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12 posts from August 2011

August 31, 2011

Three things you must do immediately for better work life balance

Many people have a dream or passion they never have pursued. 

What's the biggest excuse used? A hectic schedule. Think about it, have you recently blurted out..."If I only had the time, I'd ____."

It is important to realize that everyone has 24 hours in the day, and what matters is how you use that time to your benefit. Making time for what fulfills you...that's at the essence of work life balance.

I just learned in Rick Frishman's Sunday Tips that Nicholas Sparks was super busy while trying to write The Notebook. He had to care for his children, including a newborn, focus on his job, which required a lot of traveling, and of course find time for his wife, as well. Despite the obstacles, he didn t let the busy schedule get in the way of his writing. He was determined to finish his book, and of course, we all know how that turned out. The Notebook was not only a success on the bookshelves, but was also made into a multi-million dollar movie.

First, if you have a dream you want to pursue, you have to find the time. You don't have to spend a long period of time trying to complete a project, learn a new language or write that novel you dream about writing. You just have to spend some time consistently, every day working toward making it happen. 

Next, examine when you can make the time. Some people get up a little earlier and devote time in the morning before the rest of the family wakes up. Others pursue their passion during their lunch breaks, while others choose to devote time at night after the family has gone to bed.

Last, vow to not only make the time, but to give your pursuit your full attention during the time alloted. If you spend a half hour every morning  without interruption, you should make major progress within a few months.  

Remember, don t let your busy schedule stand in the way of your dreams. No excuses.





 (Nicholas Sparks found the time, so can you)


August 26, 2011

Court Ruling Against Working Moms Brings Attention to Work-Life Balance

Mom blogs heated up this week after a shocking court ruling.

A group of women at Bloomberg Media claimed they were passed over for promotions after having children. The sued, and lost.

The judge says they were not discriminated against and that the law does not require companies to provide a balance between work and home life. The judge found that “even if there were several isolated instances of individual discrimination,” the commission had insufficient evidence to prove that discrimination was the company’s “standard operating procedure.” 

 Judge Loretta Preska:

 Absent evidence of a pattern of discriminatory conduct . . . the EEOC's pattern or practice claim does not demonstrate a policy of discrimination at Bloomberg. It amounts to a judgment that Bloomberg, as a company policy, does not provide work/life balance.


The editorial director of Working Mother magazine calls that a step backwards. "The best and most productive companies are those who have workers who are satisfied and feel engaged at home and at work," says Jennifer Owens.

While that's true, is it realistic to believe companies should care about our work life balance? Most of us working moms know that to succeed at high levels, you have to make some tough choices. I hate admit that high level female managers often lack balance in their personal lives. It takes long days to get ahead and many of us choose not to make those sacrifices. But I do get angry when I hear about a working mom who works her buns off and gets passed over for a promotion.

What do you think? Are women with kids discriminated against at most big companies? Should companies be required to provide a balance between work and home life?


August 25, 2011

Should Pat Summitt decide when to quit?

Pat%20Summitt Pat Summitt is only 59.

She is the coach of the Tennessee Women Volunteers and considered one of the greated basketball minds on the planet. Earlier this month, she noticed she was stumbling during team huddles while trying to set up plays or defenses. She went to the Mayo Clinic and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

She later relased a moving video in which she explanied her circumstances and told reporters that "there's not going to be any pity party and I'll make sure of that." She says she's going to fight this thing with every ounce of stregth she has in her body.

So the question is, should she be allowed to continue to coach until she feels she needs to resign? The even bigger question is "who gets to decide exactly when your health interferes with your job?"

This is a tricky question. It's a question that's led to many employment lawsuits. Who gets to decide when a company leader is no longer fit to lead? The leader? The board of directors? The HR director?

Steve Jobs, co-founder and long-time leader of tech-behemoth Apple Inc., announced his resignation yesterday evening. Rumors of Jobs eventual resignation have been circulating since Jobs took a leave of absence in January for health reasons. I wonder how much say he had over the timing of his resignation. To me, your health is your business -- but in many ways, it's your employer's business, too. Ideally, it should be a mutual decision....of course, that's not always possible.

Readers what are your thoughts? Who should decide when someone is too sick to lead others?

August 24, 2011

How working parents use technology to monitor, communicate with kids

As a working mom, I love texting. Today, my daughter sent me a text letting me know she was attending a club meeting after school. I forwarded the text to my son so he would know to wait for his sister.

If I'm out interviewing someone for a story, I can text my kids to make sure they are where they need to be. But I'm certainly not as tech savvy as some of the other working moms out there who are using all kinds of devices and apps to keep up with their kids while at work.

In my Miami Herald column today, I talk to some experts and parents and share their examples. Readers, please chime in with your comments if you've discovered some tools or cool Apps that I didn't mention in the article.

The Miami Herald

New technology helps parents monitor kids


While at work, Eden Rose, an office administrator at the law offices of Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs,  uses her iPhone to watch and communicate with her  daughter.
Tom Ervin / for the miami herald
While at work, Eden Rose, an office administrator at the law offices of Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs, uses her iPhone to watch and communicate with her daughter.
For Wendy Brown, keeping an eye on her toddler from the office meant using a NannyCam to ensure the caregiver was changing her daughter’s diaper and reading her books. Now, she has graduated to Skype sessions with her 13-year-old daughter, who logs on from a laptop the minute she arrives home from school. “It takes a lot more to keep an eye on a teenager.”

Video alerts, smartphone apps, email and other digital tools are gaining popularity as working parents try to monitor and communicate with their 21st century kids. Today, technology can allow parents to know who their kids are with, what they’re saying about their school day and whether they are safe — even if Mom or Dad is away on a business trip, out on a sales call or stuck late at the office.

With the new school year kicking in, parental use of technology is evolving. “It not just about using technology to monitor or track them, now it’s about communicating with them,” says Monica Vila of TheOnlineMom.com. “If you work all day, there’s the guilt thing. You feel, ‘What am I missing?’ Technology now allows you to bridge that gap and add quality to your communication.”

For communicating, texting is the most common between working parents and their kids, particularly when they reach middle school. A teacher friend of mine leaves before her kids in the morning. “I feel a sense of calm when I get the text from my son that the bus arrived and he’s at school safe,” she says. Some parents are taking it a step further. Vila, for example, creates video messages for her teen daughter to watch on the family computer when she arrives home. “I might say, check Aunt Judy’s Facebook, she left a really funny post. Then I’ll blow a kiss. It’s simple and it’s a different quality communication than a text message.”

Going forward, she says, communication will get better because myriad new smartphone apps are rolling out that use location-based technology. For example, the new app I’m OK, in the iTunes store, is kind of a private Foursquare for parents to ensure that their children are safe “without the nagging.” Family members check in from the library or Starbucks and let Mom or Dad know what they’re doing and that they are OK — then it rewards the child for doing so. They can even upload photos of the book they checked out. “It allows them to share more,” Vila says.

Beyond communicating, some parents want to be able keep their kids on task — even from their workplace. From her law office, Eden Rose, a legal administrator at Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs, uses her iPhone to access the iCam on her 10-year-old daughter’s laptop. “It helps me know she actually is studying when she says she is.” Rose also uses a smartphone to send her daughter afternoon reminders to take her medication or check email alerts from new websites her daughter has visited. She uses Google Latitude to track her daughter’s location. “It’s been a big help to me. If she’s supposed to go to a friend’s house, I know that’s where she is.”

Read more:

August 23, 2011

Denise Richards: When your personal life hurts your work life

We all know people who do something in their personal lives that they aren't proud of -- post something embarassing on Facebook, kiss a stranger, maybe even have an affair. Should that hurt them in their professional life? 

Denise Richards, ex-wife of Charlie Sheen, says the sordid and very public happenings in her personal life kept her from getting work in Hollywood. She says she survived and eventually got work by persevering. 

I like what Denise has to say in an AOL video on the topic and wanted to share it with you. Even if you aren't a fan of hers, I think you can gain insight from what she says:


(Something is wrong with the embed code, so here's the link.)

How your work life balance can survive a horrible, bully boss

Based on email I've received, a lot of you out there have horrible bosses. Today, guest blogger Rajeev Peshawaria
 weighs in on the topic. Peshawaria is CEO of the Iclif Leadership & Governance Centre based in Malaysia. He is the author of TOO MANY BOSSES, TOO FEW LEADERS: The Three Essential Principles You Need to Be an Extraordinary Leader. 


When “Horrible Bosses” opened in theaters, millions of Americans rushed to the box office, empathizing with the murderous frustrations of stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis.  While most of us would never consider actually killing our bosses, the unfortunate truth is that the majority of Americans can relate to the characters’ predicaments all too well.

We’ve all worked for at least one horrible boss – chances are, more than one – and I’ve seen first-hand the toll it takes on both you and your work and your home life.  What’s the best way to deal with a horrible boss, without putting your own standing at risk? 

  • Put it in perspective.  The truth is that, at some point in your career, you’re going to have a bad boss. If you’re stuck with one now, it’s probably not the first time – and chances are it won’t be the last, either. Understand that.
  • It’s not you, it’s them.  I’ve found that horrible bosses are the way they are because they don’t have a clear vision of the big picture.  They are clueless about what they want out of their own life, let alone what they want for the team.  They can be warm and friendly one day and cold the next, and a small disappointment can quickly become a matter of life and death.  Understanding that your boss’ behavior has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their own lack of emotional intelligence can be incredibly liberating. 
  • Clarify your purpose and values. Since you can’t fire your boss, it’s imperative to develop a coping mechanism.  The trick is to get laser-sharp clarity on two things: what you’re trying to achieve in your life/career (purpose) and what you stand for (values).  By focusing on the bigger picture for yourself, you’ll be better equipped to tolerate your boss’ shortcomings.  
  • Lead up.  Horrible bosses are notorious for demanding high accountability, with little or no guidance on performance objectives and expectations.  So take the lead and manage up.  Have an ongoing and honest dialogue with your boss about your work and your deliverables. 
  • Be proactive. Keep your eye on the big picture, and be proactive.  The worst thing you can do is become reactive – it puts you at the mercy of your horrible boss. Bosses should not be allowed to control how you feel. Only you should control how you feel. 






August 22, 2011

Can your job security survive back to school?


For working parents, back-to-school means adjusting to change and that can be VERY stressful.

Today, all three of my kids were off to school by 7:30 a.m. This is huge for me! My work day can start much earlier. Of course, my afternoons are going to be much crazier. I spent last night writing down an hour-by-hour work schedule.

New schedules, new activities, new teacher demands not only affect our kids, they affect us, too. I have a friend who had to ask her boss to leave work earlier because the after care program at her child's new school ends an hour earlier than at his previous school. She was terrified to ask. I spent about a hour prepping her for the conversation.

With all the talk about "work life balance", to me having that conversation with the boss is what that term is all about. Adapting to new school schedules, new drop offs and pick ups, often means testing the flexibility of your employer and being careful not to risk your job security. A boss's response is what separates the loyal, engaged employee from the frustrated worker who plots ways to bolt when the first opportunity comes along, or does the job with minimal effort. 

Here are my five best suggestions for coping with back-to-school change:

1. Don't over-schedule your kid. Remember, whatever you commit your kid to will affect your work life. You will have to organize your schedule to assure all runs smoothly. 

2. Be honest. If you have a new school year routine that requires you leave the office earlier, let your boss know and suggest options -- coming in earlier, working from home at night, etc.

3. Start calendering. Get a copy of the school schedule for the new year and write it on your work calendar  -- now. Having a heads up on days off is critical for your sanity.

4. Build your village. The old saying, it takes a village to raise a family is true. Reach out to other working parents. Look into carpools, study groups and back up childcare. Offer to help other working parents when you can and ask for help when you need it.

5. Plan to re-adapt, over and over. If you have a new schedule and things aren't going as smoothly at work or home as you hoped, don't fret, change it up. Get your spouse to do one of the morning drop-offs or move an after-school activity to the weekend. 

Remember, if you're adapting to change this week, you've got lots of company. And also remember, not all bosses understand the needs of working parents. Readers, how do you cope with a boss who's not flexible when your new schedule requires it?







August 18, 2011

I'm not loafing, I'm refreshing

Facebookpage (AP Photo)

It's just so tempting to browse the Internet during the work day -- maybe you take a peek at your Facebook page or check on an Ebay item you're bidding on.

I've done it -- have you?

Now you can tell your boss about this new finding: Browsing the Internet can make you more productive.

It turns out that cyberloafing has been found to refresh workers mentally after long periods of work, according to a new study by researchers from the National University of Singapore. Surfing the Web is better for productivity than talking or texting with friends or sending personal emails. 

And, researcher found employers who turn into Big Brother and try to excessively monitor or ban it outright will simply find that personal Web surfing increases.

Based on the findings, the authors urge companies to strike a middle ground. “An acceptable Internet use policy would allow for periodic Web browsing while limiting the time spent on personal e-mails,” said associate professor Vivien K. G. Lim.

Personally, I find cyberloafing fun and a great break from the intensity of the work day. Checking out Facebook is like dropping in on a cocktail party or hanging out at the water cooler. Most of us put in really long days. I don't see any harm in taking a 10 minute break periodically during the work day to surf the Web -- as long as you're not going to any inappropriate sites.

Readers, what do you think of the study's findings? Does surfing the Web refresh you? Should we all take periodic breaks throughout the day to cyberloaf?


August 07, 2011

Seeking work life balance -- on vacation

This year, for the first time in at least a decade, I decided to enjoy vacation without checking email every day, blogging or obsessing over what I need to get done.

Call it a true vacation. We'll see how it goes. I let you know when I return.

I hope all of you are are able to enjoy some time off before summer ends!


August 05, 2011

Men, women and chore wars






Chore Wars? Are you working

harder than your spouse?




Is one hour of time at the office equal to one hour of doing laundry, cleaning dishes or changing diapers?

That's a pretty loaded question, isn't it?

Yet, it's at the center of a debate over whether men and women are effectively crossing over into each others traditional domain and equally dividing chores and earning a paycheck. Time Magazine's Cover Story, Chore Wars, added up the latest statistics on paid labor and unpaid labor among people who are employed full-time and concluded that men and women have never before had more equal total workloads.

The article says women think they carry a heavier load, particularly working mothers, but we aren't opening our eyes to the math. (Some of us prefer to be blind!) According to data just released by BLS, moms working full time did just 20 minutes more of combined paid and unpaid work than men did, the smallest difference ever reported.

Even more, new research on working fathers indicates that they're the ones experiencing the most pressure to be breadwinners and involved fathers. Men are doing three times as much child care as they did in 1965.

So while the numbers show otherwise, women still feel they are doing so much more than their partners. What gives?

Well, one guess is that women do things as household manager that take mental energy rather than time. Another is that women and men spend their free time differently, with women combining child care activities and leisure activities. They don't relax in a way that allows them to recharge their batteries. 

I know my husband works hard to earn his paycheck, and I do, too. We both do chores at home. But, as a working mother, I completely understand this feeling of exhaustion by working moms because we're pulling off the logistics of keeping the household on track.  But while we are exhausted, we're not about to give it up. Being chief household manager is a role we relish. Choretime

 Ruth Davis Konigsberg, author of the Time article, raises the point on her blog that paid work brings you money and status, while housework and child care bring you nada. Actually, I think otherwise. I think the unpaid work brings us working mothers subconscious satisfaction and bragging rights among our peers. We want career success but we still want that feeling of being needed, in charge at home and looked upon as mother of the year. 

Konigsberg says her article appears to have reopened a very touchy topic: who's really more put-upon, Mom or Dad?  I would imagine both genders think they have it tough. As traditional roles erode, I think who is more put upon is a topic we will be debating for decades to come.

What are your thoughts on chore wars?