On “Office Housework”

I really wish I’d read this or this before going to my last therapy session.

For the past month or so, I’ve been having trouble sleeping.  I’m someone who can sleep just about anywhere [except, rather inconveniently on planes — I think it’s something about the recycled air].  I am rarely troubled by insomnia.  But for a week in January, I was experiencing very fitful sleep.  I tried going to bed earlier and earlier but still found myself getting up later and later and being exhausted all day.  I would wince every time I heard a new notification on my phone until I was about as conditioned as a future serial killer’s pet.

So I programmed my phone and tablet to go silent when I entered the office [thank you, IFTTT].  I also set up my phone to be silent daily between 9pm and 6am to aid my sleep [thank you, Motorola Assist]. These steps may have helped a little but finally, after a week of very little sleep when I was practically in tears at work, I dragged myself to the gym for an hour in the evening and tired myself out so that my brain had no other option but to conk out for a full 8 hours. I awoke with my alarm at 6am the next day feeling so rested and refreshed that I immediately got out of bed and went to the gym for a pre-office workout.  Even more invigorated after that, I made a huge mistake, thinking I was capable of handling an emotionally demanding situation.

Duly therapized a couple days later, I began to recognize that demands on my time were taking a toll. And I’m also now beginning to realize some of it is my own fault.

Question: Where on a resume do you put how often your colleagues have asked you to read their work, help brainstorm ideas, or give them feedback in your downtime with no credit whatsoever? There’s no “Shit I Do Quietly That Proves I’m Respected and Capable But Can’t Really Back Up” section.

And it’s not just that women are viewed less favorably for the work they do. They are more likely to burn out doing it. Sandberg and Grant write that “Research shows that teams with greater helping behavior attain greater profits, sales, quality, effectiveness, revenue and customer satisfaction. But doing the heavy lifting can take a psychological toll.”

After reading that, I thought about what I had put on my self-evaluation for 2014 accomplishments [in addition to my day-to-day trading and research responsibilities and any ad hoc tasks that arise]:

Working more closely with legal and accounting on SEC filings;

Opening new trading accounts [moving cash and securities along with lots and basis to various accounts];

Putting Purchase plans into place — communicating directly with counterparties and both our and their legal counsel;

Not so bad so far…

Basic IT support for printers, phones, tablets, etc. when IT person unavailable;

MS Office suite point person — help colleagues with questions about Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook;

Maintaining websites: adding media, posting press releases;

Preparing skeleton PPT presentations so all analysts had to do was insert figures;

Since receptionist left, taking over ordering supplies for back kitchen;

Organizing Trading folders on shared drive;

Standardizing processes for wires, orders, allocations, etc.

And my 2015 goals?

Series 24 to learn more about compliance;

Catch up accounting on tracking each entities’ positions at various institutions;

Continue organization and standardization push to make documents/e-mails easier and faster to find and identify subject matter;

Suggest admins/analysts go to a PowerPoint training class so if I’m out, they can make changes.

For roughly 70% of my “accomplishments” and “goals,” if anyone asked me the reason for listing them, my reply would be “because it has to get done.”

TRUTH, Cordy.

As far as workplaces go, mine is probably more equal than some if not most, especially in finance.  My boss, possibly the greatest boss in the world, once retaliated at a broker who introduced me to said broker’s legal counsel as my boss’s assistant by getting on the phone with that same legal counsel and introducing himself as my assistant.

But I also cannot count the number of times I have been in the middle of something substantive when someone has called me in a panic with a question about tracking changes or formatting a header in Word, and I’m expected to drop everything to run to someone’s desk to click a few buttons.  I fell into the the roles of basic IT support and website maintenance because the regular IT person was often unresponsive and I knew it needed to get done regardless, so I would get it done.

The same person who asks me for research or to help draft a filing will tell me we’re running low on ginger tea or milk.  And I’ll rectify both because I’m a team player.

One of the funny things, at least where I work, is that while I identify very closely with the Sandberg/Grant piece, the females here who probably should be responsible for stocking the kitchens and organizing folders feel no compunction about doing it either because they are meant to or because it needs to get done.   Maybe we only feel the need to get things done and help out when they aren’t expressly our jobs?

I didn’t mention on my self-evaluation that I also often wipe down the counter after lunch and load and run the dishwasher at the end of each night.  Because if I don’t do it, the counter is sticky and I come in the next morning to slim pickings as far as bowls and utensils are concerned.  Plus, I can’t drink out of my favorite mug:

Indian Wonder Woman?

So, fine — sometimes I do it out of self-interest and not my inherent nurturing, communal nature.


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