I read this article on female workers burning out at 30 and sent it around to a few female colleagues with this comment:
Take care of YOU first, ladies. Everyone else will follow suit when they see that – especially in a professional context. PS I’m burned out and moving to Tahiti.
Here’s what I immediately got back (anonymously since I didn’t have time to ask them for permission):
Coworker 1: The thing that is troubling is that women are killing themselves and burning out…and men aren’t killing themselves, and are getting promoted. And they didn’t even talk in here about the whole working Mom thing. Trust me ladies, that’s no picnic :)
Coworker 2: I find this particularly interesting and disturbing in light of all the stats I’ve read that there are more women in the workforce now than there are men. It’s time for women to shift their natural multi-task syndrome over to tasks that benefit our well-being as well as our career climb.
Coworkers 3: That is what I found was missing: talk about planning a wedding (or two) as one of our female coworkers is doing now, starting a family, and dealing with aging and ailing parents.
All so true. But here was the stat in the article that I found most interesting:
“Men are 25% more likely to take breaks throughout the day for personal activities, 7% more likely to take a walk, 5% more likely to go out to lunch, and 35% more likely to take breaks ‘just to relax.’”
Why don’t women do this? Because we think we’re not allowed to – we’re at work. Unlike boys, we’re brought up to be orderly and pleasing, and please we do, by being brilliant, bien sur, but also through means that can hurt us: multitasking, working ourselves to death, slavishly obeying our perfectionist impulses meanwhile cutting other corners that shouldn’t be cut.
So ladies, by all the power vested in me by, well, me, I give you permission to take walks. To go out to lunch. To take breaks JUST TO RELAX!
As I said to my coworkers, take care of yourself. Your self-possession will be respected and you’ll find it easier to keep your performance consistently high.
I’m telling you this not just because I’m all rah-rah-women! today, but because as a manager and as someone who’s become pretty good at managing my own energy, I can tell you, these breaks, these “personal indulgences,” will make you more, not less productive.
Your turn: Why do you think women burn themselves out – and what’s the solution?
Sara Grace is myGreenlight’s Program Director.