The reality is that women continue to be the main carers for their children, home life and sometimes elderly parents. This is often coupled with a demanding career where women feel unable to switch off once they leave the office.
They worry about completing several projects at the same time, unmet deadlines due to underperforming colleagues or having limited resources which increases sickness rates. They never know how to say ‘no’ to extra tasks assigned by their manager, nor do they feel able to speak up for gender equality rights due to their organisation’s strict policies.
At home, many women help their children with online schooling, prepare several meals a day, tend to the household chores, attend medical appointments with their elderly parents and participate in charity events.
They feel that they have to do it all and the thought of delegating tasks is foreign to them. They don’t want to appear selfish or unhelpful. They also don’t want to appear as though they are incapable of performing their duties as a career woman and mother.
Women may also unknowingly be codependent on others, and so their self-worth is measured by the number of people they can help. In time, they fulfil these tasks from a place of people’s expectations and not from their heart. This is not healthy and will eventually lead to resentment, anger and exhaustion. At the same time, they will feel valued and needed.
By the time a woman gets home, she is mentally, emotionally and physically drained. Her life may feel as though she is spinning on a merry-go-round that won’t stop. Her children bickering over the TV remote control can lead her to yell at them. Later on, she will feel guilty about her outburst and apologise to them.
You cannot pour from an empty cup. This is a common phrase, and yet many of us ignore it until the cup cracks or we burn out. All the coffee in the morning, powerful mantras and prayers will not help the situation.
Here are five tips on how you can fill your cup and let it spill over so that people drink from the saucer and not from your soul!
1. Admit that you are overwhelmed, stressed and unable to solve everyone’s problems. Self awareness is key to knowing how you’re feeling from within. Be honest with yourself and look at your activities over the past month. Are there any tasks that you can delegate, delete or defer? Speak to those concerned and ask them to step in. Delegating tasks does not mean that you are incompetent. It means you are working smarter and not harder.
2. Limit your distractions. Put your mobile phone in your drawer. Let your colleagues know that you are unavailable for a period of time. Focus on one project and time yourself using the pomodoro method. (It consists of working for 25 minute periods and taking five minute breaks. After the fourth 25 minute period you take a 15 minute break.) This helps you know how long you are working on a project and also gives you the mental break in between the sets.
3. Listen to your body and know when your energy levels are at their best. For example, if you are a morning person, focus on tasks that require a lot of energy. In the afternoon, when your energy levels slump, you can focus on less demanding tasks.
4. Know that self care is not the same as being selfish. For many years, we’ve been taught that self care is selfish and so we put our needs last. No one will die if dinner is 15 minutes late or the laundry is not packed away. No one will notice if you turn your mobile phone notifications off in the evenings whilst you spend time with your children.
5. Let your extended family know that you’re unavailable on a Sunday as you need to rest. Take time out and enjoy your hobbies, spend time in nature or watch light-hearted movies. Hire help to take care of the household chores or have meals cooked for the week in advance.
This is part of my entrepreneurial journey as I partner with HR Directors to help them attract, recruit and retain talented people from diverse backgrounds. Embedding diversity and inclusiveness models into their policies, processes and practices will help pave the way for all employees to have equal opportunities. That is what I also plan to do here, in this series of articles on MaltaCEOs.mt.
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