Today’s post is a special for my female readers. Gentlemen, please avert your browsers as I’m about to discuss icky girl things that would constitute a betray of my gender if you all keep reading.
Ladies, now that it’s just us, let’s talk about how to optimize your webforms using JQuery. Nah, just kidding…though I know that’s what the boys think we talk about when they’re not around.
I want to talk about something a little more personal: your period. More specifically, how the web and social media can make this part of your life a little easier. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to tweet the moment your period starts (really: don’t do that). I’m just going to offer some pointers on how technology can help you deal with your period, even if the only challenge you face is remembering to carry tampons when you’re due.
- Track it: The first and most important way technology can help you have easier periods is by helping you remember when your period is actually do. Period tracker is a simple iPhone app that does what the name suggests: when you get your period, you log it with a single click, and after a few months it can tell you the length of your cycle and your anticipated next period. It’s very discreet (the icon says “P Tracker” rather than “Period Tracker”) and you can also use it track fertility or PMS symptoms. There are lots more applications in this vein on the iPhone and Android app stores.
Log it:If you think your cycle affects your moods or energy level — or you simply want to remember when to be sure you’ve got some Advil in your purse — it can be helpful to log your moods or symptoms. An app like Period Tracker can make symptom tracking very simple with a click-to-report interface, but if you’re already keeping an electronic diary you may find it easier to jot down your observations there, or to simply use an Excel spreadsheet. The key is to be consistent and brief: you want an at-a-glance view of how your moods, energy or cravings unfold on a month-by-month basis.
- Schedule it: Put your predictably difficult days into your calendar — not just on your period tracker — so you know to keep stressful meetings off your calendar during that particular day or two. If you share your calendar with others, you may want to give that recurring calendar item a code name (mine is a Kander and Ebb reference) so that your colleagues aren’t subjected to TMI. If you have an assistant, consider sharing your code name and asking them to be cautious about what they schedule on that day(s). You can also set an alarm to ring a day or due before your period is due so that you remember to pack some menstrual supplies in your purse.
- Pamper it: While you’re putting your tricky days into your calendar, why not build in a plan that helps you cope? Schedule a trip to the gym, a date with your girlfriend, a reminder to pick up a good bottle of red wine: whatever gets you past the hump.
- Anticipate it: The asymptomatic twenty-somethings in the room may feel they are beyond these hormonal considerations. But listen to your elders, here: just because you cruise through a mood-swing-free month at age 25 doesn’t mean you’ll be the same joyful bundle at age 35. An entirely unscientific survey of my friends suggests that cyclical crankiness may increase with age. Get in the habit of tracking your cycles now, and you’ll be well prepared to cope when you reach a more challenging age bracket.
- Buy it: The Internets can help you track down some better menstrual products than you’ll find in your local drugstore. Our friends at Lunapads make a variety of eco-friendly options including their popular DivaCup. And at the HBS Dynamic Women in Business Conference I met Julie Sygiel of SexyPeriod, which like their name suggests, makes hot undies for that time of the month. And Etsy has some great tampon cases. Just please don’t get this one.
- Phone it in: Some women have a day or two each month when they are much, much more comfortable at home. Those are they days when social media and web tools can make your life better by making it easy to work remotely. Get yourself set up with Skype, Google Docs and any other tools that help you stay in touch with the office while hanging at home. You may find that your worst day of the month turns out to be your most productive.
- Code it: This is a special request for the gals at Google, where the company introduced Mail Goggles as a tool for limiting drunken e-mail mishaps by limiting your e-mail at certain times of the day. I’d like a comparable tool for encouraging second thoughts at certain times of the months. So how about a Gmail Labs tool that imposes a 15-minute hold or confirmation process during a user-specified time of the month? I’d like to be able to designate a 1-to-7-day period of time, recurring on a user-specified basis (say, every 28 days), during which any e-mail I send is subject to a confirmation 15 minutes later.
- Tweet it: Like I said, I’m not going to tell you to tweet when you’ve got your period — not because there’s anything to be embarrassed about, but because I’m no more interested in knowing your menstrual cycle than I am in hearing what you ate for breakfast. But I would love to hear your tech tips on how to make periods a bit easier: just leave them in the comments below, or tweet them with the hashtag #28thday.