Show Your Work

As we ease our way into a new year, we wanted to remind you that your 2018 - Q4 Emotional Labor Timesheets are due no later than January 10, 2019.  We will need them in order to close out 2018 promptly.

To assist you, we have answered some common questions below:

Q:  Was it emotional labor?

A:  Only you can know for sure.  We find that most laborers are under-documenting their time, so we recommend erring toward counting it.  As an example, online shopping for attire for an ugly sweater party is emotional labor.  While it’s true that you didn’t have to drive to a shopping center, find a parking space, pick through racks of hideous acrylic and wait in line to spend your hard-earned money on clothing you will only wear once, the time spent online is still emotional labor.  However, any subsequent time spent looking at sweaters you cannot buy because of their references to sex, drugs, or bathroom humor is not emotional labor.  Not all time wasted is emotional labor.

Q:  I don’t have children, can I still track emotional labor?

A:  Yes.  It is a common misconception that only reproductive members of society experience emotional labor.  The child-free can labor emotionally – typically we see this taking the form of being the “on-call” family member for any crises requiring swift response.  The child-free often receive phone calls at odd hours which are answered with  “what’s wrong?!” – this is a form of emotional labor.   Any work performed on the behalf of a spouse or partner can also be tracked.  This includes making excuses for that partner’s absence at social events, signing the partner’s name on a card, or using the “royal we” to reference work that was clearly done by just you.  In fact, those without children may have to justify this to family during the holidays  – and those conversations should be documented in your timesheet.

Q:  I don’t have a partner,  either - do I still qualify?

A:  Oh dear God, yes.  The un-partnered and child-free are at risk of excessive emotional labor, especially in Q4.  Your status renders you completely expendable to those around you.  Given that you don’t have any “real” responsibility, you may find that you are tasked with undesirable work schedules, asked to complete excessive travel, subjected to a variety of invasive questions, and/or given an air mattress in the basement as holiday accommodations.  These are all forms of emotional labor.   Any time spent in a basement during Q4 is almost inevitably tied to emotional labor.

Q:  Given that I have to eat anyway, can I track cooking as emotional labor?

A:  This is different for each person.   Do you regularly eat standing over the sink?  Do you have a “regular” delivery guy from Grub Hub?  Have you eaten more than one type of offering from Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee in the past three months?  For you, cooking is emotional labor.  If you cook on a regular basis, you might choose to log the time only if you use the good dishes or cloth napkins.  If you are cooking someone else’s signature dish, it is probably emotional labor.  If that person is deceased, you are certainly performing emotional labor. And we are sorry for your loss.  Baking is emotional labor.  Eating a tube of cookie dough is emotional, but not labor.   For those of you celebrating Hanukkah, any dishes prepared using hot oil is not only emotional labor, but should be submitted for hazard consideration.

Q:  Can “fun” activities be considered emotional labor?

A:  Absolutely!  Consider the following:  cookie swaps, tree-trimming, caroling parties, office luncheons, progressive dinners, game nights, concerts, watching Die Hard, Secret Santa, White Elephant exchanges, Christmas Card photo shoots and decorating gingerbread houses. All are emotional labor disguised as fun.  See how the gingerbread houses of labor sag under the weight of the fun royal icing and adorable Skittles?  Joy is exhausting.  Track that labor!

Q:  What are some common mistakes in tracking Q4 emotional labor?

A:  Don’t forget to track Halloween, Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  Too many laborers get so caught up in Christmas they forget that October and November are massive time sucks.  Things like finding missing gloves, visiting pumpkin patches, attending school re-enactments of the first Thanksgiving are all forms of emotional labor.  Remember too that you should include New Year’s Eve outlay.   Any traditions performed on January 1st (such as eating weird foods in the name of luck and watching tense Bowl match-ups) should be logged in Q1 of 2019.  Your hangover should not be logged, but any tending to overserved friends or family before the stroke of midnight is emotional labor.

Q:  How is this data being used?

A:  It’s not.  You may see some vague statistics in some article online next year, but there’s no actual reason you’re being asked to do this.  The good news is that any effort expended on completing this task can be logged as well! Good luck!