Here Are 3 Mindsets To Watch Out For While You Work From Home
In the new world order that is emerging, most people agree that work from home is going to be a way of life for many white-collar workers who just need a good WiFi connection and a hardy compute to be able to work.
Many households will see both spouses and children glued to their devices trying to work and study. Most women will be bearing the domestic load and office load. Many women are going to be exhausted and emotionally drained.
If women want to retain their sanity and remain safe during this situation, they need to be aware of the mindsets that will interfere with their wellbeing.
I have noticed these mindsets in myself and many other women.
I am a great multitasker
You are not. No one is.
For too long, women have been told that they are great at multitasking- which means that they are expected to run around trying to do three to four things at one time and do them well. If not, they are failures. We may be able to do many things but doing them at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
Compelling research from the American Psychological Association shows that multitasking leads to a drop in efficiency and effectiveness. Unless the task is so routine and mundane- like chewing gum and walking, it is not possible to multitask well, even for women. You are not being a good mother or good employee if you are supervising your child’s homework and being on a zoom meeting at the same time. This is like texting while driving- you may get away with it for some time but there is a huge risk!
Sequencing tasks and setting healthy boundaries is needed. Focus on one thing at a time and do that well. Avoid the Multitasking trap.
My work is not that important
The current situation has shown what the essential services really are. The milkman is more important than the merchant banker. Nurses and doctors are bigger heroes than actors who portray heroes on the screen.
Most women, even ones in high paying jobs seem to believe that the work of the man is more important- that is the real work. Except for single moms and single women who are supporting their families, the man is always seen as the primary breadwinner and therefore accorded the superior status.
Women should not devalue their contribution- as home makers, teachers, or unpaid volunteers or whatever they do. Money is not the sole measure of the worth of a job. The woman who cooks meals to feed the labourers or teaches children on Zoom calls is doing a significant role as well.
If women do not value their work, no one else is going to. So don’t postpone and put off your work in favor of others needs. Being a martyr and sacrificing breeds more resentment and inequity in the long run. It is important to have some equitable division of work and it is also fine if someone in the family wants to do more. But this does not come from a mindset of ‘I am not important’ but from choice and love.
I have to be perfect
There is a compelling scene in the movie Marriage Story, where the lawyer played by Laura Dern says
‘ The idea of the Perfect Dad was only invented 30 years ago. Dads can be silent and absent and unreliable and selfish. We accept them. We love them for their fallibilities but people absolutely don’t accept the same failings in mothers… You will always be held to a different higher standard.’
Women have always been held to higher standards- as daughters, wives, mothers, daughters-in-law, workers and leaders. Women hold themselves to a higher standard. I have coached so many successful women leaders who feel that they don’t do enough, that they are not yet good enough.
This desire to uphold an ideal of perfection is not wrong. It helps women to get ahead, to succeed and find their place in the world. But often it takes a toll on their physical, mental and emotional health.
Replace I have to be perfect with I am good enough or I am great.
It is okay to mop the house once in three days. It is not a sin to order in two consecutive meals. Go for workability, not perfection.
Mindsets are not wrong or right. We did not choose our mindsets along the way. But we can now choose to be aware and make choices that serve us, our families and colleagues better. This is important not just in the post COVID-19 world but in any normal situation too. Instead of blaming the system or worrying about what people will say, adopt a mindset that helps you and helps others to help themselves.
Nirupama Subramanian is an author, leadership development facilitator, certified coach and co-founder of GLOW-Growing Leadership of Women. The views expressed are the author’s own.