WORKING moms usually look at time as an enemy. Time escapes them when they have a deadline to meet. It taunts them when they are caught in a traffic snarl at eight o’clock in the evening with hungry kids waiting for the family dinner. It mocks them when they see dark circles under their eyes from a night of catching up on household chores. They hate time because working moms need lots of it to effectively accomplish all the tasks necessary to have a perfect job, a dream home and an ideal family. But working moms lose time all the time, at home and at work.

Working moms’ bosses know this. They have seen the tug of war between working moms and enemy time. Sometimes, working moms can hold on; oftentimes, they fall flat on face. Thus, the perception has developed that women, especially working moms, don’t want to work long or unusual hours. This perception has hindered the advancement of women at work with employers hesitant to give more responsibility, more authority and consequently, more promotions to working moms. In some cases, the perception is not true; in others, it reflects the sad reality.

When then can we do, first not to lose out on this constant tug of war with time and secondly, to correct the perception that’s blocking opportunities for advancement?

Many consultants recommend time management techniques. Others say that time management is not the solution—managing yourself is. Still others say that self-management is not enough—what is needed is life management. Well, I think these techniques can work, but then again, these may not. These are two-dimensional strategies—one dimension is time, which varies with life expectancy; and the other is the person’s competencies. Consultants recommend tweaking either one to achieve the perfect order of things. But there is a third dimension that can be managed—and that is the person’s paradigms.

The common paradigm is that we should strive for the perfect job, the dream home and the ideal family. In doing so, we fly through life like super moms and super wives and we don’t realize that doing so is draining our life force. My belief is that we can never be super “anything” because as human beings, we can only strive for perfection but never attain it. This is not a defeatist attitude; it is only an attitude that sees human beings in all our natural imperfections.

Is achieving all these goals or outputs worth the deadly price? Or is the “through-put” more important? What I am saying here is, perhaps the “how” of going through life is more important than the “what.” A thousand years from now, all our “what’s” or material achievements will surely have vanished from the face of the earth. No one will remember that we even existed on this earth. The only thing that will be left is God’s memory of how we conducted ourselves in life, which shall determine our heavenly happiness.

With this paradigm, we can let loose the stringent expectations on ourselves and look at time management in a new light. Yes, by all means, let us make more efficient use of our time. Let’s work on enhancing our competencies so we can be more effective. But let us determine and focus on the goals that will allow us to go through life being the best that we can with others. In so doing, we will gain more respect at work and at home because we are able to bring the expectations of our loved ones and colleagues to a level where we can meet them consistently and lovingly.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Published in Metro Working Mom September 2002.

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Founding Editor, People at Work, Business, Phiippine Daily Inquirer

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