Smart Moves: Jugglers keep it all up in the air

Portfolio careers, letting women balance work with family, pets and friends, are the answer for those who want it all, says Joanna Parfitt

It is a well-known fact that men can only do one thing at once, while women can juggle several tasks simultaneously. Perhaps this is why so many women choose to have both children and a career?

The trend is slipping away from emulating Superwoman from nine to five and Supermum the rest of the time. Mothers are still trying to have it all, only now they want it in child-sized portions.

Portfolio careers are ideal for jugglers. For if you are already keeping a family, pets, friends and the school PTA in the air, then it is only a small step to add an assortment of careers to your list.

It is not uncommon for someone to work in an office by day and then in a restaurant by night, so the idea of having more than one job is not new. The difference between this and a portfolio of careers, is that portfolio workers are freelance and usually work from home. Of course, this means that there are no company benefits or paid holidays, but instead you have variety and total flexibility.

Sue Valentine, for example, has a PhD in Food Science and eight years ago worked full-time in a management position for a drinks vending company. Marriage and children caused her a career rethink.

"I did not want to lose my professional identity, but wanted to find work that fitted in with my new lifestyle," she explains.

For Sue one skill has led to another. Her food science background acted as a starting point for a wide variety of related projects. She has self- published a cookery book on dates, undertaken freelance product development and consultancy and now writes a monthly cookery column for a local magazine. Producing the book led her to explore the craft of photography, which has, in turn, encouraged her to start her own photo library. Her skills base and experiences have evolved into a series of workshops on career management which she hopes will be adopted by the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

"I follow every lead and take every opportunity that comes my way to see which ones produce something concrete," Dr Valentine says.

For Bobbie Meyer, an interest in gardening and writing have filled her professional portfolio with an ever-expanding range of careers.

"My freelance journalism led naturally to photography, a gardening column and latterly a commission to write and illustrate a book on topiary for Search Press. Along the way I decided to start my own publishing imprint, Sage Press, which launched The Collector's Series of Trees last November," Meyer says.

"My interest in topiary prompted me to start importing box [an evergreen shrub] from Belgium and I am now bidding to contract publish the Topiarist magazine for the European Box and Topiary Society."

"I think of my work as a constantly changing kaleidoscope of possibilities and seem to hoover up other skills as I go along," Meyer says.

One of the dangers of portfolio careers is that, with so many areas of business to promote, it can be hard to focus and easy to spread yourself too thinly.

Belinda Williams runs a series of workshops in Kent and Sussex, addressing issues related to working from home and portfolio careers. She recognises the many problems faced by homeworkers. "Achieving the right balance is not easy. It is easy to devote too much time to areas of low profit, for example. Rather than adopting a regular, low-key approach to marketing, people tend to have great bursts of publicity when the work has dried up. Inevitably, several contracts arrive together and panic sets in," Williams says.

Time management is the key to effective juggling. Not only should you allocate time for work in each area of your business, but you should also schedule your family and social life, as well as working time alone. It sounds easy but is, in fact, a skill which takes a lot of learning.

Cary L Cooper and Suzan Lewis have conducted extensive research into the subject of the work-life balance. In their recent book Balancing Your Career, Family and Life, they recognise the threat of overload.

Yet women cope well with a juggler's lifestyle. In a US survey of 164 professional women, who combined career and family, few thought working a staggering 107-hour week was unacceptable.

Cooper and Lewis suggest that learning the skills of assertiveness and delegation is essential. Setting realistic goals, recognising your limitations and establishing clear boundaries between work and home are vital too.

It is said that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person. Perhaps that is why Sue Valentine does voluntary work too, as chair of the school PTA and co-ordinator of the Surrey Branch of the Women in Business Society. Bobbie Meyer has set up a network for freelancers in Rye and supports local causes. But perhaps this wide range of activities is the reason for their success.

For more information about the Working From Home workshop call 0800 0923331. If you are interested in `The Collector's Series of Trees' visit the website on press.trees for further details.

For further information about the Surrey Branch of Women in Business Society call Sue Valentine on 01372 748459. `Balancing Your Career, Family and Life' by Cary L Cooper and Suzan Lewis is published by Kogan Page at pounds 8.99.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK

A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink


Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past