- Professional women are facing even more challenges during the pandemic, say well-being experts and authors Liz Koehler and Clare Davenport.
- At the University of Pennsylvania, they conducted research into the unique macro and micro transitions faced by women in their careers and their impact on overall job satisfaction and quality of work.
- Koehler and Davenport found that creating unapologetic boundaries, working in an uplifting environment, and investing wisely in friendships are key habits to develop for a well-balanced career.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Well-being is slumping at worrying rates for women. With COVID-19 and its resulting “she-cession,” some women may feel like we’ve backtracked 30 years — juggling our roles and responsibilities of work, family, and beyond.
People like to reference Rembrandt and Shakespeare who produced masterpieces during plagues, but they weren’t burdened by a constant plurality of roles, working a “second shift,” and often a third. The world is drenched in male-oriented models for a well-lived life, yet these often fail for women.
As well-being experts, business professionals, and mothers, we took it upon ourselves to discover a new model at this tumultuous time. We led research in 2020 at the University of Pennsylvania with female executives to examine how life’s constant changes, choices, and distractions ignite emotions that affect women’s well-being. We found that women can face more transitions than men, and often feel unsupported at the workplace and beyond. This, in turn, can affect job satisfaction, work quality, and productivity.
However, by combining creative problem-solving with an unapologetic focus and time management framework, we can successfully manage our conflicting duties and busy schedules and take back our lives, even during the pandemic.
Read more: Working moms are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Here are 3 ways leaders can foster a supportive culture for working parents, according to a LinkedIn VP
Drawing from the intersection of positive psychology, design thinking, habits, and behavioral change, we uncovered through our research nine daily “win the day” tools. They are:
1. Bring awareness to the here and now.
Begin by wiggling your toes, bringing awareness to the now. Research shows us that being more present increases our happiness and well-being. Remind yourself that you are right here, and you have a choice for how you want to show up as an employee, parent, partner, or friend.
2. Limit your choices — perfect is no longer trending.
Worrying and reacting to social comparison can quickly creating FOMO and choice fatigue. Satisfying means knowing when to stop, even if something may not be perfect. Limiting our choices and comparisons makes us happier. So, think twice and restrain yourself before opening up your social media, signing up for another activity or even deciding where to order dinner.
3. Create unapologetic boundaries.
Juggling work, family, and distractions is like a circus act with no intermission. Some interruptions occur when our brains become overactive or unfocused, while others are caused by external factors, like technology, a coworker or child. Research shows us that boundaries help us protect our emotional energy and give us more control.
Consider using awareness apps, time-blocking, or rules around your toleration limits. Also, consider saying no sometimes. Remember that saying no is saying yes to something else.
4. Be your own environmental designer.
Research demonstrates that a small change in what we see daily can make a positive difference. Uplifting online and offline environments can spark your sense of connection and vitality and help lower stress.
Design your workspace to thrive, with colors, lighting, air flow, visuals, and scents that you enjoy. Make sure your office and computer are free of clutter and organized, and that connecting with others is part of your routine.
5. Find freedom in planning and prioritizing.
Continuous distractions and multi-tasking can waste time and wreak havoc on our daily productivity and stress loads. Given limited time and energy, focus on pruning and prioritizing your to-do list. Complete the most important tasks early in the day, and consider chopping work into 25-minute blocks, focusing on one task at a time.
Read more: Read the pledge IBM’s leadership team created to promote better work-life balance for its remote employees and working parents
6. Charge your well-being battery.
It’s essential to recharge your batteries. Think of your top energy-giving and energy-draining activities and observe the patterns. Rearrange to maximize your timing of certain tasks.
Allowing for mini-breaks increases your overall productivity while helping to consolidate memories and new skills. So, when daily fatigue sets in, consider a stretch, a walk outside, or friend-calling instead of another cup of caffeine.
7. Choose and invest in your friendships wisely.
Friendships fill us. They boost our self-esteem, quality of work, and decrease illness. To improve well-being, focus on quality and frequency rather than quantity of friends. Social media often doesn’t fill this void. Take a thoughtful approach and consider consistently investing in fewer, quality friendships that will fill your friendship tank (not drain it).
8. Rinse and repeat for happy habits.
Establishing consistent habits can help reduce stress by freeing up time spent worrying or overthinking. Make your habits small, easy, and specific.Consider focusing on tiny habits that improve your overall well-being — like physical movement, healthy friendship, and sufficient sleep.
Let’s improve our happiness and well-being by beginning with more unapologetic
awareness and focus. Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments along the way, as few female superheroes are decorated with the accolades they deserve.
Clare Davenport is a positive psychology expert, life design coach, CEO and published author. She began her career at Goldman Sachs, followed by over 20 years in management consulting for Fortune 500 companies and managing businesses. Davenport works with business leaders, women’s groups, teams and individuals undergoing life transitions to evaluate and improve their well-being.
Elizabeth (Liz) Koehler, CFA, has been in the financial services industry for over 18 years and is currently the head of BlackRock’s Advisor Insights team. Her team develops and delivers educational programs and new insights for financial advisors and the investor clients, focused on business management, team leadership and organizations, portfolio and financial market insights – including women and investing.