In Career, Discussions

Stop doing female-oriented busywork at the office

Nothing drives me crazier than seeing women take on emotional labour and tasks at the office, and getting confused why no one seems to credit them or appreciate them for it.

Let’s be clear about why.


Organizing any of the following:

  • Company lunches/dinners
  • Employee goodbyes
  • Employee orientation – if it isn’t officially your job
  • Charity Drives/Runs/Events
  • Team/Potluck Breakfasts
  • Collections for … whatever
  • Washing the dishes/cups or loading the dishwasher
  • Baking/cooking for the team or for team-events
  • Taking notes at meetings

…are all thankless female-driven & female-laden office busy work that does NOTHING for your career.

It doesn’t make you more money, it doesn’t count towards your bonus, and you can stop all of that because NO ONE CARES.


A great way to head them off if they ask you to do any of this is to say:

Sure, and if I spend time doing this, what other work task should I put on hold?

You need to be clear that if you spend time baking cupcakes for a company breakfast tomorrow, or WHATEVER…. you won’t be able to deliver Project X.

If you want to do this on your own time, and you LOVE doing it, by all means, go ahead. I love it when people bring in stuff they baked because I’m a pig, and I enjoy eating. But don’t think that any of what you are doing, is going to count towards your salary review or give you a big bonus.

Value your time because no one else will.

Pass off the busywork to other eager folks. Don’t take that load on yourself. It’s your time and in many cases, your money if you’re the one baking cupcakes and no one is compensating you for the flour, sugar, etc.

You’ll just end up organizing and doing that job AND your own.

Who wants to take on more work for no real recognition or pay?

Not I, said the pig.

You look like a doormat if you are the one who they go to for all of this.

Also, you know what? You also look like you’re not busy or important because you have ALL OF THIS FREE TIME to do all of this AND your job.

No one is asking the manager or the VP to track who has donated to the charity, are they? Because they are important. They are busy. Their time is worth money.

Aren’t you?

If the manager wants it truly done, they’ll do it themselves or find someone else to do it.

If you want to contribute, do things like buy chocolate, candy or go to the bakery and bring it to the office and be done with it. Pay. Just pay.

Don’t ORGANIZE anything and don’t ever VOLUNTEER for these things. K

So keep your hand down, mouth zipped and wait.

Stop undermining your time and yourself.

Stop working for free.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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  1. Catherine

    This is so true.

    In my experience, females are typically the ones in the office approached with these “emotional labour” tasks. I remember when I was a young engineer, another female who organized an annual charity approached me to help her take it over. I agreed – wanting to be a good team player and a general good employee.

    What I learned from that experience, was exactly as you mentioned:
    – No one appreciated it – in fact, it felt like I was “forcing” others to partake in this charity for MY sake
    – I felt obligated to do it again the following year (and I believe that I did)
    – Once the charity organizations have an “in” with your firm, YOU will be on their list to contact for YEARS.
    – Other people start to see YOU as the GO-TO person for this kind of activity and then it can easily take over more of your time

    To be clear – it is WORK to do complete these extracurricular tasks, so treat it like any project you’re working on. That’s not to say that I want to poo-poo on all these charitable ideas. Like, Sherry, I LOVE it when someone brings in goodies, and I myself find charitable giving fulfilling. It’s not about saying no to everything, but more about being smart with your time.

    For instance, if you are senior enough, you can spearhead an initiative and have a team execute on the project – whatever it is. Another exception is, perhaps there is an opportunity to gain visibility in your company if you are organizing a social event – and you do a great job pulling it off.

    At the end of the day, don’t just do emotional labour without a clear goal and understanding of what the effort is involved.


    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yeah, know what you are getting into is the real message. I personally wouldn’t. I just buy chocolates as being part of the team, IF that is the team dynamic and everyone pitches in to buy chocolates and so on. I am not doing it just to garner “team spirit”.


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