When you have a full-time job and a family, how do you make time for what matters to you personally? Sonia Harris shares how she's doing it.
When you know what matters to you
UK resident Sonia Harris works full-time as a professional in the community justice field in England. She's also a mom of two, a proud grandmother, and a coach with a passion for helping others. We talked recently about how she manages to make time for the things that matter most to her.
As a child, Sonia wanted to be a teacher or a probation officer when she grew up, but not everyone believed she could do either. Because she was shy and introverted, she was once encouraged to pursue needlework as a career. She's glad she didn't follow that advice or accept those limitations. She actually did become a teacher, and now has been a probation practitioner for over 20 years. She uses her teaching and coaching skills to help others overcome obstacles and reach forward to achieve their full potential. She loves working with people who want more for themselves.
A Typical Day
A typical day for Sonia starts around 6:30 a.m. with a morning ritual that helps her to prepare for the day. She commutes into work either on the train or in the car and often listens to podcasts during her commute.
After her workday she commutes home, where she allows herself some time to rest and connect with her 17-year-old son before spending time on building her business, working on marketing and helping others with marketing.
As part of her evening routine, to prepare for a good night of rest, she turns off her computer at a certain time, knowing that whatever isn’t done can wait. She gives herself an hour to indulge in anything that has to do with her love of superheroes or sci-fi. About an hour before bed she turns off her screens and spends time reading.
Biggest productivity challenges
Currently, Sonia’s biggest challenge is related to her health. In 2013, Sonia was struck with Viral Meningitis. She spent several weeks in the hospital, and even after her release the illness left her with headaches and fatigue and affected her speech and hearing. Finding ways to manage her work and family obligations became a priority for her.
Sonia had read Stephen Covey’s7 Habits of Highly Effective People earlier in life, so after her illness she looked to the tools she'd gained from that book to help her to stay productive despite the illness's lingering effects. While her health is much better now, she still has headaches, memory problems, and other health concerns to manage.
Once she got sick, Sonia learned how to say no. She drew upon lessons learned from books like Essentialism and The One Thing to realize that she can say no and focus on what matters most to her. She feels like she can gently offer support to others who ask for her help without taking on the full responsibility to the detriment of the other things she’s committed to.
Productivity tools Sonia recommends
One of Sonia’s favorite tools is Evernote. She always has ideas that come into her head, and she's learned that our brains are better suited to having ideas rather than storing them, so she's diligent about capturing ideas when she has them. She uses Evernote on her computer, iPad, phone, etc., and she uses the Evernote Web Clipper when she finds useful information on the internet. Evernote's tagging feature helps her easily find the information she's saved.
Sonia likes collecting information and sharing it. For that purpose, Facebook is a favorite tool that has allowed her to share things with people she’s connected with. She has also used YouTube to share videos for her business.
What happens on a day you feel gets away from you?
Sonia tries to keep her routine and planning really simple, but it has taken her a lot of practice. In order to accomplish the things she wants to outside of her day job, she has learned to let go of her perfectionist tendencies and simply get things done.
Having those simple systems in place make it possible to adjust with minimal stress when the unexpected happens. She shared an example of when her day was derailed when her kitten jumped out of their two-story window. When things like that happen, Sonia is able to put herself in the moment and doesn’t stress about what she was going to do. Wherever she is, she realizes it's important to be in that moment.
In those situations, when the day as planned has to be reevaluated, Sonia will quickly prioritize in her head, then deal with the crisis or emergency. Even though she is taken away from what she was supposed to be doing, she knows she usually can get back on track because she knows where her focus needs to be.
To put it simply, Sonia gives herself permission to not worry about what she was supposed to be doing if her day goes off track. Life happens to all of us, and we have to keep that in mind. Instead of filling every moment with back-to-back commitments, we can simplify and learn to say no when it's appropriate; this then gives us room to function when things fall apart.
Last words on making a life that matters
Sonia recommends listening to podcasts as a resource for improving your life and overcoming your challenges. She reminds us that thanks to podcasts we so close to experts, even though we are miles and miles apart. Take advantage of that tool to help you learn and grow.
What do you think?
Are you trying to pursue personal interests and/or a side business while managing a full-time job and a family? What tools or systems work for you? Share your questions or suggestions in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman community Facebook group, or email me!
Connect with Sonia:
More about Sonia
Sonia says, “I’m a mum of two. I have a daughter in her thirties with two children of her own, aged 7 and 6. I also have a 17-year-old son at home. I’ve been with my partner for 22 years. I have a 9-to-5 job in the community justice service. I started my career as a teacher, went on to be a Youth Worker, and then completed my Diploma in Social Work to work as a Probation Officer. I’ve always had an interest in learning and development, and now in my role, I work with trainees. I was introduced to the home business industry when my partner lost her job. I discovered personal development, and after attending a Tony Robbins seminar 14 years ago, I became interested in coaching and became a qualified Life Coach. When I’m not working my job, working on my business, or completing family tasks, you’ll find me digesting the latest super hero or science fiction film or series.”
Resources and Tools:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, by Stephen Covey
- The One Thing, by Gary Keller
- Essentialism, by Greg McKeown
- Deep Work, by Carl Newport
- Smartphone apps in general
- Facebook and YouTube
- Email autoresponders
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