As a single working mother, I am no stranger to getting shit done. And let’s face it--I’ve been through a lot over the years.
At 37 years old, I have more life experience than many folks who are a decade or two older than me because I have been through all sorts of hell.
Growing up in a dysfunctional and abusive family? Check. My sister got into drugs and theft and wound up in prison when I was 18. My best friend died when I was in grade school and my estranged father died in my mid-twenties.
I have worked in some capacity since I was 14 in a variety of industries including art, writing, retail, foodservice, and office settings. I’ve earned minimum wage, $12 to $18 an hour, and $350 to $500 a day.
Most of my life has been spent in poverty, however. I was raised on welfare. Got married at 20 and barely scraped by. Got divorced at 22 and scraped by on my own.
My crisis pregnancy knocked me down bigtime when I was 32. I couchsurfed and used food stamps and WIC until my daughter was about 18 months old. I turned down cash welfare because I didn’t want to feel stuck and today at 37 I am going to earn six figures for the first time in my life.
I’ve been in a religious cult and more than one abusive relationship. I’ve lost over 100 pounds twice and experienced pretty much every imaginable sort of failure.
Phew! I’ve lived a lot of life but I can’t help but notice that anytime I talk about what I’ve learned over the years about productivity, people apparently aren’t feeling it.
Other women I know are productivity mavens. Shaunta Grimes routinely amazes and inspires me with everything she’s accomplished as a writing mom, and you know what? We joke about how our work on business and productivity would have a much better shot at success if we were just a little more… well, male.
I have often wondered about this. Why are people so damn excited to gobble up work from men with no children, very little life experience, or wives who hold their whole household into place? More to the point, why are they so much more excited to read about productivity and business from men than from the women who’ve actually had to multitask and do the emotional labor for their entire families?
People often joke that behind every great man is a great woman. Obviously, not all of these men have wives or mothers pulling the strings, but plenty of them… do.
Plenty of these men have wives, mothers, sisters, or secretaries who make it their mission to see the guy succeed. Some of these productivity gurus don’t know how to balance life simply because they don’t have to. They don’t do their own laundry or dishes. They don’t even know what kind of energy goes into maintaining a household.
Some of these men will melt into a puddle of anxiety at Walmart just because they rarely ever have to do the shopping.
I know, I know. This doesn’t describe all men or all productivity experts. But it describes a lot of them and there really is a weird predisposition for folks to want to hear from men but tune out women.
And anytime I talk about money, I get somebody complaining how crass I am to ever write with money in mind. At the same time, my male counterparts get to tell their audience how to treat their time like it’s as valuable as can be.
It’s not as if I think men are doing a bad job with productivity. But I don’t think many of them are telling the full story.
And I continue to wonder how a culture that puts so much invisible labor upon women can simultaneously overlook our legit skills in matters of productivity and business.
Perhaps it’s all in the delivery. Most women I know aren’t gonna whisper sweet nothings in your ear about magic formulas to successful living. Most of us are going to tell you that hey buddy, it’s hard. You’re gonna have to do a lot of crap that you don’t want to do and you’ll probably lose a lot of sleep too.
Of course, if you want to know how to be productive by only working an hour a day, maybe you do want to take your cues from a dude with virtually no responsibility aside from his own personal dreams.
After all, what do I know?