Getting through B-School was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. It ranks right up there with having four children, and having a full time career that I enjoy. I’ve had to learn a few survival skills over the years, so I thought I would share some working mom career tips that I’ve learned. They will help you keep your career on track, and headed in the right direction for you.
Be Fully Present
One of the hardest skills to learn for many people is to be fully present with where you are, at all times. It is also one of the hardest to actually execute. Phone calls that need to be made. Sniffling kids. Ailing or sick parents. They all contribute to distractions at work. Add in the ubiquitous smart phone, and the lure to check it just one more time, and there are too many distractions for any one person to handle. One trick that I try to practice as much as possible is to be fully present. When I’m at work, I am fully at work, as much as possible. That means not checking my phone, emails, and other distractions.
If I am in a meeting, I close the laptop, and pay close attention to what is being said. Have you ever been in a meeting, and wondered why people bother to show up because they are on their phones and laptops for the entire meeting? It is distracting and disrespectful. Put the gadgets away, and limit their use. Check them, on a schedule, and put them in their place. They are your tools. You are not their tool, so don’t let them use you.
Start meetings on time. Follow an agenda. Make sure that you achieve the purpose of the meeting. Give everyone a chance to be heard, and then be done with the meeting. It is not unheard of for me to run 15 to 30 minute meetings because frankly, I do not need to really listen to the sound of my voice. It’s lovely, but I’ve heard plenty of it.
Don’t Leave Until You Leave
If you are contemplating moving, changing careers, having children, staying home, etc, one tendency is to get distracted, and not put as much effort into your career. I would argue that it is important to show up ready to work until the last day. If you are contemplating having a child, be aware that sometimes it can take a while to get pregnant, and for most of us, a pregnancy is about 9 long months. That means that you likely are going to be working at least a year after you decide to have a baby. That is an entire year to make forward progress in your career.
One thing that most men do is to spend time with their teams. They eat lunch together, they go out after work and socialize. Women do not do this so much, and it is to our collective detriment. That social time is not just social. It is an opportunity to get to know your team mates better and bond. Resist the urge to eat lunch at your desk every day, or run errands every day. Make a point of spending at least some of your time with your team. There is a great deal of power in spending time with your team breaking bread. For example, learn to play golf if that is an activity that your team partakes in.
Keep current with your certificates. Spend time in class, and learn some new skills. Keep focusing on making yourself better. You won’t regret making yourself more valuable in your career, even if it is a bit more effort. Sometimes that can be very hard when you are just exhausted from life. Sometimes you just have to make yourself do it.
Follow These Simple Tips
If you follow these 5 working mom career tips, you will go far towards keeping your career on track. You will also find it possible to get more done, progress much further, and grow faster.
Next: Sharpen the Saw