Dealing With Uncertainty: Grown Ups Sometimes Need Schedules and Juiceboxes Too

If you’re like some of my students, you’re currently balancing being Teacher, Gym Teacher, and Lunch Lady in addition to being Architect, Project Manager, and Engineer.

And depending on your family situation, it’s possible you may be in the default role of ‘project manager’ of the household—which makes this time only harder. Women are much more likely than men to carry ‘the mental load.’

The mental load is the burden of being the one who doesn’t just do the work but delegates it. Who figures out what needs to be done. Who is the go-to parent for questions from kids. That makes it hard to get any focus time and push forward anything beyond emails and small tasks.

Over the last few weeks, you may have found that structure can help the kids. Even if they’re not in school, many parents have been creating schedules with outside time, snack time, art time, etc. for their kids.

Structure can help the adults too. If you have a partner that can share the load, I’ve been advising my coaching students to set up as-regular-as-possible schedules with their partners describing who will be on with kids (who’s the person to be interrupted at this time) and household needs, and who is the partner who will have focused work time in a block schedule.

While you may not have full control over your schedule on any given day (there may be that 7-person project management meeting that you can’t control) if you have ‘default’ blocks that you try to schedule into, it will be easier to share the load and get that focus time.

And a bonus—kids like structure but adults do too—whether or not you have kids of your own. We don’t realize how much the familiar nature of coming into the office and grabbing our cup of coffee helps us focus into the context of work—until we’ve got to do it in our living rooms amidst finger paints and yesterday’s laundry. But you can create a little of that structure for yourself. And a little bit can make a big difference.

Juiceboxes are optional, of course.

Hi I'm Maya

Mia Scharphie , career coach, headshot

I’m a career coach and strategist with a secret power (I mean, past career) as a designer. I love road trips, graphic novels and helping people like you design the career you love on your own terms.