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A coach once told me, I have a strong ‘achievement driver’ meaning I enjoy the process of setting myself stretching targets and then achieving them. Henceforth my interest in reading and learning from those that are the so- called achievement gurus, how to do more with less, how to prioritise your time, how to be successful seems to be the order of the day. I often find myself quite deflated though, after reading the latest person’s secrets of success.

Their lives are not like mine, I think.

It was on perusing James Clear’s website that the contrast struck me. I read and loved his blog on creativity, dipped a little into his one on maximising use of time – and therein lies the challenge. Time management and prioritisation written from the perspective of a man is different to that of a woman. Why? Because as a mother, and a working mother, my time is rarely my own to choose how I spend it.

Only last week I went to bed feeling super-motivated, I planned to get up early, (6.00 am) spend a couple of hours working from home on some key projects where I needed thinking time, and then by about 8.00 am I would then be in a position to help the children get out the door for their respective college and school activity, and then I could go to the office already feeling like I’d had a head start on the day.

So what happened in practice? Just as the time to wake came, so did my 8 year old, with complaints of not feeling well. For a few moments I had that conflict between my business-like, efficient alter ego who is keen to get to work, until I realised she had to be replaced by my mum persona, who needed to focus on my son and his needs. It only took a couple of moments for this to happen (I am highly trained in this particular scenario – it has happened many times before…). That realisation that whatever work or personal goals you have set yourself that day, they all have to be set aside at a moment’s notice – that’s what mothers are expert in – that’s real time and priority management

So this is where I am at odds with the current round of guru thinking. Take James Clear for example – it is clear (no pun intended) that his articles are written for the average working male – one that is supported by a loving wife who takes care of the school run, the homework, the sick child. Or no dependants at all. I almost had to laugh, perusing James’s website – his little article on his new eating regime, 2 meals a day only and fasting the rest of the time, which he describes as a time-saver, less time preparing and eating…. I wonder how that would go down,’Sorry kids, no dinner today, I’m saving time!’

Incidentally I wrote this on the plane whilst on a short flight back from Helsinki recently – in an effort to use my time wisely…

girls shopping

mother-daughter birthday shopping trip – after a morning’s work

It is something I do continually, all day every day, juggling work commitments and family commitments. The trick is to not sweat the small stuff, never get stressed about not being able to complete something you had decided you wanted to complete in your head when there is no real deadline.

So when are we going to get a really good book on doing more with less for working parents? At a guess I’d say all the successful working parents were too busy juggling to write it….

Other blogs from me you may like:

The great childcare debate

The ‘Get-It-Done’ Mum

Having your cake and eating it…