The new STC Women in Tech Comm (WTC) SIG hosted their first webinar this year on “Prioritizing the Pressure through Better Time Management” and presented by Alyssa Fox. Fox discussed the pressures we (humans, not just women) face as we try to “balance” our personal, professional, and whatever else we value. Fox clearly stated the ineffectiveness of the idea of “balance” because it’s never an even split between the different areas of our lives; instead, it’s a prioritization of what we value.
To this point, Fox suggests creating a list of the areas in your life that take precedence for you. For many, this is work and family. For many STC members, it is work, family, and STC. No matter what your priorities and responsibilities are, Fox expressed the importance of a calendar in which you can schedule around your priorities. There is a lot of research that shows scheduling time for something you value means you’re more likely to make time for the “thing” you value. Not scheduling out time means we open ourselves up to delaying, forgetting, or just skipping the “thing” we value. Fox is clear to state that we don’t need to have every minute of every day scheduled, but we do need to ensure we schedule the “things” we value.
Fox elaborates by discussing the need for deliberate time management through the elimination of distractions. In a constantly-connected world, we have distractions everywhere we turn: email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, and the list goes on. Fox shared that she turns off notifications for many of the apps on her phone so that any time she spends on social media or a game is deliberate and intentional, rather than a few minutes here and there. The audience shared other examples of eliminating distractions such as turning off work email or messengers during certain times of the day or removing your work email from your personal phone. The point being that deliberately managing your time and eliminating the distractions, can help you focus on the “things” you prioritize.
Establishing and scheduling your priorities are only part of the equation though. Fox reiterates the importance of self-care through exercise and recharging. Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever that can give you more energy and help you sleep better. Even if you’re not “athletic,” just taking time to get up and move can be beneficial to both your physical and mental health. Further, Fox strongly encourages you to schedule 15 minutes (or five) to recharge ALONE in a way that you ENJOY. So, taking out the trash is not recharging—even if you get some quiet, alone time. Recharging is retreating to your hammock, reading, meditating, or whatever it is that gives you time alone with your own thoughts and brings you joy.
Fox comes full circle by encouraging you to prioritize your commitments. Pause before you commit and evaluate if that commitment falls into your priorities. Fox, for example, shared that she only volunteers for school events in which she can spend more time with her children because spending more time with her children is a priority. It is important to create commitments that mirror your priorities. Further, if you tell your boss that you’re leaving at 5 pm to go to your child’s recital, your boss is much less likely (hopefully) to come to you with a problem at 4:55 pm. By setting expectations for yourself and communicating them, you help filter the external expectations of you.
Fox presented a thought-provoking webinar on the conundrum of work-life balance with tips for prioritizing, self-care, and setting expectations. If this webinar is any indication of things to come from the new WTC SIG, we are in for a treat (and Lines & Letters posts)!