It is not a destination. Despite the mistakes you’re guaranteed to make when you create an atmosphere of love, everyone will thrive. Love means when you make mistakes, you own up to them and make amends. The only way to improve your resolution for the year is to make daily choices that take you in the direction you wish. Build a club for moms if you have to so that you can all hold yourselves accountable. 2023 can be for you a year of constant correction, forgiving yourself when you slip up and getting back on track when life throws you off. So, don’t feel troubled if you’re making the same resolutions year in and year out. It only means that you’re deliberate about growth and you’re choosing over and over to take positive steps in the right direction. You’ll be surprised at how much growth you’ll accomplish and how far you’ll go. Your resolutions can make you parent with less drama and more love. Don’t give up!

 

If these resolutions sound too humongous, that just means you need more support. Have you thought of taking my self-paced Online Course, which gives you a wealth of resources to transform your family? Giving yourself support is not selfish. It’s the best gift you could give yourself and your family. Thank you for all the hard work you do, every day, in your home. I’m honoured to accompany you on your parenting journey, and I look forward to supporting you in making 2023 the best year yet for you and your family. May the New Year shower blessings on you and your family.

Five Simple Resolutions That'll Make You a Better Parent This Year

Five Simple Resolutions That’ll Make You a Better Parent This Year

 

 

THE UNSPOKEN STRUGGLES OF WORKING MOTHERS

THE UNSPOKEN STRUGGLES OF WORKING MOTHERS

Picture Source: Freepik

 

“I am close to quitting my career”

“I feel as though motherhood is affecting my productivity at work”

“I am terrified of getting pregnant because once I do, my chances of making partner will be taken from me”

“I love my children but I love my job too. Is it too much to want to eat my cake and have it?”

“I am eaten by guilt every time I have to choose my work over going to my son’s football practice”

It is a common conversation that work and motherhood do not go together and that women who pursue both must make endless compromises and trade-offs. Hence, a lot of career and business mothers can relate to some of those thoughts above. It’s common for working mothers to worry about their children, especially if they are juggling both work and home duties. But as a Family Wellness Consultant, I can guarantee you that your children will be alright even if you spend many hours away from them every day. It is not about the quantity of time you spend with them but the quality. There are so many societal pressures that define what mothers should be doing, how they should parent, and what the expectations should be. There are many unwritten rules that guide the thought processes of women even though they don’t consciously realize it.  Many times, these rules are not even true. The key here is balance though. Even though work demands a lot of your time, it is important that the moments you can steal off work must be spent creatively and actively engaged in their lives to make up for the time away. We have a free course that can help you get started on this journey www.tsageandtbog.com/courses. It is OK to enjoy being a working mom.

This article is to ensure that you don’t succumb to the guilt of being a working mom and to share tips with organizational heads on how to help out too.

It is important to know that being a working mother is not only suitable for financial reasons but research proves that there are several positive outcomes for the children and the family as well. According to a Harvard research study, daughters of working moms are more likely to advance in their careers, and sons of working moms go on to spend 50 minutes more each week caring for their own families. Giving your children space also gives them autonomy to learn on their own, in their way. The takeaway is that working mothers have a chance to help their daughters be more financially independent as adults – and help teach sons to participate as fathers just by being a working mom!

 

Being a working mom often provides many women with cerebral stimulation that they don’t get at home. This is why the societal pressure that mandates women to stay at home will not work for all women especially those who find great fulfillment in the work they do. Despite the challenges that come with finding a work-life balance, many moms who work say they’re healthier and happier than moms who stay at home. However, there are moms who enjoy raising their children full-time. That’s Ok too but this article is specific to working moms.

 

Another unspoken struggle working mothers face is the “mommy tax” they pay. Many women already earn less than their male counterparts but add the time taken off for childbearing years and they’re earning even less. It is important not to look at these in monetary terms only. A woman might be paid for her maternity leave but when she returns 6 months later or 18 months later [like in Canada], it is only logical that she definitely will not be on the same pedestal as her male counterpart seeing that he spent his 18 months working, gathering experience and honing skills that she was not able to. So, we find women scared to get pregnant on the job, struggle with guilt if they choose not to stay the entire duration of their maternity leave, or even struggle to come back to work and leave their newborn at home. We have evidence of women choosing to downshift in their careers to make more time for the home while some altogether quit the workforce.

 

Almost every household has been impacted by the disruption that comes from work-life imbalance, women have been the hardest hit. Although both mothers and fathers shoulder increased domestic responsibilities in the 21st century compared to previous years, the majority of the virtual homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and parenting is done by women. As a result, many women have been forced to sacrifice career advancement and some even avoid returning to the labour market altogether. Here’s a litmus test to know how prevalent this is – how regularly do you hear men being asked, “how do you cope with your job and being a father?”.

 

5 ways organizations can help

The good news is, that there are some specific ways organizations can better support working mothers, and soon-to-be mothers.

1. Offer Flexible Work Schedules:

Allow working parents more control over their schedules by implementing flexible work arrangements is a banger. It could be a hybrid work schedule, a pick-and-choose schedule or even a four-day work week like the Kaduna State Government announced in 2021. While it is easy to assume that doing this could harm your organization, data and various studies prove otherwise. Also, the productivity, creativity, and resilience of employees actually increase when these changes are made.

2. Establish Family-Friendly Policies And Benefits:

Women inclusion is a popularized concept in the corporate space and it is easy to assume that once there is an influx of women into an organization, the benefits will follow suit. That’s a farce. Women inclusion is only beneficial to an organization when the policies and benefits make them feel truly included. It is important to note that a happy employee will improve your revenue greatly. Imagine the benefits of having a women-inclusive workforce that is truly happy to be employees of your organization. Today is not a bad day to re-evaluate any long-standing policies and identify if any changes need to be made. Verify that each policy applies equally to every employee, regardless of their gender, marital status, parentage, or employment status. Even when the policies look good on paper, work may be necessary to ensure people feel comfortable using them without fear of shame, pressure, or retaliation. Some examples are company policies and benefits involving PTO, sick days, maternity and paternity leave, medical benefits, and fertility care.

3. Encourage Employee Resource Groups:

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have grown in popularity as diversity and inclusion programs become more prevalent in the workplace. The groups exist to provide support and help in personal or career development and to create a safe space where employees can bring their whole selves to the table. ERGs can be provided for working moms so that they can access resources, advice, and other practical support they might need.

 

4. Prioritize Building An Inclusive Culture:

Workplace cultures of inclusion and belonging can be a powerful tool for supporting working mothers. Research supports that feeling supported at work was linked with a 17% boost in women’s well-being since the pandemic began and a 28% boost for parents overall. Intent to stay scores jump by 31% for women and 13% for parents. Creating a long-term remuneration plan is a great step too. Offering industry-standard remuneration and benefits packages that focus on the long term is the first step in attracting and maintaining in-demand personnel. Working women seek advantages that help them reconcile their passion for work and love for family, such as paid parental leave, maternal leave, paid time off, and health insurance, rather than day-to-day perks like free meals, team-building activities, and gym memberships.

 

5. Make Coaching Available To Working Parents:

Professional coaching is not just useful for the leaders of an organization, it can benefit employees at all levels and in all roles. Coaches can assist working mothers in balancing work and family, managing stress, and caring for their mental health.

 

Summary:

When working moms feel their organization supports their well-being in and out of the office, data shows that the organization as a whole benefit. Over the past two years, working mothers, have seen their careers derailed and their home lives turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the skills that working mothers bring to the table – empathy, multitasking, flexibility, understanding, time management, communication, staying calm under pressure, etc – are more valuable than ever.

 

 

 

NB: If this article resonates with you, please leave a comment and share it with your friends.

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS; CAN TIME REALLY BE MANAGED?

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS; CAN TIME REALLY BE MANAGED?

For something as infinite as time, do you suppose it can be managed by finite humans? Are we not basically asking humans who are bound in time to step out of time to control time? I find this notion fascinating and could not resist writing about time management especially since it plays a huge role in our work-life balance conversations.

In spite of the infinite nature of time, it is important to know that humans can function effectively in this infiniteness if only we learn to use the time to our advantage. Whether we are productive or not, time will not stop counting. Whether we take care of ourselves or not, time will not cease. Basically, we are to gain mastery of time management if we ever want to make the most effective use of this infinite gift handed to mankind.  The goal is not to control time. The goal is to manage time. Every time you find that time is never enough, then perhaps you’re trying to control that which was only designed to be managed – time.

If you never seem to have enough time, better time management can help you regain control of your days. Whether it’s in your job or your lifestyle as a whole, learning how to manage your time effectively can help you feel more relaxed, focused, and in control. Having a balanced lifestyle is the goal of good time management. There is a time management exercise I’ll like to introduce you to. When you perform this exercise, you will get one of two outcomes. You will find that you either spend too much time on unimportant things where you’re literally wasting precious time or you’ll find that you’re taking on too much and it’s making you feel like 24 hours is not enough to hit those goals. You can download the exercise here. 

The goal of this article is to show you the top tips for better time management.

 

1. Identify Purpose.

Every time I have held a work-life balance discourse, I always bring up the need to have an anchor in purpose because every other thing you will do will be done on the foundation of purpose. You have to be able to identify what you want in your career or personal life, who you want to be, and what you want to achieve. Consequently, that becomes the guiding principle for how you manage and spend your time. In order to arrive at your short-term and medium-term goals, you must first figure out the big picture. After which, you begin the process of managing your time to fit into the ideal picture you have created.

 

2. Separate The Important From The Urgent.

To-do lists are a good way to stay organized but you can easily get carried away with the multiple tasks to be achieved in a day. While it is assumed that keeping a to-do list will help you work out your priorities and timings, it is not entirely so. One of the major tips to help you better manage time is to develop your ability to identify what’s important from what’s urgent. They are not the same. The urgent will always demand your attention even if it’s not important. Do not allow the tyranny of the urgent to replace what’s important. So, ask yourself “is this an important task?” Using the Priority Matrix (Eisenhower Matrix) can help you identify what tasks to do first, what to schedule, what can be delegated, and what does not require any form of attention from you. Based on this matrix, tasks can be grouped into these 4 categories alongside the corresponding response:

 

 

  • Category 1: urgent and important
  • Category 2: not urgent but important
  • Category 3: urgent but not important
  • Category 4: neither urgent nor important

 

The responses to these categories are very different. Hence, the need to be able to accurately categorize your day-to-day tasks. Here are the corresponding responses:

  • If it’s urgent and important: Handle it
  • If it’s not urgent but it’s important: Schedule it
  • If it’s urgent but not important: Delegate it
  • If it’s neither urgent nor important: Avoid it

 

3.  Be Result-Focused.

The very essence of time management is to ensure that you’re doing high-quality work not high-quantity work. Nobody is interested in the number of hours you spent executing a task. Everyone is more concerned with the excellence your executed tasks exude. Don’t be deceived by how busy you are. That’s not the point. Staying extra hours at work can even be an ineffective way to manage your time. Once you distinguish the important tasks from the urgent ones and you respond appropriately to those demands, ensure that your methodology to execution is seamless, creative, excellent, and time effective. People who manage their time effectively concentrate on “not urgent but important” activities. That way they lower the chances of tasks ever becoming “urgent and important”. Since stress can result from having too many urgent tasks to handle, this is an excellent way of reducing stress levels and promoting excellent delivery.

 

4. Enjoy Lunch Breaks.

I used to be very guilty of working through lunch breaks in the hopes of hitting targets and meeting deadlines. I realized unfortunately that it is one of the most counterproductive ways to manage time. Studies show that in the morning, we can work for (at most) 90 minutes at a time before we begin to lose focus. Technically, we should break for about 15 minutes for every hour we work. Many organizations don’t have this infused into their organizational culture therefore, ditching lunch breaks is a no-no. When you return from this break, you will come back re-energized and refreshed – all emotional states to improve productivity.

 

Summary:

Working straight through fatigue and tiredness is often motivated by guilt which is why I often propose a guilt management class every time I teach time management. When we are busier, we feel less guilty and more productive but it’s not true. Being busy does not in any way equate to being productive. In the end, productivity comes down to how much we achieve, not how much we do. Working smarter and accomplishing more is possible when you take breaks.  If you do knowledge work for a living, your work benefits from all the energy and focus you can possibly bring to it. This means the time you spend taking breaks will pay for itself in increased focus and energy.

 

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DELEGATION; A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD

DELEGATION; A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD

“What is the point of being responsible for the work if I am not allowed to take the shine?”

 

“What does she even do? We seem to do all her work for her.”

 

“He never lets us do what we want. How do we learn and grow?”

 

“Why is he micromanaging me, checking on my work constantly? He either believes I can deliver or not. There’s no in-between”

 

Do these statements sound familiar? If you’ve heard this about yourself or you hear yourself saying this about your manager then I say a hearty Congratulations! You have just stepped on the sharp end of the double-edged sword called DELEGATION.

Generally, something that has both advantages and disadvantages is considered a double edge sword. The process of delegation usually refers to the process of top managers or subordinates delegating authority to middle and lower-level managers. While this is a straightforward definition, the actual process of delegation is anything but simple. A leader’s job is an extremely difficult one. They often need to make tough decisions, act when no one else will, and influence others to realize their vision. However, these actions always mostly have unintended consequences something we refer to as “the double-edged sword”.

For example, “is it better to let my team handle the work I do, or do I do it myself?”, “to what extent do I allow employees in on trade secrets?” Managers and Leaders face this dilemma more often than not. While it is important to recognize that one of the pillars of being a good leader is to learn to delegate effectively, it is also important to acknowledge that criticism will come as well because some members of the team may see you as using them to get your work done or see you as someone who is just not prepared to own and deliver on the job even if this is not your intention.

Let this not deter you!

SO, HOW DO YOU AVOID THE BLEEDING THAT COULD COME FROM THIS DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD?

In one word - Balance. The hallmark of a leader is the ability to discern what is too much and what is too little. The delicate art of balancing is the solution to dealing with this double-edged sword. Don’t feel bad when you slip up here and there because with consistent practice comes mastery. Here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Learn to hand over tasks to your team rather than doing it all by yourself and don’t feel guilty when you do so. They might make mistakes but that’s not a problem. Before you became a leader, you made mistakes too. So, empower and let your team own the work you have made them responsible for. When they make mistakes, don’t be quick to lash out. The proof of a good leader is in their ability to raise others into leaders themselves. Provide feedback and don’t just criticize your team for small failures. Encourage them to stand tall and not get demotivated because of some small setbacks.

 

  1. Don’t involve yourself in the day-to-day decision-making process. This is not to say that you leave your team to run on their own especially when they’re new to this. Rather, this is a process of building trust. You can set the tone for the week and let them handle the execution but let them know that if they’re stuck, they can come to you for clarification. Until you can wean them off relying on you for day-to-day decision-making, this is a sustainable process.

 

  1. Accept that other people will have their own style of delivery. Therefore, chances are that your team will execute using other methods that differ from yours. That is the true essence of diversity and creativity. Even though it may not match your own style as long as the output matches or exceeds your expectations then should you really care? Unless it is unethical and incorrect, the answer is no. In doing this, you will also learn new things from your team and you will always have the best ideas originate from them.

 

  1. Although your goal is to delegate, understand that there is a difference between delegation and nonchalance. Coach your team regularly. Have sessions with them where they’re giving you feedback as well. The power of a synergized team does not come from the leader regularly dishing out instructions. It comes from a systematic communication channel that allows for feedback in response to instructions given. Don’t throw them in the deep end in the name of the delegation. Respect the viewpoint of the team and listen to their suggestions. If you can’t accept their suggestion, decline politely, and explain the reason for not accepting the suggestion. You will be respected more just by listening to them.

 

  1. One of the major reasons delegation sometimes harms leadership is because after all is said and done, the leader “forgets” to give credit where it’s due to the team and ends up taking all the glory for something that was a team effort. Make sure you praise and reward the team for the good work they do.  Celebrate their successes. Don’t forget that you are part of the team. Let them feel like you’re a part of them too.

 

Summary:

To delegate effectively, you must know how to lead by example. Your team will be more trusting when they know that the reason you’re delegating is because you want to also train them into becoming effective leaders rather than having them as slave masters. If the situation demands, roll up your sleeves and do the work alongside your team. Empathy helps strengthen positive emotions in delegation.