Yes, you read that correctly. Motherhood has made me a better employee. Let me count the ways…
“Most things which are urgent are not important, and most things which are important are not urgent.” – Dwight Eisenhower*
As a newbie parent you learn quickly that a newborn baby crying is urgent and important. Always. However, if everything in my inbox is marked ‘high importance’ then nothing is high importance – it all needs to be re-prioritized. I was afforded a fresh look at prioritization in way of a reset upon my return from maternity leave. This view through a new lens allowed me to see quick and simple ways to outline my day. As a skill, prioritization is one best practiced daily. It’s critical to managing my day as effectively as possible, which leads me to…
2. Time Management
Time at home and with my new babe is precious. Anything I can do to maximize that time is of utmost importance. That means eliminating as much waste as possible in my day. Prioritization plays a major role. I strive to complete all my critical work within office hours. Obviously there are times when this is not always possible, however, I work hard to make that the exception and not the rule. This also helps those that I work with which, in the agency world, can be a lot of different people on a given day. By being mindful and effectively managing my own time I can provide them guidance and input when they need it and hopefully eliminate long or unnecessary hours.
Preparing for maternity leave forces you to delegate some work that you may not otherwise. It’s a valuable exercise, especially as a leader. Sometimes we can get caught up in the ‘I’ll do it myself’ mentality which in the long run doesn’t help your growth as a leader or the growth of those that you’re managing. The exercise in delegation preparing for maternity leave afforded those on my team opportunities to take on more responsibility and forced me to take full stock of those responsibilities on my plate and evaluate who best to receive. Upon my return I continued to keep an eye toward those responsibilities I could delegate in order to ensure continued growth both for myself as well as those on my team.
It’s easy in the agency business to get caught-up in the drama. The drama of clients, of co-workers, of deadlines, of unrealistic expectations, of it all. Becoming a mother lent another perspective in my life. It caused me to take a step back, re-evaluate and temper a response. I’m less knee-jerk reactive and more level-headed, especially in high anxiety situations.
Overall motherhood has spurred me to have more focus on my career and the direction it’s taking by truly evaluating what I want and the value I add. Going through the motions isn’t going to cut it. If I’m spending my time working, it has to be meaningful. I’m in it to win it.
*President Eisenhower created a method of prioritization that involves a four quadrant box with categories that range from Important/Urgent to Unimportant/Not Urgent. It’s a simple method to adopt if you’re struggling with prioritization.