August 01, 2017

How Good Office Design Can Help with Stress and Work Life Balance

If you are stressed out at work, it may be because your office is designed in a way that creates tension. You may not have even considered that, right? 

Today, my guest is Juliana Fernandez, founder and principal of AEI U.S. Studio, the North American office of AEI, a world-class commercial design firm that is among the largest in Latin America. She has a lot to say about how the way office design affects our stress levels and how the right design can help with our work life balance.

Juliana has led office design projects in Miami, Latin America and New York and has more than 22 years of experience. Her clients include Microsoft, Coca Cola and Holland & Knight. So, let's talk design....

Juliana Fernandez (1)

By Juliana Fernandez

As employees spend more time working and staying connected to their jobs 24-7 via
smartphones, tablets and desktops, the boundaries between work-life balance are
becoming blurred. This has sparked a need for employers to take responsibility to address how their office environment plays a critical role in employee health.


From my day-to-day experience as a design professional, I have found that establishing
an office space where employees desire to spend their time is important. I have repeatedly experienced that even the smallest office changes speak to the value of making employee wellbeing a priority.


Yet, design is often overlooked when considering the foundation of improving burnout
rates and promoting healthy retention. This is unfortunate, as I have seen how
innovative workspaces can improve wellness and alleviates stress, while ultimately
encouraging movement, getting employees out from behind their desks, and fostering
interaction among colleagues.


At our firm, we employ in-house psychologists and anthropologists to design office
spaces that combat the stressful environment of workplaces to encourage and support
employee health and well-being. Our team possesses extensive experience in
workplace strategies, organizational culture and worker behavior. In fact, these
psychological elements should ideally play an integral role in today’s office design
process.

To really make a positive impact in the workplace environment and reduce employees’
stress in the office, here are the fundamental design factors that I have found to be
tremendously effective:

Provide Natural Light. Give employees as much access to natural air and light as possible, which has proven to decrease headaches and respiratory diseases. Some ways this can be achieved include creating offices near the windows, opening closed office spaces up with the addition of glass, and moving closed rooms toward the core of
building.

Design for Egronomics. Take ergonomics into account by using the right office furniture to minimize muscular and bone diseases. Effective ergonomic design can contribute to reduction in muscle and nerve issues. For corporate design clients, I
typically implement adjustable computer screens in terms of height and distance
to make people feel comfortable and to improve their visual acuity.


Factor in space use.  Consider how to stay dynamic by balancing work and social spaces. This allows employees to choose where and how to work and empowers them – leading to increased job satisfaction and significant stress reduction. Also, where possible, incorporate game areas and intriguing breakrooms to give employees another reason to stay engaged and satisfied at work.


Consider worker needs. Determine team needs based on your specific profession and culture. Give periodic surveys to employees to understand their work space desires. If
possible, work with a crew of anthropologists to collect observations, interviews,
questionnaires and results from ‘Design Thinking’ workshops – led by design
firms such as ours – AEI U.S. Studio. I have found that this process ultimately
acknowledges the relationship between spaces, workers and organizational
culture, by analyzing if they complement each other or on the contrary they send
opposite messages.

Ultimately, my years as a design professional have taught me that creating
work spaces that reduce stress, increase healthy habits, support the physical welfare
of employees, and maximize productivity and lifestyle –  requires the buy in of a socially responsible employer. If created and executed properly, thoughtful office
design has proven to be a powerful tool to support employee performance, one that I
have found to be key for surviving the digital uprise.

 

Globant San Francisco (1)

Offices of Globant in San Francisco

July 31, 2017

Monday already? 5 work life tips to get you through the week

 

There’s always a strange feeling waking up on a Monday morning. The week ahead has so much promise —  and in a way that can be scary. Will this be the week I get to leave work in time to take an evening bike ride? Will this be the week I land that big customer or make progress on that project I am working on? 

It could be. Here are some ways you can make it happen. If, you get started today.

1. Get In the Right Mindset

The first way to have a better Monday is get in the right mindset.  Are you dreading the things that might stop this from becoming a great week? Envision yourself waking up Saturday morning happy, ready to enjoy the day because you had a great week. Start Monday off by saying, “I will be happy on Saturday if I…” Now, however you filled in the blank, think positive and focus on making that happen. 

2. Get clear on your purpose

Now, to wake up happy on Saturday means you did your usual multitude of tasks during the week, but you did them with a purpose in mind. As Eric Barker writes in Time Magazine: Ask yourself, “How does what I do benefit others?” 

Barker says even without getting a new job or working for a charity you can find purpose. He notes that Duke professor Dan Ariely suggests “reframing your experience.” You might not be able to change what you have to do but you can change how you see it. And when you look at it through the lens of how it can help others, you’ll often find more motivation.

3. Gain Control

It is so unbelievably easy to feel overwhelmed driving to work on Monday, or driving home. Maybe you begin making a mental checklist of all the things you want or need to get done. Maybe you make a digital or paper list. Regardless, your mind is racing and the list is growing long. Stop. Take a breath. Think bigger. Set goals for the week. Specific, realistic goals. Ask yourself, “What could I get done this week that would give me a sense of accomplishment? Focus on those few, specific goals.

4. Energize Yourself

On Monday mornings, I’m already thinking about ways I’m going to treat myself during the week. Even if I have a ton of work to get done, I need something to motivate me. It could be a mid-week coffee break with a friend. It could be Friday night happy hour with my husband. It could be a book I’m going to start reading together with my son. It’s amazing how Mondays are easier to get through knowing there is something to look forward to during the week.

5. Plan for Positive Interaction

We all have people who annoy us. It’s an inevitable part of life. On Monday, imagine the next conversation with that person during the week going well. Plan on taking a deep breath or pausing before you respond to anything he or she says, and then choosing what you are going to say rather than reacting from anger or showing signs of irritation. Reacting to a rude person is a waste of time, as is letting your concern over the interaction put you in a grumpy mood for the week. You have the power to change that — before it happens.

 

It's easier than you think to start the week of right. So, think positive and ask yourself, "Will I wake up on Saturday morning feeling like I have had a productive, awesome week?" I think your answer will be yes. To read more of my tips, visit my website: BalanceGal.com

 

May 02, 2017

How to turn bad stress into good stress

On any given day, ask a friend, a co-worker or just about anyone the question, "how's it going?" and the response is likely to be…

Busy!

Exhausted!

Got a lot going on!

Most of us live our lives always on, rushing from home to work to our kids' soccer games, to the gym. We're stressed. We're overloaded. We're piling up tasks that need to get done in great numbers than hours in a day.

But what if the opposite were true. What if someone asked us "how's it going and we answered…

I'm so relaxed!

I'm feeling so peaceful!

Not much going on with me!

That's sounds so boring, doesn't it? In a way, we like to be stressed. We like the idea that we have full lives. My happiest days are those in which I wake up feeling a little bit stressed about what I need to accomplish, meet my work deadline, and allow myself the evening to spend with my family.

The key is to find the level of stress on a regular basis that's tolerable without harming our mental and physical health. It's kind of like figuring out our stress sweet spots -- the happy middle, where we're living in a way that makes us feel busy but also happy and fulfilled. To do that, we need to feel like we're thriving, rather than just trying to survive.

So you might be wondering how to accomplish the quest of allowing yourself to experience "good stress" without totally becoming overwhelmed by job stress or too-much-going-on stress.

One way to go about it is to choose activities in your life that make you feel good, happy, and excited about life. It's also a good idea to cut out as many activities as you can that drain you, or lead to experience chronic stress. 

Another tactic is to change your perception of some of the stressors in your life by thinking like an optimist. Get into the habit of looking at stressful situations as personal challenges and the tension you would normally feel about those stressors may lessen or even turn into excitement. Getting dinner on the table during the school/work week is a stressor for me...so I'm going to figure out how to make it seem fun instead of stressful. 

We can all agree that an unreasonable boss, unfair expectations at work, or an unhappy home life can create chronic stress that takes a toll. That's the kind of bad stress that we need to handle more aggressively. But the day to day stress that takes out of our comfort zones and keeps us feeling alive and excited about life is okay. Our kids, our friends, our activities, our parents…they give us a lot to juggle and a lot to appreciate.  Start seeing some stress as a good thing and be prepared for next time someone asks you "how's it going?" I've got my answer ready.

April 06, 2017

How to Change Your Perception of Career Opportunities

                                                  Job Stress


Recently, I was talking to a friend when she blurted out that she wants a new job. "I am mis-er-able!" she announced to me.

She said she has been working long hours and feels like she has hit a dead end at work. Again, she repeated. "I am mis-er-able."

"Don't you have any other options than quitting?" I asked. Her response was a shrug.

A lot of people feel the way my friend does, particularly women, according to CEB’s newly released Global Talent Monitor report.

Are lots of people really in dead end jobs, worried about our future and convinced things are only going to get worse?

The report found that women, slightly more than men, believe that their career opportunities are limited and they believe Trump's policies will worsen their career prospects. ( Particularly policies regarding paid leave, minimum wage and health care) The report shows 27% of women believe that Trump policies will worsen compensation, benefits and career opportunities for them compared to 21% of men.

I wanted to know more, not just about the report findings, but about why there is a gender disparity between the perception of career opportunities. I also wanted to know how to find opportunities when they do exist, and how to change the perception that it's difficult to advance at work. 

For those answers, I turned to Brian Kropp, HR Practice Leader at CEB, a best practice insight and technology company.

Brian Kropp HeadshotBrian explained: "It used to be that the reason people quit was because they didn't like their manager. Now it's the lack of perceived career opportunity."

He said many companies are spending money to attract talent and develop their people. They may have no idea their workers can't see a future at their company. He suggests business leaders consider a few actions:

o   Provide opportunities for career progression

o   Communicate openly about compensation, rewards and opportunities

o   Find ways to keep female employees engaged to build a more gender diverse leadership population

 "Businesses need to step up their efforts to show all employees a path," he said.  Of course, then employer needs to help the worker follow that path.  "What we are seeing is that it's hard to make promises when the future is more uncertain than ever."

Brian also he believes each of us can seek career opportunities in our current jobs by taking a proactive approach:

o  Have a thoughtful conversation with your manager about your career path and the opportunities that exist.

o  Create opportunities for yourself by taking risks. A big problem is that men are more willing to apply for a better position when they meet some of the qualifications,while women apply only when they meet most qualifications, Brian said. "Men tend to be  more aggressive in seeking opportunities." In the current political environment, women perceive that opportunities are more limited and are even less likely to apply for reach jobs. They need to get past that way of thinking.

o  Pursue advancement. "Don't let perception be a reason not to pursue something," he said.

Millennials have an even greater desire for a clear path toward advancement, he said. "Often they quit because they want new experiences and they think the only way to get them is at a new company." But before jumping ship, he urges millennials to seek out ways to get different experiences at the company where they now work. He urges employers to make those experiences more apparent.

The CEB report shows employee engagement and intent to stay levels are falling. But Brian believes a few small changes can prevent people from leaving their jobs by helping them see a future at the company and their part in its growth.

What would it take to change your perception and frustration with lack of career opportunities at your current job? 

 

November 03, 2016

How to scale back at work

 

 

Work-life-button

 

One evening I checked my inbox around 10 p.m. and saw a brand new work-related email from my friend Susan. It could have waited to the next day so I wondered why she was working so late. When I questioned her about it the next day, she told me she regularly works that late and admitted to being a workaholic.

Flash forward and Susan is now a new mother who is struggling with work life balance.

“As a former workaholic, it’s so hard to scale back,” she confessed. “Before, I had that crutch that I could always stay late to finish something.”

Lots of women and men face the challenge of changing their work habits after becoming parents. Others need to change their work habits when they become caregivers. This week, my friend Lisa called to tell me her parents need more supervision. Her mother has been falling lately. She has decided to scale back at work to be there for her aging parents, but worries she doesn't know how. 

So how exactly do you go from full throttle to half speed? How do you scale back at work? 

Have a plan. When you plan your work day, don't include the evening hours. Know the top three things you need to accomplish before you leave the office and get them done.

Use time wisely. Drive or commute time is ideal for making calls before you arrive home. The goal is to walk in your door ready to focus on your loved ones at home.

Delegate. Most of us want total control over every aspect of our jobs. Sometimes, when we scale back we just have to be okay handing things off.

Raise your hand cautiously. Resist raising your hand or agreeing to take on anything your boss or team needs. You need to be much more intentional about what you agree to handle.

Manage Expectations.  You will need to be realistic about what you can accomplish when you work at a different pace. Instead of agreeing to a tight deadline, give yourself more time, and convey that new timeline to your boss or clients.

Reprioritize. Most people find juggling the demands of work and the responsibilities of family is an ongoing challenge, but the first step is recognizing your priorities have changed and you must change, too. It's easy to feel uncomfortable no longer being the go-to person for every big decision. But you can still be influential and have a home life if you take on the high visibility tasks.

Scaling back and finding the right work life balance is tricky, but it’s also doable!

September 30, 2016

How to discuss work problems at home

Talkingwork
Lately, my husband has been frustrated at work. His team members aren't carrying their weight and he feels like he is at the office much later than he should be. For the last week, he's been coming home in an awful mood.

As a spouse, one of the big challenges in a relationship is letting your partner blow off steam and slowing down long enough to listen. I am tempted to jump right in with an opinion or let my mind wander off to think about the 10 things I need to get done instead of focusing on what he is saying. Sometimes I want to shout: "Enough work talk already!"

Yet, I have noticed that how I react when he wants to vent can be crucial to our relationship and to the harmony of our household.  Most of us have seen how household dynamics shift with each member's mood. For my husband, knowing he can offload without being attacked or dismissed helps him return to his office in a better frame of mind and improves our household harmony.

I've heard people say, "I never bring my work problems home."  I think that it is unhealthy to completely compartmentalize. Physically we may spend the day in two places, but in our minds we don't. We think of work at home and personal issues at work. It's just how we balance our lives today.  So it's natural to want to talk through workplace aggravation with someone who loves you and has your best interest at heart.

By listening, really listening, I can gauge what my husband needs from me, or even ask him directly. When I do, I often help him come up with ideas for how a problem at work can be resolved, or get him see the situation in a different light, or just offer empathy. When I have a problem at work, I want the same support from my husband. Even though he doesn't work in the same field, he understands workplace dynamics and worker behavior and has offered me some great advice over the years -- or sometimes, he just listens. Just yesterday, I was at an event in which a CEO told the audience he relies on his wife to help him navigate his workplace conflicts and it's the reason he has been able to survive in the top position at his company.

The trick is learning how to support our significant other while setting some boundaries that limit how much we allow workplace aggravation to permeate our home life. At some point, switching off is important, too. I think it's okay to point that out to your partner.

What are your thoughts on bringing work stress home? Do you find allowing your spouse to discuss work problems at home is a good thing for your home life or does it lead to arguments and stress on the family? How important is it for you to be able to vent to your significant other?

August 01, 2016

Post vacation blues: Finding work life balance after your return

                                                         

 

                                                         Worker on vacation

I am boarding the plane home from summer vacation, a week of fun with my husband and kids, and I'm starting to get that familiar feeling. It's a sense of dread. On vacation, I spent every day for a week planning an adventure or enjoyable activity with my family and now I will return to laundry, email, deadlines and a daily routine that doesn't leave much quality family time.

I am fortunate I love my job as a writer. Lots of people I know hate their jobs, their bosses, their overall predicaments. I don't. Yet, I dread the post vacation blues, the reality of resuming a daily routine that imposes myriad demands on my time and a constant struggle for work life balance.

So lately, I've been reading up on how to avoid post vacation blues, or even just end-of-summer blues. I have figured out a few things to do differently this summer.

1. Know the benefit of a break. Whether you are job hunting, thinking of leaving your job or overwhelmed by your job, you need a break. Tell yourself it's okay to take a vacation and it's okay not to think about real life responsibilities for a short period of time. My new mantra: It's okay to chill out!

2. Make a game plan for the return. Spend some time coming up with a list of things that you can do after you return from vacation that will challenge you intellectually or physically. Those people who are constantly challenging themselves rarely appear to be depressed or negative, according to Andrew Griffiths and his blog on Inc.  I signed up for an online writing webinar a few days after my return from vacation this year. It gives me a learning opportunity to look forward to that I easily can fit into my work life balance.

3. Do more of the things you enjoy. Part of making that vacation high last is figuring out how to put more fun into your life. If it's spending time with your family you love, figure out how to make more time for them. If it's exercising you enjoy, get up early and go bike riding twice a week. If you enjoy working, that's a good thing, too. What aspects of your job do you like most and how can you do more of those things?  Some people have a hobby they enjoy like fishing or gardening but the last time they did it was 10 years ago.  As the summer comes to a close, plunge back into something you enjoy doing. For me, I love reading. I just created a library of books on my iPad waiting to be read on a lounge chair on the beach over the upcoming weekends after my return from vacation.

4. Ask someone "how can I help"? Commit to helping someone else either in your workplace, your business network,  your community, your children's school. If you want to feel uplifted, there is no better way.

5. Get in the right frame of mind.  Sometimes we focus on the piece of our lives that we find dull or difficult or exhausting. When you come back from vacation rested and happy, you can use that as motivation to re-examine your work life balance and your outlook. What are the things that made you happy on vacation -- sleeping in, touring museums, taking hikes, eating at new restaurants? All those things can be done wherever you live. You just have to make the effort to do them.

6. Change up your routine.  During your first week back from vacation, take a new route to work, sit in a different chair at the dinner table or eat lunch with a different crowd. Small changes often are enough to renew our zest for life and help us stay motivated.

Of course, if the post vacation blues are overwhelming, you may need more drastic measures. Vacations are fun because they offer a break from the tedium and familiarity of life, but if you're miserable being at work or at home, you may want to make big changes to feel happier. And, if it's any consolation, it's never too early to start planning your next vacation! 

April 07, 2016

Should You Hit "Send" at midnight? The unwritten rules of email

 

                                    Bed

 

It's close to midnight and I'm still awake. Not only that, but I've broken all my own rules about logging on late at night. The house is quiet, everyone but me is asleep and I'm feeling extremely productive. Maybe that coffee I drank after dinner wasn't decaf like I thought it was.

I have just composed a response to an email I was trying to get to all day. But now, I'm faced with a dilemma. Do I send it?  On one hand, if I do, I can go to sleep knowing it's off my plate. On the other hand, it may look odd to the receiver that I'm working at midnight. It may even look like I have no work life balance.

SendUgh....what to do? What are the rules, anyway?

Recently, I spoke on a panel to an audience of PR professionals (mostly women). The topic of late night email came up. Most of the audience admitted to getting back on their computers after dinner or after their kids are in bed -- at least a few nights a week. Some of them admitted, they too struggle with the etiquette of late night email.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, one in two workers in the information technology, financial services, sales, and professional and business services sectors — industries that historically keep traditional 9 to 5 work hours — check or respond to work emails outside of work. Let's add journalist and publicist to that list. Heck, let's add teachers, lawyers, doctors, business executives and most other professions.

However, there are people who don't believe in taking work home. Some get annoyed by late-night work email and look down on the sender. These people want clear boundaries between work and home and they don't appreciate others who break those boundaries. My husband believes sending late night emails creates an impression you're disorganized. 

I noticed working mothers tend to be okay with sending emails in the evening hours. They understand that "doing it all" might mean sending an email at 10, 11 or even midnight.

In a recent column, Sue Shellenbarger at the WSJ pointed out that your boundary style and tolerance for late night email may depend on the kind of job you hold or your life stage. She noted that some people celebrate the option to log on at night as freedom, a sign of success in balancing home and work. For others, it feels like the opposite of freedom—a burdensome intrusion on their home life.

A banking executive told me she often composes late night emails but waits until the morning to hit send. I think her approach may be the way to go. I see 11 p.m. as the cutoff time to hit send. After that time, I am going to take the banker's approach and wait until the morning.

To be clear, I don't think anyone should expect a response to an email sent after 7 p.m.  But others will disagree. Some clients, co-workers and bosses expect a quick response, regardless of the time the email is sent. Unfortunately, this "always on" attitude is the direction business is going.

What are your thoughts on late night email? Do you think there's a reason or hard stop time to hold back on hitting send? Are you put off when someone sends you a late night email?

 

March 10, 2016

We have to stop stressing ourselves out

                                                 Stressed

 

Today I judged the Miami Herald Silver Knight contest for high school seniors. One of the students I interviewed had Chinese parents -- her father is a doctor and her mother has doctorate degree in psychology. The student, a high school senior, had dozens of activities on her resume, really time consuming activities such as working in a medical lab 20 hours a week, playing violin in a youth orchestra and tutoring students in math. She did this all while getting straight As in 17 AP courses.

"How do you do it all?" I asked her. "My parents raised me to be busy all the time doing the things I love to do,"  she replied. She said this matter of fact without appearing the least bit stressed, despite all the demands on her time.  

Look around and you will see that most Americans have a lot to learn. We may be accomplishing as much as this young girl, but we're completely stressed about it.  People are stressed about such things as   “deadlines,” “traffic,” “over-commitment,” “not enough time,” "difficult bosses" and “dealing with stupid people.”

Many of us are too stressed to take vacation. The latest survey commissioned by Alamo Rent A Car found that "vacation shaming" or being made to feel a sense of shame or guilt from co-workers for taking a vacation has become prevalent in the American workplace.

"We've created this kind of work martyr culture," said Cait DeBaun, spokeswoman for the U.S. Travel Association's "Project: Time Off." The number of vacation days American workers take annually has fallen steadily since about the dot-com era..."

Meanwhile, we walk around completely stressed while we are at work. Only about a third of employees are happy on the job, according to a Gallup and the Families and Work Institute study. The study also showed that more than half of workers felt overworked or overwhelmed at least some of the time.

Now, let's look a little further....We aren't taking all our vacation so that's stressing us out, we're stressed when we're at work, and we're definitely stressed when we're commuting back and forth to work. So, what about at home? Are we stressed at home?

study from the Council on Contemporary Families found people are actually more stressed at home than at work. Three Penn State researchers measured people’s cortisol, which is a stress marker, while they were at work and while they were at home and found it higher home.

Ugh...we can't go on like this. We have to lower our stress levels. 

Here are my top 7 suggestions:

  1. Get moving. Every time you find your stress level on the rise, get up and move. You can stretch, run in place, dance, or walk around the office or building. Just try to get your blood and endorphins flowing.
  2. Think positive. It's inevitable that something during your day is going to go wrong, or not as planned. You can take the sting out of these negative events by focusing on what’s great in your lives.
  3. Say no. Be polite but firm: Explain to others (even your manager) that you are overcommitted and that you must say no.
  4. Gift yourself time. Plan time in your day for fun, creativity and socializing. Even if it's just five minutes.
  5. Shake it off. Life is hectic. People are busy. You can choose to let small things stress you out, or you can let the little things go and tell yourself we deserve to live a happy, contented life. Focus on what you can control and shake off what you can't.
  6. Make a list. I bet you can think of a million stress-relieving, calm-inducing activities when you don't need them. Keep a list in your car, on your phone or in your office to refer to when you need to get back in balance.
  7. Set your alarm. It's up to us to establish a clear time to go home or set times after which we don't check email. Even if you have a difficult boss or client, it's up to you to set your limits.

Do you feel like you're living your life more stressed than your parents lived theirs? Do you think job stress and the stress of trying to strike a work life balance is inevitable, or do you think we can learn to manage our stress better than we are now?

January 26, 2016

How to Copy Lena Dunham's Year of No

                                  Lena

 

Today, Lena Dunham - creator of the HBO series Girls -- made a bold announcement. She confessed that she's a people pleaser and says yes way more than she should. Her announcement made me cringe because I could relate to it.

Lena explained her situation this way: "No" is a word that could have served me well many times, but I didn't ever feel I had the right to use it......

Can I be there at noon? Sure can! Will I bring three hundred bucks in foreign currency? Absolutely! Will I also promise to help a friend move, be late meeting them because I also agreed to babysit another friend's sick rabbit, then disappoint everyone in the process? I sure will!

Lena had convinced herself that saying yes at work and in her personal life was the key to her likeability. So she sprinkled it liberally until she began to build up resentment. 

Oh, how I know that routine way too well.

She points out that work is all about taking on the challenge and typically, a place of yes. Which is exactly what she was doing until one day, she missed a work deadline and began rattling off all the reasons why. Her work partner then explained to her that life didn't have to be an endless jog to accommodate all the Yes's.

Lena says it was a slow process but a polite "no" soon entered her vernacular. People responded well to her honesty. They understood. They may have been disappointed, but they understood. 

You may not have scripts to write or actors to meet with but within the last month, it's likely you said yes to something you really didn't want to do. I know I did. Now, it's time to change that. It's time take a cue from Lena, be realistic about what we can do and save ourselves stress and resentment. 

For the sake of work life balance and sanity, try one of these responses next time you're about to say yes:

"I can't do it realistically by Friday,"

"I wish I could help you on that project but my week is insane,"

"I can't be at that event. I have  conflict. "

 I don't want to go to go out after work.  I am exhausted."

Lena tells her friends and colleagues: Don't take it personally when I tell you no this year. I am using it on everyone."

That seems like a line all of us can spit out when we need to say it.  Are you ready for your Year of No!

 

                              No