Currently, the data we have regarding this unprecedented time in history, shows that working moms – especially those of colour and those in senior roles – are most at risk of maxing out and burning out. A study conducted by McKinsey and LeanIn, indicates that we are at risk of losing millions of our female workforce. Why? Because, despite some shifts in gender roles, the burden of domestic chores and child rearing still falls mostly on women. Before Covid, men and women were equally likely to leave the workforce. This statistic has changed significantly. Now, women are 1.3 times more likely to leave. So, why am I telling you this?
Firstly, with Mother’s Day celebrated yesterday in most countries around the globe, now is a perfect opportunity to salute and acknowledge us working moms. Thank you for all the effort you bring to your various roles and for being WOW! MOM turned upside down is WOW… that’s no coincidence. I know and coach many incredible WOW working moms. Let’s celebrate and bring support every day. This leads me to my second reason for writing…
Here’s some practical Key Steps we can take to help ourselves. These apply to both working moms and dads so we can …

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’
  1. Practise self-care: This might be going for a regular massage, taking 10 minutes to yourself each day for a quiet cup of coffee or tea, sleeping in one Saturday a month and so on. Whatever it is that you need to care for yourself, make it a priority and take Key Steps that allow you to be your best and achieve wellbeing in all facets of your life. This is not selfish but rather very smart. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
  2. Ask for what you need: If you are struggling with connectivity at home or you’re missing your second monitor, consult with your manager. It might be possible to have some of your needs met when they compromise your productivity. This extends to your personal life. If you need help getting the kids to school, ask. You might be surprised at the support you have around you. If we don’t ask, no-one knows we need the help in the first place. Remember that to be successful, you do not have to be super woman.
  3. Create a dedicated workspace: When working and living in one space, work can spill over and feel all consuming. Work in one or more dedicated spaces to make it easier to maintain boundaries and focus. If you don’t have a separate room where you can close the door to minimise distractions, use earphones.
  4. Follow a routine: Get up at the same time, dress for work, keep to your meal schedule, work in your dedicated space and ‘leave work’ at the end of your workday (as much as possible). This will help you to create a sense of normality and prevent overwork and burnout. It can also help you to feel and be more in control during a time when so much is out of our control.
  5. Plan, prioritise and stick to your schedule: Instead of a vague plan, create a realistic daily schedule and put it in writing (digitally or with pen and paper). Place it where you can see it. Come up with a detailed to-do list that’s broken down into categories based on importance. Use a time-tracking app like RescueTime, to let you see whether you’re sticking to your schedule. It’ll also help you figure out what times of day you are most productive versus when you slack off. This can help you to reserve your most productive hours for your most important tasks.
  6. Communicate clearly and regularly: In an age of technology, working remotely does not have to mean working in isolation. Staying in contact is important for your benefit and others. Keep each other updated and figure out how to accommodate each other’s schedules, especially if you are home schooling while working. Communicate with your family (or support system at home too) so you can work around one another’s schedules as best as possible.
  7. Avoid online fatigue: As much as you need to keep regular contact with colleagues, don’t have too many meetings. Perhaps an email update, an instant message or a WhatsApp can suffice. For many reasons, online meetings are more tiring than face-to-face, so don’t rely on meetings alone to maintain connection.
  8. Allow for breaks: Taking breaks is important to keep you productive as it can prevent brain fog, backaches, headaches and muscle strain. Schedule breaks evenly throughout the day to ensure you are working at maximum capacity. Use some breaks to get fresh air because working from home, and limiting contact with others, can lead to lots of time indoors. This increases our chance of boredom and fatigue.Next week, I’ll share some Key Steps aimed specifically at managing children when working from home. In the meantime, let us know what Key Steps you will take this week to avoid maxing out and burning out so we can…
‘be the difference that makes the difference



NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’