Does the Most Popular Productivity Advice Apply to Women?

I was listening to the latest Deep Thoughts episode in which Cal goes through a short background of (current) perspectives on productiveness, and then Scott Younger joins him to examine the subject.

And I just began contemplating about the productiveness leaders he talked over: Stephen Covey. David Allen. Merlin Mann. Tim Ferriss. Leo Babauta. Greg McKeown. There was a temporary point out of Jenny Odell’s impact and the backlash against capitalism-pushed productivity, but for the most element?

Does the Most Popular Productivity Advice Apply to Women
I have browse this 3x and would thoroughly go for #4

It was movement right after movement — all with broad sweeping thoughts about how to fundamentally DO Daily life< and all dominated by men. I don’t think Cal is wrong — these really have been the top voices dominating these conversations.

To be clear, I respect many of these productivity-focused thought leaders, I really do!! I have read Getting Things Done at least three times and used to pore over everything Leo Babauta put out. I loved getting to interview Greg McKeown on BLP! I listen to Tim’s podcast frequently and almost never miss a Deep Questions episode – I think these people have a lot to contribute.


Sometimes it just feels like something is missing. Like a core part of what shapes my day and perhaps even provides limits to my actual productivity IRL is just . . . not in the conversations I hear about or books I read.

I’m trying to dissect the things that make productivity different (generally more challenging) for many women (and mothers especially). Disclaimer: this is an INCOMPLETE list and a total draft, and it is also a generalization – I know there are women out there that might feel entirely included in the aforementioned literature/conversations. But I also suspect I am not the only one who feels a little bit left out. There was one mention in the podcast about a “6 hour time block to write.” I could be wrong, but suspect there are very few women that regularly get anything close to this.

Things women face that might make male-perspective productivity advice feel lacking:

“Effortless perfection” pressures. I feel like women are not supposed to appear to be trying as hard. It’s not seen as feminine to push and strive. (The whole “soft” movement – where are the soft dudes? PS, I personally reject soft.)

Physical burden of childbearing. No, pregnancy (in most cases) is not a disability. But pregnancy and lactation are still hard for many (myself included) and often come at a pivotal moment in career-building. Choices made during these years sometimes have effects that reverberate for decades.

Societal expectations. Many women are assumed to be the primary child caregiver and household manager, and judged more harshly for anything negative that might happen within that sphere. Thus, there are a lot of balls many women feel pressured to keep spinning perfectly (and preferably without breaking a sweat, see #1 above)

RELATED: 100x more likely to get interrupted, and judged 100x more when we try to create silos of un-interruptibility. (These are . . . unscientific estimates.)

Less likely to have a partner who is serving a traditional “wife” type role. OF COURSE there are exceptions!! But on average, this is probably true. I also think a high proportion of these very successful productivity experts seem to have some degree of this.

Hormonal swings. I personally find myself to be a more naturally productive (also: possibly nicer) person during my follicular phase. PMS sucks. Periods are annoying. I guess this does eventually come to an end but I’m not sure perimenopause/menopause is a picnic either.

Burden of expectations to appear physically a certain way. It takes time, energy, and mental labor to look “decent” in our society’s eyes (at least for me and I’m not sure I’m even hitting that bar many days!). And I’m pretty sure these expectations become even more frustrating and time consuming with age.

I’m sure there are many many more. What am I missing?

Huge shout out to women out there writing productivity/time management books that DO feel more relevant, from Laura to Tiffany Dufu to Lisa Woodruff, and many more.

Interested in your thoughts on this, and oh! Share your favorite voice on productivity below, if not already mentioned.

In the Weeds

Sarah Hart-Unger

mother of 3 // MD // south floridian // ESFJ // upholder. &#13
into: planners, great food, running, reading, writing, mornings, podcasting, and coffee.

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