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How to successfully manage your time between working and entertaining your children this summer

Karen Meager and John McLachlan

It’s that time of year again and the six weeks or so that many parents dread; how to manage work and children over the summer holidays. Here’s the newsflash – there is no one right way to do this. All the great advice and recommendations from others may not work for you if they do not fit with how you think or process time. Article by Karen Meager and John McLachlan Co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training and authors of co-authors of Time Mastery: Banish Time Management Forever.

As best you can, plan the summer in a way that suits your natural way of doing time. This will make everything flow better and give you more energy and enjoyment.

How you do time?
Everyone has a natural time preference, if you feel tired a lot or find you are constantly unproductive you are probably not working in your natural preference most of the time. Get back in touch with your natural time sort and plan activities around them.

Big or Small
People either think of time in big chunks of time, this could be months or even years or small chunks of time, usually in hours or even smaller.

Themes or Sequences
If you are an in the moment person, and prefer to get immersed in things then you think of time in Themes. If you think of time as Sequence by contrast, you may even see a diary planner in your mind and will like things to be planned out.

Here are some specific tips for organising the summer well for the different sorts:

Big Chunk Themer
As you like to get immersed in things and like to do so for long periods of time, plan to accommodate that if you can. For example you might work for three weeks and find clubs or other care for the children and then take two or three weeks to just focus on them and have family time. You might even find that going away for work or the children going away to visit grandparents for a period of time works well for you. Avoid too much dipping in and out of things as this will drain you and be realistic about what you will achieve work wise.

Small Chunk Themer
You also like to get immersed in things but will feel better doing it in small bits. You could do half days off and half days working. You also have more capacity for interruptions and spontaneous changes to plans than other time sorts, so embrace these if they happen. Avoid working from home with the kids around if possible though. No matter how self sufficient they are, you are more likely to get drawn into things or frustrated with it which will mean you lose focus and be less productive.

Big Chunk Sequencer
You will be best making a plan for the summer before it starts, it will help you to know everything is covered. Get a calendar on the wall and put everything on it by week or day so that you can see what’s coming up. You are best to take long periods off work than the odd day here and then. This will help you to focus on whatever you are doing, you will lose momentum if you flit around too much.

Small Chunk Sequencer
Make a detailed plan week by week, you can plan around changes in activities so can easily accommodate a week where you spend a few days working and a few days at home. You may even find organising bits of childcare like short trips out, gives you all you need to keep on top of work. Avoid cramming your diary though, this will only make you feel overwhelmed when you get there. Plan in time each day or week for the unknown to allow for any emergencies, spontaneous activities and some down time.

You may not have the ability to completely control your time, as there are other peoples’ priorities and constraints to consider. If you can plan with your preference in mind as much as possible, you will have a calmer, more productive and more enjoyable summer.

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