Celebrating International Women’s Month! Can Women Really Do It All? By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP

laura-stack4March is International Women’s Month. This month-long event celebrates the vital role that women play in their family, their workplace, and the economic and political arenas of the countries in which they live.

As the roles of women continue to expand, women are often guilty of trying to “do it all,” sometimes at the expense of both their personal and professional lives. Productivity expert, Laura Stack has examined this question in detail, asking “Is There Enough Time to Do It ALL?”

Let’s explore further the question on whether a shortage of time is a valid reason for not “getting it all done.” In your estimation, in percentages, what proportion of your waking hours do you invest in work? This would include time you spent commuting, time you spent working in the evenings, and extra hours on the weekend. (Stop and think of an answer to that hypothetical question before you move on.)

If you are like most people, I would guess that you estimated between 60% and 70% of your waking hours are spent working each week. Yet, when I do some arithmetic, I usually find a number much closer to 50%:

Step 1: Take the total available hours in the day:
24 hours x 7 days = 168 hours

Step 2: Calculate your WAKING hours:

Average sleep:
7 hours x 7 days = 49 hours

Total waking hours:
168 hours minus 49 hours = 119 hours (100% of time awake)

Step 3: Calculate your WORKING hours:

Average time at the office: 9 hours x 5 days = 45 hours
Average time commuting: 2 hours x 5 days = 10 hours
Average work time during weekends = 4 hours
Total work time = 59 hours (49.57% of time awake or roughly 50%)

This figure would be even lower if I included in my calculations vacation time and holidays. I believe it just FEELS much higher because of the negative effects of stress from the workplace. In other words, explaining low productivity in terms of lack of time just doesn’t hold water.

So if the problem, by definition, is not a shortage of time, what’s the problem? Well, it’s not time management, because you can’t manage time. You don’t manage five minutes and end up with six. You don’t manage information overload—otherwise you’d walk into a library and die, or the first time you connected to the Web, you’d blow up. You don’t even manage priorities—you have them.

There are only 3 things that you can manage:

1.    Your Physical Self—the physiological effects of productivity
2.    Your Mind—the psychological effects of productivity
3.    Your Actions—the behavioral effects of productivity

Can women really “do it all?” On paper, it seems like women (and men!) have plenty of time. But life has a way of intervening in even the most carefully-planned lives, undermining our most well-intentioned efforts.

© 2009 Laura Stack.  Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time®.  She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations.  Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces.  She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004).  Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M.  To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401.  Visit www.TheProductivityPro.com to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.

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