Wellness 2019 - The realness of the ‘invisible load’ – and how to take control.
By Anja van Beek, Agile Talent Strategist, Leadership Expert, and Coach
The ‘invisible load’ is real. Think about it. Think about all the roles you have to switch to daily. Perhaps this scenario will resonate: “The alarm goes off at 04:30 am and you pack all the lunchboxes. From there you finish off a presentation that you worked on last night. Whilst delivering that presentation you remind yourself you need to quickly stop at Woolies as you need to get something for your youngest teacher’s birthday tomorrow. On your way home to fetch the kids from aftercare, you also phone your husband to remind him that he needs to arrange with the gardener for this coming weekend. Oh, and you need to send your close friend a message to arrange a coffee for this weekend as she has been a bit off lately.”
Could this be you?
The theme for Women’s month 2019 is #WhatWomenWant and all women are encouraged to state, without any fear, what they really want.
Something beautiful happens in women when they stand up for what they believe in and see their voice carry power.
I have noticed that many women, at one point or another, struggle to find the time to cope with the demands of modern-day life (invisible load), especially as we are surrounded by technology. We are all ‘expected’ to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of our personal lives and professional careers. But it is a very tough task.
We will often hear “there just is not enough time in one day” (sounds familiar?) and sometimes they even feel run-down, frustrated or anxious. As a working and ambitious mother, I understand the importance of finding a balance between all the roles and responsibilities.
For me, it is summarized in the quote “Balance is not better TIME management, but better BOUNDARY management”.
This all boils down to BOUNDARIES.
If you are a go-getter and crave to feel less overwhelmed, consider one of these 5 suggestions:
1. Make time to reflect
Life goes "up and down"; like a heart rate's rhythm going up and down on a chart. Daily reflection can be a way of creating mind space as it allows you the opportunity to gain perspective on the situations, we find challenging. Many successful people make it a daily habit of taking time to reflect.
By reflecting, we can consider what didn’t work, acknowledge what went wrong and choose a different way to prevent it from happening again. It is also helpful to recognize your emotions in the “up and down” times. Ask yourself "What does the emotion mean and how can I use it to move closer to my goal?".
An easy way to start reflecting is to do a one-sentence journal every day; also list and incorporate something that you are grateful for. If you need some inspiration, Ulysses.org
provides a few good sentence starters: http://bit.ly/2GbBtD3
2. If you take on new things, consider what you’re going to park for a season?
All we have is time. The way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner; we all should find time to pursue goals and interests outside our family and work life. Having said that, I’m mindful that we sometimes take on too much. If you take on a new hobby, venture or enrol for a course, consider choosing something that you are currently doing that you can “park” for a season.
3. Learn to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty
‘No’ is also an answer. The truth is: if you say no, you are in fact just taking control of your life and prioritizing what is more important to you at that current time. Warren Buffet says, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” Read that again.
We can’t be all “yes-people” – imagine what the world would look like? When saying no, don’t beat around the bush or offer a weak excuse; just say it. In a study done by Prof Hagtveld he suggests one uses the words “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”. The latter might sound like an excuse whilst “I don’t” implies you have established certain boundaries for yourself.
4. Choose a support system you can trust
Most working women feel trapped. They feel they need to take control of every single aspect in their lives – personal and professional… and that is exhausting! We need to remember that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.
As we successfully delegate certain tasks at work; similarly, we need to delegate duties (invisible load) in our personal lives as well.
How do you get out of this overwhelmed feeling?
· ‘Perfect’ can be a blind spot. We so often want to control everything and letting go or asking for help might be the first step in finding balance.
· Get a support system in place that you can rely on. It could be arranging a lift-club at school, assigning a tutor or an au pair helping the kids with homework or choosing to do your grocery shopping online.
· Discuss sharing chores with your partner. Many modern partners are more open to taking on non-traditional tasks e.g. cooking dinner, doing the washing or putting the kids to bed.
· The best advice that I have received as a working mother was: “Be present in the moment”. This simply means choosing to focus on what you’re doing and not allowing your mind to wander to other urgent matters. I often find that when I’m busy helping the kids with homework my mind is already busy with the presentation for the next morning. I then need to refocus and choose to concentrate on the important and not the urgent.
You don’t have to be superwomen; decide what is important to you and stick with that.
5. Be intentional about “me time”
Many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed by what we need to do and achieve in a day. The reality is that women need to fill their own cup. When last did you make yourself a priority?
Be intentional about scheduling “me time” and decide what will really help you to recharge your batteries and relax. For some it will be choosing some sort of exercise, for others a little reading every day or unwinding with a glass of wine, will do wonders.
It all starts with you!
My wish for you is that Women Month 2019 marks the start of a journey owning your voice. May you be able to speak up and state, without fear, what you really want.
To track any newly made commitments, download the FREE Mandala Habit Tracker, which will help you in a creative way.
#WomenMonth2019 #WhatWomenWant #InspireWomen
Anja is a Talent Strategist and Leadership Coach. She was one of the first to be authorised as an Agile People professional and facilitator in 2018. The ex-Sage HR Director now consults with leaders and HR teams on all people-related aspects with a specific focus on adopting an agile mindset integrating agile principles and practices. She is a leadership coach and an expert in supporting teams to remain relevant and thrive in the future of work. She also works for various companies as a facilitator focusing on leadership development, mentoring and change management.