NOTE: If you have ovaries or love someone who has ovaries, this post is for you.
I follow The Holderness Family on Facebook. They are the “Christmas Jammies” people who have expanded their enterprise into parenting, self-care, and pickleball.
During the pandemic, their videos made me feel laugh and feel connected to the world at the same time. They are brilliant.
As a 49-year-old woman, I was especially interested in their recent podcast, The Silver Linings of Perimenopause featuring Dr. Kourtney Sims, M.D.
You should (really, really should) give this episode a listen.
Here are some of the things I learned:
- Menopause is a single day. It is the one-year anniversary since your last period. Everything before that day is perimenopause. Every day afterwards is post-menopause.
- Perimenopause helps morph a woman’s superpowers from nurturing others into self-actualization. How about that for an origin story?
- The physiological and psychological changes can be managed rather than simply endured.
One of the psychological changes some women experience is brain fog. Compared to their baseline levels, some women in their 40s and 50s experience a slight decline in memory and ability to concentrate.
I thought I was showing symptoms of early onset dementia. I struggle for words and was gearing up to tell my beloved that I would likely forget his name soon.
I know…funny but not funny. Forgive me for the bad joke. I have brain fog sometimes.
Ovaries or not, perimenopause or not, for years I have told clients the following…
You are fired from the job of remembering stuff.
Memory is a faulty task management system. Logically, we all know this, but we behave as if it isn’t true.
We are working against ourselves when we do (and say) things such as:
- Neglect to note an action item. “I can remember to do that.”
- Operate day-to-day with no task list. “I don’t have time to make a list.”
- Attempt to manage multiple task lists. “I’ll just write this on whatever is handy.”
- Ask other people to remind us. “Hey, can you help me remember to…”
- Let email dictate our actions. “My task list is my email inbox.”
In my seminar, Get your Tasks Together…you are fired from the job of remembering stuff (catchy title, huh?), I ask participants to do the following:
- Choose one centralized list of action items
- Inventory ~80% of your tasks there
- Redeploy your mental bandwidth
By the end of the seminar, they possess the tactical knowledge to operationalize these three objectives.
Other than “don’t rely on your brain,” the most frequently dispensed bit of productivity advice I have is to show compassion and love.
Berating yourself is unproductive and leads to procrastination and perfectionism. I say this to you as a recovering perfectionist.
Shameless plug: check out my online course, Unwrapping Perfectionism.
Whether your brain fog is caused by hormones, stress, illness, fatigue, or any of the other buffet of issues that affect cognition, self-flagellation is not the solution.
Stop trying to remember stuff. You suck at it.
Delegate the task of remembering tasks to your centralized list.
Do the things: sleep well, eat well, stay active, and so on.
And, most importantly, be kind.
Be kind to yourself.
Be kind to the foggy people you care about.
Just be kind.
Is perfectionism your productivity barrier?
Check out my online course, Unwrapping Perfectionism.
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.