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12 posts from July 2009

July 31, 2009

How do so many people have time for naps?

 Nap                                            I'm racing to the car pool line at my son's camp while on a work call and I'm thinking about this new Pew Research survey on naps. Work life balance is a challenge for most people I talk these days, so how is it that on a typical day about one of every three adults in the United states take a nap?

   Are these nappers busy moms like me? Not exactly. Pew found more men than women report that they caught a little snooze in the past 24 hours -- 38% vs. 31%. What's surprises me is that more than four-in-ten men ages 50 and older say they napped in the past day, compared with just 28 percent of women of the same age. I know that women juggle more, but how do so many men have time to nap? Is it because more men than women are out of work right now?

   Below the age of 50, men and women are about equally likely to say they napped in the past day (35% vs. 34%). Wow, I wish I was one of those nappers. I find it way too difficult to catch a cat nap when I have calls to make, emails to return, kids to pick up.

  I have to wonder where are these people napping? At their desks? In the break room? Do all these people really have time to snooze in the comforts of their bedrooms? 

    Here's another startling finding: how much money you make affects your napping skills. Pew found napping is quite common at the lower end of the income scale; some 42% of adults with an annual income below $30,000 report they napped in the past day. As income rises, napping declines. However, at the upper end of the scale (adults whose annual income is $100,000 or above) the tendency to nap revives. Talk about resting on your laurels!

    Those tricksters at Pew got people to fess up about nap habits by making their survey wide ranging. They asked people if they had engaged in each of 10 different activities in the past 24 hours -- among them driving a car, getting some exercise, going shopping, watching television, using the internet, praying and taking a nap. They found almost as many people nap each day as exercise.

    Before I get too envious of those nappers, I'm going to take some comfort in the rest of the results The survey also asked respondents if they had trouble sleeping in the past 24 hours -- and, not surprisingly, it finds a correlation between nap-taking and trouble sleeping. 

    Here in the carpool line, my eyes are droopy....should I grab a little snooze? No, I'd rather check my e-mail.


July 29, 2009

Are you suffering from vacation stress?


   In our attempts to balance work and life, we're supposed to take a vacation. Preferably, a summer vacation. Indeed, it's not uncommon to ask a friend, "Are you going anywhere this summer?"

   But through a little reporting, I discovered American workers are scared to take a vacation this year.  About a third of workers aren't planning to take a vacation citing guilt, anxiety and tight finances, a CareerBuilder survey shows. In my Miami Herald column today, I wrote that many workers are postponing their vacations because of job concerns. 

    Christine Woll, a marketing director at a bank, told me she's the only one left in her department. She's worried that if she takes a vacation, something will happen and she'll be held responsible.

   Others who are taking them are staying in contact with the office. Is that a real vacation?

   I just got a Tweet from someone in Turks who can't get into his e-mail account for some reason. He's completely flipped out. Now you tell me, is this guy really accomplishing the purpose of a vacation?

    Beachillo Clearly, this summer the rules are different. The fear of losing a job or customer has made it nearly impossible for people to relax --- even on the beach. I bet you'll see all kinds of health issues cropping up by the fourth quarter of the year. Who would ever have imagined we'd live in the age where vacations have become so stressful?


July 27, 2009

What's a real vacation these days?

     Sometimes, a real vacation takes place when you least expect it. 

     Over the weekend, I tagged along with my husband on a company retreat. The kids stayed behind with grandma and grandpa. Alone and poolside at a beachside resort, I people watched.

       In his swimsuit, one dad just couldn't let go of his BlackBerry. He typed away even when his toddler son, nearly soaked the device with pool water. Clearly he'll spend his first day back recovering from the stress of the vacation.

      Oh, and then there was the mom who tried to read a novel, soak in the sun, talk to her hubby, and referee her kids' ping pong game. Just watching her exhausted me.

      The whole poolside scene made me wonder whether family vacation for some is a burden or a relief.  

       Here I was, alone with magazine and no one but the model plastered on the pages of a fashion magazine competing for my attention.  I suddenly felt....relaxed. Sure, I missed my kids. Sure I felt like I should be checking my e-mail. But even if I was just a little more than an hour away from my normal life, dropping all the plates I juggle made rejuvenation a reality. 

       What's a vacation these days?  Is it going to a new location with family in tow? Or is it giving yourself permission -- even for a day or two -- to stop multi-tasking and be in the moment? I've redefined my definition.

      This summer, with so much pressure on all of us to produce, will you take a vacation? A real vacation?

July 23, 2009

New laws possible to help balance work and family

If you're struggling to balance work and family, thank Karen Nussbaum for trying to make your life easier.

Up in the nation's capital today there was a hearing by the Joint Economic Committee on “Balancing Work and Family in the Recession”. The Committee examined the current recession’s impact on trends in the workplace that help employees meet the dual commitments of work and family life. There's a lot of conversation and research going on to prove that workplaces with unions are more family-friendly.

One of the most informed women on the topic of work and family is Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum.

The AFL-CIO NOW blog reports that Nussbaum  told the committee that the nation needs new laws to help people balance work and family. She said without enforceable workplace standards, such as paid family leave, most employers will not take necessary steps to initiate basic policies that allow workers to balance work and family. She also cited several examples of how workers’ benefits and safeguards have disappeared in recent decades.

  • Median family income has stagnated and actually dropped from 2000-2006.
  • Defined-benefit pensions are a thing of the past—25 years ago, more than 80 percent of large and medium-size firms offered defined-benefit pensions. Today, less than a third do.
  • Nearly half of private-sector workers have no paid sick leave.
  • Nearly a quarter of workers have no paid vacation or holidays, and Americans work, on average, a month longer each year than in 1983.
  • More and more women are working multiple jobs and nonstandard hours—more than one out of four regularly work nights or weekends. And nearly half of all women work different schedules than spouses or partners.

Read Nussbaum’s testimony here.

Nussbaum, who headed the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau under former President Bill Clinton, added:  We are now far behind all other industrial countries both in standards and practice....Now is the time to put the next generation of basic workplace safeguards in place.

      It's going to be interesting to see where the conversation goes from here. But I know many women and men who would benefit in a big way from mandatory paid sick leave and other family-friendly benefits.

July 20, 2009

Texting makes life easier but can it get you fired?

      Just this weekend, I tried to call my 15-year-old nephew to congratulate him on his team's basketball win. No answer on his cell. I sent a text. Back came an immediate response.

          So, it is no surprise to me that a soccer coach at Central Michigan University used text messages to recruit and maintain relationships with young female athletes. But it does surprise me that some of histext messages were sexual and inappropriate.  

      Indeed, it was the text messages that "did in" Coach Tony DiTucci. In a sexual harassment lawsuit, the students' attorney had obtained dozens of messages from the coach to the students, including several allegedly sent to one plaintiff when she was still a senior in high school. "He really used text messaging to lay the groundwork for initiating a physical relationship when she got to campus," said Jennifer Salvatore, the girls' attorney. The texts, Salvatore asserts, proved two things: that her clients were telling the truth and that the coach's conduct was "inappropriate." In April, she secured a $450,000 settlement from the university for the women. DiTucci also resigned.

     Texting may seem harmless and hard to trace. It might seem an easy way to vent to a co-worker about the irritating co-worker in the next cubicle. But as the National Law Journal notes: "the messages leave behind an electronic record, and for lawyers, those records are increasingly being used to bolster a variety of claims, particularly in the workplace."

 Here's what you should know: text messages can be retrieved even after deletion

      The most prominent cases of textual harrassment, thus far, have involved male bosses who have sent scandalous texts to female employees, asking them out on dates or promising promotions in exchange for sexual favors. In litigation, texts have become even more potent than e-mail, employment lawyers say, as texters tend to be more casual with their language."I don't know what it is about texting," attorney Danielle Urban told the NLJ. "But it's really bringing out the worst in people."

    In another  "textual harassment" lawsuit one employee claimed co-workers createda hostile work environment by exchanging messages back and forth that he foundoffensive.

    Bottom line, if you're thinking of texting someone you workwith or work for, think twice. It may make your life easier to text. Then again, it may make it more difficult.

July 16, 2009

Is Long-Term Employment a thing of the past?

     Is long-term employment a thing of the past?

     I say yes. Do you?

     In a great video interview withDiversityInc.com Cal Jackson of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida says everyone should have an updated resume at all times and be ready for the next opportunity. Jackson says its not "cradle to grave" anymore for workers and that by the age of 30 most Gen Ys will have had more than 10 jobs. Even if you stay at a company, the owner may change a few times as those in banking have learned, he points out. (Click here to see the video)

     While people aren't as quick to jump ship in a recession, I think this downturn pretty much wiped out any sense of employee loyalty, dreams of flexibility and hope of long term employment. I can't tell you how many interviews I have done with workers who say, "I can't believe they laid me off. I had been there more than 10, 20, 30 years. Yes, long term employment may be a thing of the past. But as this recession has taught us, reinvention and entrepreneurialism are a thing of the future.

July 15, 2009

Survival of a mompreneur

        I just read a great blog post on WorkingMother.com by a mompreneur who survived her first year in business. I found it inspiring.   

       As Toyi Ward (MaxiMom) points out, hitting this 1-year milestone can be challenging. Statistics show a failure rate of new businesses in the first year range from the sensationalized 90% to a more reasonable 26%.  

       Ward says, "The pressure to give up my flexible schedule and autonomy for the 80-hour work week was knocking at my door. But like all entrepreneurs, the love of what I do drives my tenacity."

       So, as someone who just formed her own LLC, I wondered if Ward made enough money to support herself.

     She writes, "I can’t forecast my cash flow out 6-months.  I can pay my bills monthly and on time. With all the economic doom and gloom around us, it's easy to fall back into the safety net of regular paychecks and paid vacation. So, I surround myself with other women business owners who are struggling with family and work demands and meeting the challenge."

      If you've survived your first year in business as an entrepreneur, please share the key to your survival!

July 13, 2009

What's taking women so long to wear black?

Ruth bader        What's taking women so long to wear black?

      Ruth Bader Ginsberg has worn it well....will Judge Sonia Sotomayor be the next to wear it?

      As we begin the confirmation hearings that stand between Sotomayor and a seat near Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the high bench, it's sad to think that it took so long for a women to have this opportunity. After 16 years on the court — the last three, since the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, as the only woman working alongside eight men — Ginsburg has a unique perspective on what’s at stake in Sotomayor’s nomination.

     The Woman and the Times blog, notes that the NYTimes Magazine interview with US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (”The Place of Women on the Court” by Emily Bazelon). has an interesting starting question and answer: (some of the follow up questions are great, too!)

Q: At your confirmation hearings in 1993, you talked about how you hoped to see three or four women on the court. How do you feel about how long it has taken to see simply one more woman nominated?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: My prediction was right for the Supreme Court of Canada. They have Beverley McLachlin as the chief justice, and they have at least three other women. The attrition rate is slow on this court.

Q: Now that Judge Sotomayor has been nominated, how do you feel about that?

JUSTICE GINSBURG:I feel great that I don’t have to be the lone woman around this place.

Q: What has that been like?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: It’s almost like being back in law school in 1956, when there were 9 of us in a class of over 500, so that meant most sections had just 2 women, and you felt that every eye was on you. Every time you went to answer a question, you were answering for your entire sex. It may not have been true, but certainly you felt that way. You were different and the object of curiosity.

Q: Did you feel that this time around from your male colleagues?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: My basic concern about being all alone was the public got the wrong perception of the court. It just doesn’t look right in the year 2009.

Q: Why on a deeper level does it matter? It’s not just the symbolism, right?

JUSTICE GINSBURG:It matters for women to be there at the conference table to be doing everything that the court does. I hope that these hearings for Sonia will be as civil as mine were and Steve Breyer’s were. Ours were unusual in that respect.

Q: You are said to have very warm relationships with your colleagues. And so I was surprised to read a comment you made in an interview in May with Joan Biskupic of USA Today. You said that when you were a young lawyer, your voice was often ignored, and then a male colleague would repeat a point you’d made, and other people would be alert to it. And then you said this still happens now at conference.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Not often. It was a routine thing [in the past] that I would say something and it would just pass, and then somebody else would say almost the same thing and people noticed. I think the idea in the 1950s and ’60s was that if it was a woman’s voice, you could tune out, because she wasn’t going to say anything significant. There’s much less of that.But it still exists, and it’s not a special experience that I’ve had. I’ve talked to other women in high places, and they've had the same experience.

Q: I wonder if that would change if there were more women who were part of the mix on the court?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I think it undoubtedly would. You can imagine in Canada, where McLachlin is the chief, I think they must have a different way of hearing a woman’s voice if she is the leader.

I particularly enjoyed reading the next question posed to Ginsberg, one that speaks to the heart of work/life balance.

 Q: In the 1980s, you wrote about how while the sphere for women has widened to include more   work, men haven’t taken on as much domestic responsibility. Do you think that things are beginning to change?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: That’s going to take time, changing that kind of culture. But looking at my own family, my daughter Jane teaches at Columbia, she travels all over the world, and she has the most outstanding supportive husband who certainly carries his fair share of the load. Although their division of labor is different than mine and my husband’s, because my daughter is a super cook.

          What do you think about the future for women on the U.S. Supreme Court? Will we see more and will it make a difference?

July 09, 2009

I Have Time: a fresh take on time management

       I just read an article in Success Magazine that can me a whole new take on time management.

      Author Mel Robbins writes: Your most important relationship as an entrepreneur isn’t with your investors, your partner, your customers or your spouse—it’s with time. Robbins says when she first launched her media company, so many things demanded her attention. "There were so many fires to put out. I felt like I was running in circles. I spent all day telling myself, “I don’t have time,” and I started to believe it."

     Oh, how I can relate! I think that feeling of being overwhelmed by a to-do list is something many of us experience.  

 Robbins says the first step to changing your relationship with time is to change how you think about time.

Step 1
Notice how much you actually speed up time by telling yourself (all day long), “I’m running out of time”; “I don’t have enough time”; “Hurry up”; “Time’s almost up”; “I can’t fit that in.” Those phrases start a chain reaction and send you spiraling into a frenzy as you try to jam it all in.

Step 2
Recognize that everything you’ve ever needed to get done, you have. When’s the last time you ever actually missed out on something because you ran out of time? Every term paper you waited until the last minute to write, you actually got done; you just pulled an all-nighter to do it. Every big presentation, pitch or bid got done—in exactly the amount of time you had.

I’ve come to realize that the amount of time each task takes is exactly the same as the amount of time I have to get it done in. You actually do have time when you need it—plenty of it. You are just  so busy rushing to keep up that you don’t think you do. 

Step 3
Accept that the problem isn’t time. The problem lies in your priorities and your habit of turning everything into an emergency. The answer isn’t more hours in a day; the answer is exerting power over your to-do list and focusing on what is actually important. Most of what’s on your plate can wait—an hour, a day, a week, a month or even a year.

The thing that can’t wait another minute is adjusting what you say to yourself about time and how you prioritize what’s important. Try this: There’s one thing on your plate that you feel pressure to get done. Start it right now. And as you work on it, repeat in your head your new mantra: I have time.

You’ll be amazed. You don’t have to rush through everything. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can pick the most important thing, and slow down. Because now you have what no other entrepreneur has—time.

       If you try these steps and succeed, please share your story.

July 08, 2009

Self employed and loving it, are you?

        It feels pretty amazing to be in control of my own destiny. I'm self employed and loving it.

        I have lots of company.  A new Census reportshows a big boost in the number of people who are self employed (loving it is optional!). People formed more than 1 million nonemployer businesses between 2006 and 2007, representing a growth rate of 4.5 percent.

        It turns out I live in one of the hotest states for self employment. California (2.8 million), Texas (1.8 million) and Florida (1.6 million) had the most nonemployer businesses in the country.

      The three largest economic sectors for the self employed are real estate services; professional, technical and scientific services; and specialty trade contractors ($97 billion).

      Industries that saw growth: The plumbing, heating and air-conditioning contractors industry added 11,000 businesses nationwide. Among counties, Los Angeles, Calif. (4,596), Harris, Texas (2,898) and Miami-Dade, Fla. (2,480), had the most nonemployer plumbing, heating and air-conditioning contractor locations.

     The florists industry reported an increase of nearly 1,400 nonemployer businesses in 2007. The child day care services industry reported 691,289 nonemployer businesses in 2007.

    Another trend: becoming self employed to supplement your income (also known as moonlighting). According to a January survey conducted by The Daily Beast, 23 percent of those polled have more than one paying job. Some said their second job was a hobby that had morphed into a money-making operation. Others said they needed the extra income.

    The Anti 9 to 5 blogger raises the question: If you moonlight or are self-employed on the side, should you fess up to your boss? Good question. I would answer by saying, proceed with caution. There is no good answer but if you think there's a way your boss would find out, it seems like you'd be better off being upfront about it. 

    Now, I want to toss out my own question: If you are one of the recently self employed, are you loving it or wishing you could work for an employer?