Work/life balance struggles? Try shifting focus instead

By Claire Mansell.

As a busy mum of two young children and an owner of two businesses, finding work/life balance is something I have struggled with for years. It was only when I realised that for me, balance was impossible to achieve, and I was instead better off ‘shifting focus’ between family, life and work, that I started to become more productive and content.

It’s a way of life that works really well for me. I choose to focus on one thing at a time, and find myself so much more engaged and capable of achieving what I need to. By adopting the following five tactics and letting go of the stress of trying to achieve balance, my life has been transformed.

1.     Focus on one major task at a time

Women are talented at multi-tasking. As a mother and business owner this skill has served me well. Yet juggling a few large tasks at one time made me increasingly unproductive. As I have two businesses, it’s important for me to create space and designate times to work on each. When I’m working on one, I focus solely on it. I don’t jump between email accounts. This is something I used to do and it just made me frustrated, stressed and lowered my productivity.

The same goes when I’m spending time with my children. I have a strict rule of turning my phone off and being fully present at certain times of the day such as in the mornings and before their bedtime.

2.     Work in sprints

I know this doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me. I choose to work by having productive periods, followed by downtime. I have recently launched my second business, which was more of a marathon than a sprint, as it was an intense six months. But I’m now rewarding myself with down time.

3.     Always allow time to refuel

Holidays have always been very important to me. It is not as easy as it used to be, but my husband and I book in at least one big holiday a year, and try to get away on weekends. Even when I’m going through an intensive sprint period with my businesses, I try not to work on weekends and instead spend this time with my family and refuelling.

4.     Be flexible

As a mum and business owner, I always plan for the unexpected! The launch of my second business recently coincided with my 18 month old getting so sick he was hospitalised. Family always come first and everything had to wait. Things always work out; you just need to move your focus to the priority.

5.     Be organised and plan, plan, plan

The only way I have been able to provide an environment to shift between family and work is by planning in advance. When I decided to launch my second business last year, I made plans way ahead of time to have my parents, who live in South Africa, to come and live with us for a year so they could assist. They have been an amazing support this last year. I also make sure I’m extremely organised with both businesses. When I finish up working on each business for the day I will write a list of everything that needs to be done the next day. Being organised ensures that most of the time there is a smooth transition between life and business. This is a win for my businesses, family and most importantly myself ensuring I am productive, content and happy.

Claire Mansell is the proud mother of 2 and the Director of Mansell Taylor Consulting and the Founder of Motivated Mummy Entrepreneurship.


Her career has taken her from South Africa, to the UK to Australia. For over 15 years she has worked in professional services partnering with executives of corporate businesses. While on maternity leave in 2013 her managerial role was made redundant and within a few days she had set up her own consulting business. 

With her business consulting knowledge, sales background and her entrepreneur skills she is now ‘paying it forward’, motivating and supporting mum entrepreneurs to live the life they dream of and deserve.