If you are anything like me they are.
Over the years, I observed that the stage of my monthly cycle directly affects my productivity.
The frustrating thing is that it feels like yet another thing I have to deal with, impacting my chances of success in business. This is mostly because our work system is set up without accounting for women and their menstrual cycles.
It feels like a weakness and I’m sure it is judged as one by men and many women. I admit I’m even a little embarrassed as I write this because it feels like an excuse for lower productivity and yet month after month (even when I tell myself it’s going to be different this month) I behave the same way in each stage of my cycle, and it goes something like this…
About 15 days before my period (my ovulation phase) I am focused, motivated, productive and feeling high creative energy, this is when I get s*** done! This is also the time I’m convinced that this month will be different and I will remain productive.
3 – 5 days before I actually bleed I get ravenous and eat pretty much everything I can find in the house, so there go any weight loss goals for that month!! This is the indicator that if I have any outstanding work tasks, I better get them done because I feel myself slowing down (my luteal phase) and I know fuzzy hormone brain is just around the corner.
My period begins (menstruation phase) and productivity either gradually declines over a few days or depending on the month I’m having, it crashes and burns instantly for at least 7 days and all I want to do is eat chocolate and watch Netflix.
During this fun phase of my cycle workouts feel harder, my thoughts become untrustworthy traitors that should not be in charge of big (or small) business decisions and if I’m completely honest I simply stop feeling motivated or become overwhelmed and feel like quitting my job – which is a problem when you work for yourself!
After my period has run its course I begin the long slow climb (follicular phase) to thinking straight, believing I can accomplish anything again and producing incredible content, making great business decisions (or simply making decisions and feeling confident about them) and becoming the queen of my business and life again – the woman I like and know myself to be.
And yet I am also the bleeding hormonal sloth once a month and I need to embrace the fact that my menstrual cycle is going to have an impact on my productivity and be kind to that woman and rest, knowing that she will rise again!
Work with it rather than rage against It.
I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I am a female, trying to accomplish things that may be set to a masculine bar that I can not compete with and neither should I want to.
Because I’m a woman, I have hormonal cycles that I can’t ignore and if I want to be happy and feel productive I need to work with those cycles rather than resent and complain about the fact that I can’t control the nature of my sex.
So I embrace it!
I plan productivity around my menstrual cycle and I work with it rather than rage against it.
Here are some of the things I do to ensure I’m productive when the time is right according to my natural menstrual cycle.
1. I track my cycle and I plan around it.
I know when I’m going to be in my ovulation phase and become most motivated to create, produce, be clear minded and focused and I plan for it. During this time I often shock myself with my own awesomeness and productivity! I set goals that I actually achieve.
I instinctively know my cycle now however you can use Apps Like Clue, Flo and Maya to help you keep track.
2. I rest and forgive myself for not being as focused and motivated during my menstrual phase (when I bleed).
Trying to do not get frustrated with myself and I don’t try to “push through” Because that just means I’m exhausted and unmotivated or overwhelmed for longer.
I still work, it’s unrealistic for me to completely stop and I’m assuming it’s the same for you. Just pick easier tasks and use the time to daydream (some of my best business ideas have come from daydreaming), I eat well, move slow but still move and I sleep properly (or try to).
3. I avoid making important decisions or taking important meetings when I’m in the rest (menstrual) phase of my cycle.
I learned that the hard way after attending a meeting where we were negotiating a 4 million dollar business buyout. My monthly menstrual friend decided to visit the evening before and my fuzzy hormone brain was on the rampage. I found it so hard to focus and answer questions that it was mortifying.
Bright side? This is when I first started paying attention to my cycles and how they affect my work life. Talk about rude awakening.
4. I no longer rage against my body.
I go with the flow (pun intended) and low and behold I get more accomplished over time. Than I ever do when I try to deny the cycle of life.
We are conditioned to believe we need to hustle and be as productive as possible, all the time. There’s no rest for the wicked, right? Wrong. For women it literally goes against what nature intended. Yes there are periods of high performance. But there are also necessary periods of rest and rejuvenation. We should not feel guilty for them, we just need to plan.
Does nature feel guilty for winter?
It’s interesting that the constant hustle mentality goes against the very fundamentals of nature. Think of the seasons. Spring is a growth phase, whilst winter is a time of rest and regeneration.
Just like the seasons, we experience four monthly menstrual phases (only shorter!). Working with them, rather than denying or attempting to control them with harsh drugs, benefits us and women everywhere.
Did you know there are 4 phases to your monthly (approx 28 day) cycle?
The sooner you know them the sooner you can plan around them.
- Menstruation phase
- Follicular phase
- Ovulation phase
- Luteal phase
Now, I could go into detail about each phase. However I’d rather point you to this fabulous Healthline Article that has charts, descriptions, timelines and more. It’ll help you to start planning around your period for greater productivity and overall work life wellbeing.
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Marnie LeFevre is the Founder of Fempire. She is also a #1 bestselling author and marketing expert who has made it her mission to support women to achieve the success they deserve and to lead with confidence. She believes women can achieve anything with the right support and a sisterhood to back them up.