Everything’s happened at once this week. My Granny died and though she'd been lost to dementia for a long time, and it was expected, it’s still knocked us sideways.
I also have a family friend who’s passed away unexpectedly, age 52, so I’ll have two funerals to attend next week.
Both my Granny and my family friend wouldn’t want me to ease up on my midwifery support business and writing so I’m trying to keep the plates spinning while doing family stuff. And it’s an unexpectedly beautiful February with canopy blue skies and cold air. Enjoying this is vital.
Aspiring, student and qualified midwives are often overwhelmed. When you’re midwifery inclined you’ll have a caregiving role in your community and family. You'll typically do a lot of carrying everyone down the path.
I have no idea what’s going on for you at the moment but I know you have inner strength and I also know it can feel hard to get that out into the world just because of the sheer volume of life admin!
My granny was a tenacious person. She ran a small business selling floor tiles while bringing up two kids and an endless stream of rescue dogs. Her time management skills were second to none. To be honest, I was quite scared of her when I was little, she had strict rules, and her dogs could be a bit bitey (!) but as I grew up I had respect and love for her.
My life is jam-packed right now.
I bet yours is too.
I remember my Granny tackling things bravely, straight to the point.
Here are my time management strategies based on her example.
This will show you how an old-school, overly busy, incredible woman organised her life and got all the important tasks done, while still enjoying her kids and dogs:
- Sit down for twenty minutes and make a big list of everything you need to get done. This should include midwifery training, any revalidation work due, but also stuff like needing to do the washing, birthday cards, bills to pay, doctors appointments etc. The aim is to get everything out of your head down on paper. Once it’s on paper it will stop chasing your thoughts around and you’ll be able to tackle things one at a time.
- Cross out any tasks that don’t need to be done (coffee with that person you secretly find really annoying? If there’s not a good reason, remember you’ve only got one life, seize the carp and politely decline) - and cross out tasks you think you ‘should’ do but aren’t actually that keen on!
- Crucial: ask for help. Where can you delegate or pull in a favour? Remember how good it feels to know you're helping, it may be there are people in your life who are just waiting for you to ask.
- Put the tasks into categories. Those that need doing today, tomorrow, and this week. Those that need doing next week. Those that need doing next month. And those that can be left until beyond that. Then plan out the next two weeks using your diary, write out all the tasks. Add all appointments and shifts to your calendar. You now have a plan and even if you don’t manage to carry it all off, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what needs doing and the essentials will get sorted early.
- Schedule in at least one thing a week that you just WANT to do. It might be escapism with a book or TV series. Or a beauty session. My granny would have taken the dogs out for a three hour romp in the country somewhere.
- Always have tea and snacks on hand for all of this planning. My granny liked Earl Grey and brazil nuts (and secretly, biscuits).
This process will save you time and effort getting everything done. You’ll then have more headspace to be with the women you’re caring for and you’ll be able to enjoy the people around you. Being organised with a calendar might sound basic but this is all the successful, caring people I know to do this or something like it.
The opportunities to enjoy life can slip through your fingers if you lose them all to just tasks. Midwifery time management on wards is so difficult, you won't have time to write lists, but the same structure should apply. Do the most important things, delegate and ask for help if possible. Try and do at least one thing a shift which you really enjoy.
The picture at the top of this post is my Granny getting married in 1948. She’s 18 years old. She died aged 89 still married to my Grandad. She was a woman who handled a lot and her life wasn’t easy.
But she loved the time she had with her family and pets and we will always remember her as a woman of strength, tenacity and a wicked sense of fun. She knew how to prioritise.
Hope this helps you as much as me,
Much Love, Ellie x
P.S. I’d love to hear a) what lessons have you learnt from your older family members that apply to midwifery and b) how do you manage your time?
Leave a comment letting me know!