Favorite Organization Tool:

Quip list maker app that multiple users can edit/share; an “old school” Day Timer; Microsoft Outlook to sync my work and personal calendars on my computers and my phone.

3 Most-Consistent Challenges & How You Work to Resolve Them

❑ Finding time to be involved in so may of the community organizations that I want to work with. This year, I plan to focus on becoming involved with one specific organization and add another to the list next year.

❑ Taking a step back. For so long I’ve felt like I’m handling all of my responsibilities – lawyering, cooking, keeping the house clean, raising children, being a wife, being a friend, etc. – without being excellent at any of them. I now take a step back and determine what responsibilities require my full attention and focus on that while not feeling guilty.

❑ Feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities. I make short and long term personal and professional goals, write them down, and prioritize. I remind myself to be patient and kind with myself and others; it always works out the way it’s supposed to.

DonloynGadsonHeadshotDonloyn LeDuff Gadson; Writer, Creator, Inspiration Specialist; www.Donloyn.com; www.KeepingUpWithTheCrazy.com
Children: Brandon (21 years old), Noah (13 years old), Lauryn (12 years old), twins John-Paul and Allen-Michael (9 years old), Thomas, (7 years old), twins Kourtney and Chloe, (5 years old)

Favorite Organization Tool:

My command center with 3 large dry erase boards to track schedules, chores, and behavior; 2 cork boards to keep important notes from school and display awards and artwork; an 8-cube organizational unit for storing book bags and a 3-cube organizational unit with baskets for storing any supplies the kids may need.

3 Most-Consistent Challenges & How You Work to Resolve Them

❑ Putting My Creativity on a Schedule. Building a successful writing career while being a wife and mom of 8 leaves little time to dedicate to uninterrupted writing and creativity does not come with some switch you can just flip on and off. When inspiration strikes, I jot down notes for myself as soon as possible so I can further develop the ideas when I do have time to fully focus on my work.

❑ Time: Time and I have a serious love-hate relationship. There is always this constant race against the clock. I find it’s vital to respect time by making a conscious effort to be in the moment, by being realistic about how much time I will need for certain things, and by setting myself up for success.

❑ Falling Victim to the Overwhelm. Whenever I allow the chaos of home and career responsibilities to pile up, I feel overwhelmed, defeated, and uninspired. I find it’s important to find that sweet spot – the harmonious space between order and chaos. I can’t be so regimented that I become rigid and lifeless. I find I have to allow just enough chaos in my life to inspire and motivate me. I have to allow myself to see the beauty in bedlam. It also helps to recognize that creating harmony between home and career is not about balance – it’s about prioritizing. For me, balance suggests giving equal portions of yourself to everything at all times. That makes me feel divided. However, setting priorities allows you to give 100% of yourself to the task (or person) at hand.

ShannonJonesShannon Jones; Attorney, Shannon Jones Law Firm, LLC; www.shannonjoneslaw.com
Children: Liam (7 years old) and Iva (5 years old)

Favorite Organization Tool:

To-do Lists. I make or revise my to-do lists everyday. I actually have a professional to-do list AND a personal to-do list. I have a system where I put a star next to things that are absolute priorities, check mark tasks I begin but I am unable to complete, and do not cross them off the list until they are done. I love crossing things off the list and could never remember everything or prioritize my time without a to-do list!

3 Most-Consistent Challenges & How You Work to Resolve Them

❑ The desire to be with my children and the demand of my time at work. I am a planner so I handled this challenge by creating a plan. I started my own law practice because I hoped it would give me more flexibility with my time and worked hard to develop a schedule and professional team that have enabled me to pick the kids up from school some days and get home in time to oversee homework and cook a good meal. It doesn’t always work; but when it does, I feel a great amount of satisfaction.

❑ Making time for me. I am still failing at this challenge, but I am not giving up! I have not had a regular exercise routine since my son was born, mostly because I feel guilty if I make time to do something away from my children since I have to be away from them when I work. I don’t think I’m alone in that guilt. But to be the best parent, you have to pay attention to your own health. I am hoping to check this one off the New Year’s Resolution list in 2015.

❑ Trying to do too much. I sometimes find myself feeling like I have to do everything or it won’t get done right. I am a decent delegator, but I could reduce a lot of stress in my life if I just followed Elsa’s advice and “Let it go!” by letting others help me more.

NandiniMcCauleyNandini Banik McCauley; Director of Marketing and Communications, College of Charleston School of the Arts
Children: Seven-year-old daughter

Favorite Organization Tool:

Google Apps (Mail, Calendar and Drive) organize my email, professional and personal calendars and numerous files all in one place, and they are accessible on my various computers and mobile devices. This enhances my ability to work from multiple locations and also to attend to unexpected deadlines. I back up my most important files on a physical hard drive, just to be safe.

3 Most-Consistent Challenges & How You Work to Resolve Them

❑ Working from home. I am fortunate to work partly from home and sometimes require quiet time to focus on a deadline without interruptions. Especially when my daughter was younger, I would turn quiet time into a game involving a chore. For example, her mission may be to clean her bedroom as neatly as possible for 30 minutes (without interrupting me) before “the inspector” (me dressed up in a costume complete with silly accent) arrived. I’d give her a feather duster, an empty water spray bottle and other tools that she thought were fun to use. Sometimes I added specific goals, such as organizing her books by color on her bookshelf or arranging stuffed animals on her bed to make a pretend zoo. Now that she’s older, we’ll play “school” to help finish homework in a timely and amusing manner while I work on several tasks.

❑ Wanting to spend cherished time with my little one, yet having a constant, insurmountable pile of work to complete. I focus on my biggest priority or last-second request and then have time to spend with her.

❑ Being cautious of the distractions of technology. I don’t want my daughter to grow up observing me constantly on the phone or laptop, so unless I am awaiting an important call or message, I place them out of sight. At the same time, I don’t want to miss a critical notification, so I mostly check messages while my child is occupied. Otherwise, during family time on weekends or other days off from work, I limit the use of my phone and computer altogether.

NarissiaSkinnerNarissia Skinner; Executive Assistant to the Commander, US Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District
Children: Montel (18 years old) and Keishon (13 years old)

Favorite Organization Tool:

Calendar (Outlook and Google)

3 Most-Consistent Challenges & How You Work to Resolve Them

❑ Work/life balance. Set priorities and stick to them and make time for both career and family, not forgetting time for yourself to be able to rejuvenate!

❑ Flexibility. Because I have to have schedules to be able to function, it is imperative to be flexible and to be able to adapt to changes as they arise.

❑ Stepping outside of my comfort zone. I have to do this to make an effort to grow as a professional and as a person. Taking on things that aren’t necessarily in my lane or my area of responsibility to grow my talents, skills, and abilities.

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