Business time management and living in patriarchy as a female business owner.
This year's women's month was very special for me. I feel like I have learned more about womanhood than ever before, thanks to a lot of conversations, a must read book and enlightening podcasts.
It all started with international women's day and my period kicking in hard at the same time. Waking up at 4 am because my pain was so bad. Then a couple of hours of trying to fall back asleep and raging about the fact that women go through this every month and yet there is no menstrual leave payed by the government. I then decided to take a couple of days off, and I read a book called Period Power by Maisie Hill, which CHANGED MY WORLD. I am not kidding.
Maisie explains in her book how the female cycle works and what each hormone is for, where it comes from and what it does to your energy levels, mood, focus and pleasures. She compares your cycle to the four seasons, and what each of their strengths are. There is a similar way of thinking for people without a menstrual cycle called Moon Cycle. I haven't read a book this fast in years, I just couldn't stop, mainly because I felt like everything I read was so so important and I couldn't actually believe that I wasn't taught any of this in school. I am not going to get more into this because I really think if you haven't yet you should read the book or listen to it.
TIME MANAGMENT IN PATRIARCHY
My menstruation isn't actually always that bad, sometimes I barely have any cramps, and then other times it is the worst. But almost always I have to take at least one ibuprofen to get me through the day, every time I am spending my day wishing to be in bed already, wishing for it to be over. I never truly understood my moods, my energy levels, my body really. I have been spending years trying to develop a healthy or shall I say balanced routine. My examples were my time in school, general advice on time management and I probably the media, general knowledge somehow. So I would try and build weekly habits, like for example going for a swim twice a week, working on a admin/ecommerce one day a week, marketing one day a week, then production and product development two days a week and one day for workshops. But I never managed to stick to any of this for more than two weeks, sometimes because as soon as my period arrived my plans got mixed up, or I was just not in the mood for doing admin, or e-commerce or sewing.
Then there was a lot of wishful planning when I was full of energy, social and happy I would plan to start making videos of myself talking on social media every few days. But then as soon as the week before my period and period phase kicked in I was just reaaaally not up for it. My inner critical voice would often disturb my work, and lead me down weird thought paths and making the whole starting your own business a hard nut to crack. I am a very organised person, I like planning my weeks, but I also like listening to my body and now Maisie Hill has finally given me an understanding of my own body and why my energy, focus and mood isn't a stable stream that can just simple be pushed into weekly tasks.
FOLLOWING MY OWN RYTHM
After I read the book I immediately started organising my business (and life) tasks differently:
Winter (on your period, time to reflect): I am reviewing my month, sales, workshops, my strategies, and just simply give myself a lot of time to relax, let your thoughts flow, and see where you are at, what is really important to you. So this I when I start writing blog posts, first drafts.
Spring (explore, experiment): Product prototyping phase, let all the ideas out and write them down, create samples. Let it flow and start organising meetings for the next week.
Summer (socialising, get out there): The time to be out there, show yourself on social media, talk, meet up with colleagues, go on podcasts, podium discussions, markets, meet to collaborators, funders, ect. Take product pictures on yourself or your models. You have the energy to do a few extra hours.
Autumn (all about the details): ADMIN, bookkeeping, updating the website, set up keywords, tag managers, finalising products, just all the high concentration stuff that needs your full attention. Finish projects, so you have the time to relax in your winter.
I have been working with this for the past month, I have just completed one cycle and I have never been this happy doing my work. I felt so relieved knowing that I am really working my strengths at the right time. Of course you can't always follow your mood, but generally my life has improved so much, because I finally know how to plan and manage my month!
When you are an entrepreneur you really need to know yourself as your work will define the business you are building, you are the heart of your business. If you want create a sustainable business your work life should be sustainable too.
The sad thing now is that until this month I had never heard about this anywhere. Even-though I have actively researched entrepreneurship and time management, followed many interesting and successful business women. I did a creative business accelerator programme and had a business coach for six months. They all advised me on time management but now looking back all this advice seems to yet again proof of the extremely male centric world we live in. A world of business that is made by and made for men, we live in a world, in which women take the pill, to lose all touch with their own body rhythm, and to be able to function more like men. Powerful women seem to fully embody male work ethics and don't ever show weakness and never talk about periods. They follow the male business rhetoric, because they had to. To achieve their goals, to not be treated even more differently.
Even feminists seem to want to forget about the menstrual cycle sometimes:
Menstrual leave isn’t a new concept: Russia first introduced it in the 19th century, and India and Japan introduced their own versions in the 20th century. Due to the stigma around period, inequality in the workplace, weird methods of proofing your period pain and many other reasons this didn’t seem make a difference for women in the workplace, it admitting to vulnerability turned out to be more a disadvantage. In today’s discussions around menstrual leave the fear of it all being done badly and it all fostering more inequality is dividing feminists around the world.
After my period I always completely forget about all these thoughts. Before now I never particularly planed in my period in my work schedule, I think it is because we internalised the male working behaviour.
There are companies completely made up of female staff and they don't acknowledge their periods either.
I wouldn’t even call in sick, or stay at home from school because I always thought it’s too embarrassing to admit I have my period. I didn't want anyone at work to know that I have my period.
Our whole month at work affects our period, more stress results immediately in more period pain. Less exercise, worse food, more pain. We have paid sick days. Why don’t we have paid period days?
Let’s face it women aren’t men and we will never be, to be truly equal our society we have to completely acknowledge and validate a woman’s experience of life.
Because a men‘s experience of life is validated and our society internalised it.
We shouldn’t have to work on a period day, I am standing behind campaigns proposing 12 days a year of menstrual leave. And the companies hiring menstruating people shouldn’t pay for that, because otherwise they will naturally prioritise men for these jobs. The government should pay, they could just invent some money for the sake of equality. (EPISODE #63 BREAKING THE AUSTERITY MYTH: THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN – BUT WE CAN MEND IT - https://accidentalgods.life/breaking-the-austerity-myth-the-system-is-broken-but-we-can-mend-it/)
There are companies like Coexist that took matters in their own hands and worked out their own period policies. But again I don’t think company policies will actually change things for the better. I am my own boss, I have my own company, so yeah I can make my own schedule. But I always felt like I couldn't afford to take the day off and certainly not PLAN the day off. It would have had to be an on the day decision, because pain was insufferable, because painkillers weren't enough. Reflecting on my work on a period day compared to how much it took out of me to get through the day, is it really worth it going to work? Even without any pain, I still struggle to focus massively - hallo natural painkillers the make you high. Then afterwards having taken the day off or just having had a not really productive day I always felt like I had to make up for it, because others mostly men don’t have this in their schedule at all. We shouldn’t have to make up for literally the most natural thing on earth.
As a female entrepreneur I want to change this: we need to define a female vision of work life, and normalise our cycle, normalise taking time off for your period. Just imagine women had invented the business world, I am very sure it would include the menstrual cycle. This is why I believe menstrual leave done right could really change our world for the better and help creating an actually equal society.
I am starting small, just adjusting my own work life to my cycle, and adding "honouring everyones menstrual cycle" to Trashion Factory's core values. Just the beginning... follow my journey to hear about how I get on by signing up to my newsletter.
LET'S HARNESS THE TRUE POWER OF FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP