Fierce Project Management

I was asked if I was a stay at home mum today.

Erm yes I suppose I am. Particularly as we’ve been in lockdown without any external support – I’ve been staying at home and I am a mum

I also have a business I’m running at the same time. I blooming hate the word mumpreneur though!

This is nothing against those who are stay at home mums, that is bloody hard job in my book, or those that are happily mumpreneurs. But personally that’s not what I choose. Though I suppose technically I am.

Work is a big part of my identity, and always has been. I’m ambitious.

I’m a mum and now that’s a big part of my identity and I do talk about my toddler alot. One of those mums! Ha. But its pretty all-consuming being a mum.

Being a mum, yeah it is pretty ace but also the fucking hardest job ever.

And oh housework and cooking – I feel like I am just not designed to ‘keep’ a house. I feel quite overwhelmed trying to do it all, cook, clean, tidy after a toddler – even to a bare minimum standard! I can enjoy parts of it at times with a podcast playing its pretty chill but the ‘space’ for that I struggle to find mostly. I’m probably on social media too much right?!

So I got a cleaner earlier this year for the first time. I have grown up with my mum doing it all and so has my husband (though he did help out at home) so it was actually a big decision outside our norm to get external help in. Ah it was the best thing ever. It wasn’t the magic bullet and I still wasn’t on top of things but it helped loads.

I also got a tonne of help from my mum and mum in law too! So much. From childcare to when they pop over they’ll start doing the dishes or something. And they would cook for us often too!

Lockdown has been particularly hard because all that *evaporated* along with nursery.

My husband was home more. He did do alot more, especially with our toddler. It was really hard at the beginning but their relationship has got much stronger. Over time, I could work more too. And I accepted times I had to work less. The house stuff we’ve muddled on. We’ve also argued along the way.

Some of that external help is coming back now and I’ve recently got some support in my business to take the pressure off 😅

But I’m still tired and behind and overwhelmed.

I recently read an article by Denise Duffield-Thomas (a successful entrepreneur and mum) – she shared she has a team of women who support her from cleaning, childminding to housekeeping so she is freed up to work on her business but also spend quality time with her kids, and ditch the mental load of keeping a house.

This sounds like the dream to me!

But til that dream is realised it’s hard, and it’s been harder in lockdown and it’s not done yet just because lockdown is easing!

For me personally, it actually means my husband is working out of the home more so that means another phase to adjust to. We’re also planning to get my three year-old back into nursery part time and potentially get some grandparents support again- but the risk balance is still a worry and it’s hard to know what to do for the best

Saying all of this, I know my lockdown story has been a bazillion times easier than other women because I have my own business where I have flexibility, and because my husband was often home and not working, and because I actually like being home (sometimes too much and it makes me a recluse).

A big part of my lockdown story has been showing up and being connected with other actual real life adult humans in my communities – the Fierce Project Management Tribe and I even created the Fierce Project Management Movement, our membership community, fuelled to create connection amidst the de-connection of the social distancing. It’s my superpower to hold safe spaces where we can have the real fierce talk and genuinely connect. I do much better holding space for those conversations then I do the housework- but the reality is THIS is also the fierce talk that needs to happen, because I’m not alone in this struggle. And I know so many have it harder right now.

It’s not just my story, one of the biggest challenges for gender equality especially in lockdown and post lockdown has been that the outsourcing of childcare and domestic responsibility suddenly evaporated. That’s led to more mental health challenges . It’s also led to women being sidelined, choosing to leave or reduce their work, or somehow struggling to do it all. It’s not the only root-cause to the backwards steps of gender inequality happening but its a big one.

This blog to say you are not alone. It’s fucking hard. You are amazing.

Fiercely Understanding our Menstural Cycle for Business and Project Success

The amazing guest expert Michelle Graham shared with Fierce Project Managers how we can better understand our menstrural cycle better and use this knowledge to improve our lives, including how we work!

Michelle, was a guest expert in the Fierce Project Management Movement and gave a brilliant explanation about how during our monthly cycle our energies ebbs and flow from the more masculine – where we tend to be more action-focused and comfortable with visibility – after we bleed, to the more feminine energies – where are more reserved and, creative – after we ovulate. Recognising that this will show up for each female differently.

Being fierce and authentic at work is embracing these two sides of ourselves – to be showing up and amplifying our message in a way that works for us, and to be vulnerable and open

Understanding how our energies ebb and flow, and how that may suit differing activities during our menstural cycle was eyeopening. This made so much sense yet it is not something we are generally taught or that we discuss.

Talking about periods and our menstural cycle beyond when we bleed, and when relevant are fertile, are about as far as it goes and generally these aren’t conversations we bring into work! Let alone how we plan our work.

And yet if we did have that understanding it would be a gamechanger – where possible we could plan our activities to ideally be at a match with our engeries, working with our menstural cycles rather than against them! So we could plan that highstakes client facing meeting or writing a report solo at the best times for us.

Being a project manager we won’t necessarily have all that freedom to plan our projects and workload iin the most ideal way for us – project deadlines, and stakeholders certainly wouldn’t always allow for that! Yet that awareness of when you are working against your ideal energies means you can make the provision to give yourself the appropriate self-care so you still thrive.

Having this understanding of ourselves, shows that we aren’t designed to always be “on on on” and that allowing for the ebbs and flows is important so we don’t burn ourselves out. That doesn’t mean we are less capable, motivated or effective at the job but allowing for our natural cycles where possible will allow us to flourish, thrive and be even more productive whilst maintaining our self-care.

Yet work, project work, is often designed with a male-centric lense, which doesn’t cater to the best work flows for us to flow! But what if, where possible, it did?! Not at the expense of project delivery but in order to be even more effective.

Having these conversations of when we are at our best may feel vulnerable and showing weakness but it is in our ebbs and flows that we actually find our different superpowers. Having these conversations with other women and people that mensturate, and where we’re able to with other allies would be hugely powerful to understand the ways in which we do our best work!

We first track our cycles and understand how the cyclical nature impacts us. A top tip from Michelle was to use a meaningful expressive word to describe each day, and over time spot patterns. For those women, who don’t have a cycle or a regular, such as peri- or post- menopause, she suggests using the cycles of the moon as a guide.

Michelle goes into this much deeper in our Masterclass, available exclusively for Fierce Project Management Movement Members.

Note: This article recognises that not all women bleed, and that transmen, non-binary and intersex people can have menstural cycles too. If you want to learn more about that check out this article.

You can follow Michelle and her work on Facebook and Instagram

What Fierce Project Managers said:

Such an amazing session, really insightful. Only once I started being a bit more conscious about how my cycle was impacting my productivity, my relationship and my own mental health did I realise what an impact it had. Michelle provided the explaination and science behind the why that has been missing. Such a great session!

I enjoyed this too. Really thought provoking. I am keeping a manual note of mood, achievements etc to see if their are patterns. As I am post menopausal, I will be interested to see if the moon does impact my emotions etc. Of course so many other things do, too, so it is going to be hard to identify true root causes, but interesting all the same. Another thing I wish I had understood years ago… ah well, better, later than never!

Super – loved watching this, thank you!!! Got myself a tracker last month and hoping to start seeing if there are any patterns moving forward that I can be more aware of

thank you for arranging this masterclass it was so interesting. I’m loving lockdown is giving me the opportunity and access to learn new things and bring more self-awareness. I will be keeping track of my mood to understand my phases and my transition points between masculine and feminine sectors

A Critical Conversation: Flexible Working – How to do it & How not to

Association for Project Management Women in Project Management SIG, in partnership with Fierce Project Management, Growth through Knowledge, University of Kent and Fastly held their first critical conversation event titled: Flexible Working, How to do it & How not to – for International Women’s Day 2020.

The event took place remotely to provide control for Coronavirus concerns, and is available to watch back below.

The Panel explores:
* How remote and flexible workking can work in practise, and the impact of the coronavirus as more people move to this way of working
* The challenges that can still exist when finding project work that is flexible
* Different experiences and examples of flexible working within project management
* Take away tips on how to make flexible working work for you and your projects

We missed the first few minutes on the recording which were introductions, and exploring how different companies were approaching remote working particularly in light of the coronavirus concerns.

About our Speakers:

Annie Maingard, University of Kent – I have worked in both academia and private industry and used the option to work flexibly in both. This has been around family caring requirements and also to allow for travel to and from work. I am now part time and have changed my arrangements several times to allow for work life balance. I am passionate about inclusivity within project management and academia, and work to share this encouragement into the industry.

Julien Maingard, Fastly – I work for Fastly, a US Bay-area Technology company and have done for 5 years since my eldest child was 6 months old. Introducing a long commute into a work/life balance made for a very big challenge and over the years I have increased my remote working to account for this. Looking back I wish I had pushed harder for more flexibility earlier on. I am now in a leadership position and I am reflecting this philosophy as much as I can towards the people joining my team today and would encourage everyone to accept the ideals of a “goal oriented work environment.”

Anita Phagura, Fierce Project Management – I have worked flexibly as a project manager for several years, instigated to create the allusive ‘work-life balance’ after experiencing a period of burnout and then later with different wants and needs after becoming a mum. This has ranged from compressed hours working, part time working and undertaking a job share – and I believe this has made me a more effective project manager. Through Fierce Project Management, I champion inclusivity within project management through working 121, in group programmes and with project businesses to empower women and underrepresented groups.

Nicole Reilly, Can Market – Nicole Reilly is the Principal Consultant for Growth Through Knowledge, and a director at CanMarket. She spent 12 years working with senior leaders, developing management information and business intelligence aimed at facilitating informed decision-making by both internal and external parties. Her wide-ranging business expertise was gained through alignment with sales, marketing, HR & finance functions – across Media & Publishing, Distribution & Logistics, Manufacturing and Financial Services industries. More recently, Nicole has focused on IT & business change-related consultancy, and was one of the first in Europe to achieve the IPMO-E certification with AIPMO.

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