Once upon a time, I stumbled across an essay about “the invisible workload of women.” I’d never heard this phrase before—but it perfectly summed up a feeling I’d had for years, but couldn’t put into words.
What is the invisible workload?
It’s all the extra work that women put on their shoulders to make sure the household runs smoothly and other people are safe, nurtured, and comfortable.
Often, we take on this additional workload unconsciously—automatically—without even realizing we’re doing it. We just quietly do it. Because if not, who else will?
The invisible workload is comprised of so many things.
– It’s being the one person in the household who remembers to buy toilet paper when it’s running low.
– It’s being the gatekeeper of all household information (“Mom, where do we keep the vacuum cleaner?” “Mom, do we have any crunchy peanut butter, or just creamy?” “Where’s the extra set of car keys?”).
– It’s being the one who keeps track of birthdays, doctor’s appointments, and all the other little logistical details of life.
– It’s all the mental energy that you expend every day to keep your family fed, clothed, housed, organized, and functioning.
Many women have not one, not two, but three full-time jobs: raising kids, having a career outside the home, and then handling the invisible workload. No wonder so many women are fucking exhausted!
I had an invisible workload meltdown recently.
While filming the Bare documentary in LA—literally, right in the middle of filming, trying to rehearse my script, get in the zone, and stay 100% focused—my phone kept ringing. Unknown number. After the 3rd try, I figured it might be important and I answered it.
It was Doordash—a food delivery service.
“I’m standing outside your door with your food.”
Gaaaaahhhh. I instantly regretted answering.
Long story short—there was a mix-up with the delivery address. My son Ryan had used Doordash to deliver to his apartment. Then when my husband Scott went to order his dinner later that same day, he didn’t notice that the address was not our home.
So here stands the poor delivery guy at the wrong door.
I took the time to explain what happened, gave him the correct address, and went back to the shoot.
He called again.
“I’m at your home address now and no one is answering the door.”
I said, “You know what, put the Mexican dinner on the doorstep and walk away.”
And then I called Scott. No answer.
Later when I spoke to my darling beloved husband, he said, “I didn’t even hear the doorbell ring.”
That’s when my videographer leaned over to me and whispered, “The invisible workload of women.”
It’s wild, am I right?
You can be in the midst of producing a documentary film…or five minutes away from stepping onstage to meet Oprah…or deliver a keynote speech…or prepping to address the U.S. Senate…and then you’re pulled away to deal with two grown-ass men who can’t figure out how to successfully order take-out food. Unreal.
Women: to reduce the invisible workload, we have many options.
1. Become aware of the moments when you go on auto-pilot and take on the extra work. Stop doing this.
2. Assign the extra work to your partner and kids. They should be doing just as much invisible labor as you do. Delegate. (Hire household help if you can afford it, too.)
3. Make these phrases part of your daily vocabulary:
“You can handle this.”
“You can figure that out on your own.”
“My phone will be on silent while I’m working.”
“Please don’t interrupt me unless it’s a life-or-death emergency.”
“I trust you to make the right decision. You don’t need to consult me.”
“There’s a list of important household info and phone numbers on the fridge. Please read that instead of interrupting me while I’m working.”
4. If you feel compelled to ask a woman for help, stop, and then ask a man instead. Interrupt him with a tedious question or menial task. Hahaaa. Women have been handling this sh*t for too many centuries. It’s his turn.
5. Be patient with yourself. If you’re female, most likely, you have a deeply-ingrained tendency to drop everything, ignore your own needs, and put other people first. It takes time to wean yourself off this habit. I’m still working on it. (Clearly). But it gets easier.
The more you lessen the weight of the invisible workload, the better you feel.
You’ll have more energy. More time for yourself and your goals. More capacity to focus on things that really matter—like growing your business, increasing your income, building your legacy, and making history.
And that Mexican food? Honestly? Not your problem. He can eat cold tacos tonight and he will absolutely survive.
What’s one way you could reduce your invisible workload this week?
PS. Join BARE DAILY and surround yourself with a community of like-minded women all making a scene and standing up to the invisible workload.
Shift your patterns. Build new habits. Gain tons of energy. Boost your mental and physical health. Put a beautiful self-care plan into place, and do it consistently. Glow from the inside out. All that and more—for a very reasonable monthly membership fee. Treat yourself to a BARE DAILY membership and feel the rewards, every day. Enrollment closes tonight!
PPS. If any men are reading this…before you come at me whining and insisting, “But we have an invisible workload too!”…yes, of course you do! Men absolutely do household chores and errands and emotional/mental/logistical work, too. (Thank you. Keep it up. And do more.)
Yes, men help out. And some men help out—a lot. However. Studies confirm that women do significantly more household work than men. Yup, even today. 60% more. Some researchers call this “the household work gender gap.”
In one study of 8,500 heterosexual couples, researchers found that women do the vast majority of invisible work—even when both partners have a full time career. And even when she is the primary breadwinner! Even when she’s bringing home the bacon—she’s still the one cooking the bacon (and cleaning up afterward, too). “Women did the bulk of the domestic duties in 93 per cent of the couples analyzed for the study.”