Do Women Have to be Olympic Athletes to be Successful?

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Slowly but surely women are taking a seat at the professional table. Women like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, have brought women leaders to the forefront. However, women continue to make up less than 5.0% of Fortune 500 CEOs and a measly 5.3% of Fortune 1000 CEOs. Less surprising are these numbers: On average, women do 60% of the unpaid work including household work and taking care of the children. In addition, women still spend twice as much time with kids than dads.

The role men play on the home front is valuable, there is no doubt. They have taken on two and a half times more of the domestic workload over the past two decades, as compared to the middle of the 20th century. The amount of time spent with their children has also increased significantly; and while they are often the primary breadwinner in the home, (although women are quickly closing the gap) most homes are no longer single income.

So what do all these numbers tell us? Both men and women are working harder than ever at home and in the office. However, statistically, women carry more of the weight of domestic responsibility in addition to sharing the professional load – historically, a burden carried primarily by men. The result: less free time, longer work days and an ever increasing pile of laundry. So how do these CEOs and CHOs (Chief Household Operators) keep so many balls in the air? We don’t… not without help.

5 Ways to be a Champion without Having to Break Records

1. Ask for help… and then accept it. For some reason women are under the misconception they must do everything perfectly and without help. Our social media driven world certainly doesn’t help to dispel this falsehood. Not only are our expectations of ourselves ridiculously absurd (and impossible) they unfair to those around you. No matter how good you are at what you do, others can be just as good and even better at times. Enlist their help and step back, allowing them to do the task you delegated. My mother once told me “No one can help you with the things they don’t know about.” It’s a great adage to live by!

2. Organize, Organize, Organize. Whether you are and old school paper and pencil woman, or a technological guru, there is an organizational system that will work right for your situation. Juggling work responsibilities, projects and deadlines while also having to remember the field trip permission slip, bake sale donation, and book report due date is too much for anyone to manage without a system. Get organized. Although I work in digital marketing and the majority of my time is spent in the technology sector, I live and die by my good ol’ fashion, paper, spiral-bound calendars. When it comes to my “To Dos”, I need to write it down (in pencil), see it, adjust it, and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing it out when it’s completed. I have one calendar for my work life and one for my professional life. This allows me to coordinate my schedule to appease the needs of all my “jobs.”

3. Set reasonable expectations… for yourself and others. There was a time when I could function on 5 hours of sleep, no coffee, and a “To Do” list with no less than 30 things. That time has come and gone. There are too many moving parts and demands on my time to expect that I can effectively keep so many balls in the air without dropping at least two- more likely 10. Setting reasonable goals forces me to prioritize my responsibilities and allows me to successfully meet the expectations of others as well as myself. It also eliminates the guilt and frustration that follows if I don’t.

4. Learn to say no… to both your colleagues and your family. We women would like to be all things to all people. We want to volunteer at school as well as sit at the head of the conference table. Sometimes, that will be possible. Most of the time it will not and we will have to say no to someone- even our sweet spouse or child on occasion. Sharing responsibilities and delegating will certainly help cut down on the amount of “nos” you have to dish out. However, there will be times that you can’t take on any more or are unable to meet someone’s needs. Set that expectation now and be ok with saying ‘no.’

5. Embrace imperfection. No matter how organized your calendar or perfectly structured your chain of command is, nobody is perfect (man or woman). Sometimes you will need an extension on a project. Other times the laundry may sit in the basket for over a week and breakfast for dinner is more of a necessity than a “creative and fun” idea. It’s ok. At the end of the day, your most important priorities will be complete and the other, less important stuff will surely be there when you wake up. Especially the laundry.

Both men and women are working at full capacity these days. The demands on our time are endless and it’s easy to feel as though the day is never really over. Ultimately, I don’t see this phenomenon changing any time soon. The burden of professional and domestic responsibilities can feel like an albatross around our necks; and no matter how much we kick and paddle to get to the surface, it’s difficult to keep our head above water. Throw yourself a buoy- ask for help, get organized, set reasonable expectations, learn to say, no and embrace your imperfections.

 

Want to know more? Click here for some interesting stats on women in business.

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