How to Excel at the Working From Home Juggling Act
You've Got This. How to Excel at the Working From Home Juggling Act
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If you are a woman working from home (WFH) and you’re not feeling okay, if you’re feeling more pressure, more stretched, or more stressed than usual, know that you aren’t alone. Far from it.
Women are shouldering a much heavier burden of household labor and caregiving during COVID-19, and it’s taking a toll – they’re experiencing physical symptoms of stress and burnout at up to twice the rate of men. (1)
When the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly viral head, prevention measures forced millions of people globally to stay home – a phenomenon that’s been nicknamed the Great Pause. The Great Pause makes it sound tranquil, like a serene time of rest. For many, especially women, and most especially Black women (2) and single mothers (3), it has been anything but.
The Great Juggling Act would seem more fitting.
Our Current Reality
WFH during COVID-19 probably means you're struggling to maintain focus, to deliver results while worrying about how your elderly parents are faring, to respond to work emails with positivity while wondering if you’ll still have a job next week, to raise a child, who might not understand what’s happening, while being present for a big company ’must be on-screen‘ video meeting. (4)
As a result of the dynamic forces caused by the pandemic, one in three women is considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. (5)
Women around the world are feeling the pandemic pressure. But you don’t have to give up what you love. You just need the right support.
There are lots of articles circulating about the importance of setting up a home office or how to best schedule your WFH day. But that doesn’t really help women cope. So, we’ve compiled a list of six tips from women who are finding ways to concentrate in chaos and make remote work work for them.
#1 Balance is Bogus – Find What Works for You
One of the most impactful slides I've ever seen at a women's conference was just three words, in large font: "Balance is Bogus. Everybody talks about helping you achieve work/life balance.
Achieving work/life balance, especially during a pandemic, is the stuff that legends are built on. Like the Fountain of Youth in mythology, balance is an ideal that we spend too much of our lives chasing (and feeling guilty about when we don’t achieve it). The reality is that something is going to give. And that’s okay. We are all just doing the best we can. Forget balance. Find what works for you and let go of the guilt. ---- Laurie
#2 Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you have kids, noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have. If your employer won’t buy them for you, buy them for yourself. I wear mine even when I’m not on a call to help me concentrate and decrease my Tylenol consumption. When it comes to WFH, silence is golden. --- Nadia
#3 Stop Listening to Anybody or Anything That Makes You Feel Bad
In the Spring I was suffering from empathy burnout. I was absorbed in pandemic news feeds, and I was reading everybody’s social posts, on top of listening to my family and extended family’s worries. It was really taking a toll on me.
I learned to unfriend and unfollow. And I don’t just mean toxic people – but those people especially. I’ve also unfollowed and unfriended people who are awesome, but who’s current reality doesn’t align with mine (read: their seemingly-idyllic lifestyle made me feel bad). I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of news feeds too. I read the headlines, but rarely watch the footage.
Since making these choices, my stress has decreased, and my empathy is greater. --- Becca
#4 Power Down for 15 Minutes
Did you know cell phone batteries last longer if you power your phone off for a few minutes a few times a week? Same principle applies to you. You are less likely to burn out if you take a little time for yourself.
You’re already stretched thin, so you’re probably thinking – WHAT TIME? There’s any number of ways to do it, but the big thing is to step away from your coffee table office, mute your phone, ply your kids with snacks and shows, do whatever it takes to just be you for a few minutes. Set an alarm or put it on your calendar as a recurring appointment. For fifteen minutes (more if you can manage it) don’t be mom, don’t be an employee, don’t be a wife or caregiver – just be you.
You can meditate if that’s your thing, put on music you treasured as a teenager and dance, have a quick bath, doodle or color, read a chapter of a book, go outside for fresh air, or just stare out the window it doesn’t matter what you do with your 15 minutes. But by turning off, you can come back on charged up.
I lock myself in my room, light a candle that smells awesome, and eat chocolate. No judgement. --- Angie
#5 Have a Cheerleader and Listen to Them
We all need someone in our life that lifts us up – a person that doesn’t judge us, or offer unsolicited advice, or want something from us. Someone who is there to remind us that we are awesome. When you feel like you are sinking, call or text that person. Let them remind you that you are doing the impossible and that you are amazing, remarkable, brilliant, capable, and going to be fine. And (here’s the hard part), actually listen to them. --- Daniella
#6 Stop Acting Like This is Normal
Let’s be clear: working from home is not the same as working from home during a pandemic. I’m an A-type personality. Lately between kids and work I seem to run around like I’m on fire. But I try to remember not to hold myself to the same standard as before. I’m trying to let go of perfection. It’s hard. I’m a work in progress. --- Lilla
Looking for more WFH tips and encouragement? Download the eBook – We’re Listening: In Support of Women Working Remotely. It’s full of support, motivation, and other ways you can make remote work work for you.
(1) LeanIn.org, Women are maxing out and burning out during COVID-19. https://leanin.org/article/womens-workload-and-burnout
(2) McKinsey and LeanIn, Women in the Workplace Study 2020. https://wiw-report.s3.amazonaws.com/Women_in_the_Workplace_2020.pdf
(3) LeanIn.org, Women are maxing out and burning out during COVID-19. https://leanin.org/article/womens-workload-and-burnout
(4) Refinery29, I‘m Taking It Minute By Minute Real Women On Adjusting To WFH. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/05/9750413/working-from-home-during-coronavirus-women-stories
(5) McKinsey and LeanIn, Women in the Workplace Study 2020. https://wiw-report.s3.amazonaws.com/Women_in_the_Workplace_2020.pdf