November 08, 2012

Wasting time at work turns out to be a good thing



Let's confess: We all waste time at work. I just wasted time getting up from my desk to get myself a little snack -- and then I got distracted by all my choices. Have you wasted time in the last hour? Maybe you chatted with a co-worker about the election or possibly peeked at Facebook?

I get kind of upset when I realize I have wasted time. I have oodles of tasks I want to accomplish each day, which is why I'm always hunting down new time management tips.  

Now, new research says time wasting can be beneficial. Yes, you read that right.

Columnist Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times asserted this to be true this morning on NPR's Marketplace. Lucy recently wrote a column about research  by Jane McGonigal, a woman who designs computer games. McGonigal published research in the Harvard Business Review and says a small amount of time wasting, such as time playing Angry Birds, can make us more resilient. 

McGonigal immersed herself in research and says engaging in some activities we assume are nonproductive—as tiny exercises—may actually be a smart way to spend time, especially at work. These practices can make people more-resourceful problem solvers, more collaborative, and less likely to give up when the going gets tough. In other words, they can make people more resilient, more capable.

She found that time-wasting can be good when it boosts us in one of four ways – physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. An example of physical time wasting might be going for a walk around the office. An example of good mental time wasting would be an arbitrary task such as snapping our fingers exactly 50 times, which apparently increases willpower. An emotional time waster might be looking at photos of babies or puppies (or playing Angry Birds). When it comes to time-wasting that boosts us socially, the best way, she says, is to shake hands with someone for a full six second, which raises oxytocin levels associated with trust.

So, do you buy into this notion that some time wasters actually make us sharper? What's your favorite way to waste time at work?


October 17, 2012

Become a better problem solver in the workplace

Are you a born problem-solver, or is it a skill you learn?

Miami Publicist Lisa Palley says it's a skill you learn and she was taught it at a young age. Her parents told her to stay calm when she had a problem and think it through. Over the years, they showed her how to sharpen her ability to be a problem solver by believing there's always a solution.

At the same time, I have friends who just seem to be totally incapable of doing anything but complaining about a problem. The inability to think like a problem solver hurts them in business and often destroys their work life balance.

This week in my Miami Herald column, I decided to go to the experts and offer readers advice on how to be a better problem solver. If you have strategies that have worked for you, please share.

  Lisa & Myrna

(Lisa Palley and her mom, Myrna) 


Learn how to find solutions on the job


Don’t be a workplace whiner. Here’s how to become a problem solver in your workplace.



Most days, real estate agents storm into Ron Shuffield’s office with problems. They might have a closing that’s about to blow apart or a commission in dispute. They lay out all the obstacles and argue that there is no possible resolution.

“I tell them to stop, listen a little longer, learn all the pieces and focus on a solution,” says Shuffield, CEO of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors.

With the recession and cutbacks, it has become easy to be a workplace whiner or someone who points out roadblocks. What’s more difficult is being the person who calmly puts on his or her problem-solving cap and bring ideas and solutions.

“Companies are dying to have people play these roles,” says Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive, a Massachusetts-based crowd-sourcing company that helps businesses identify problems and connects them to solvers all over the world.

Being viewed as a problem solver can put a career on the fast track, even lead to better work-life balance. Problem-solving ability ranks high as a desirable trait for job candidates and it should become even more in demand from all level of employees. “It’s a key skill workers of the future will need to tackle the technology and global changes that lie ahead,” says Sayed Sadjady, talent management and organizational design leader with PwC’s advisory practice in New York City.

With a little effort and some know-how, you can become a problem solver. Here’s how:

•   Define the problem. Before jumping in with a quick and easy solution, become better at asking the right questions so that you tackle the right problems, Spradlin says. Recently, a manufacturer hired Spradlin’s InnoCentive to help find the right lubricant that would work for its machinery. But by asking questions, he learned that rather than finding a new lubricant, the company actually needed a new way to make its product. “It takes asking lots of question and brutal introspection to understand what the real problem is and why it hasn’t been resolved.” Spradlin says. “A better-defined problem is already closer to a solution.”

•  Think bigger. Craig Robins, a Miami real estate developer, has built projects that have been on the forefront of neighborhood turnarounds. As a pioneer in redevelopment, Robins has encountered all kinds of difficult situations. But he has become a problem solver by “getting out of box and not being consumed by conventional thinking or process.” Robins now has an ambitious plan to turn Miami’s urban Design District into a super-high-end retail destination. He has partnered with a Paris-based investment fund that owns high-end brands to make it happen. “Usually, innovative solutions involve collaboration,” Robins says. Most important, though: “It takes looking at things differently and perseverance to come up with a solution that’s better than what’s currently contemplated.”

•   Examine a failure. When faced with a challenge, be the person who does his or her homework. Learn the history of problem-solving efforts and what went wrong with already-attempted solutions. Shuffield, of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors with 10 offices in South Florida, says he encourages real estate agents to come to the negotiating table prepared for possible problems to crop up and with research on previous solutions that have been successful. By doing that, he says, you can enter a situation with a problem-solving mind-set. “You are prepared to take charge of the situation. People want to do business with you.”

October 16, 2012

Why we're miserable at work. The reason might surprise you.

Lately, I'm starting to wonder about all the negativity I'm hearing about workplaces.

I've heard employees are whining, bosses are bullying  and workers are completely unengaged.

On top of that, employees are stealing each others lunches, sending curt emails, shooting down good ideas and sometimes even getting violent.  

What's going on? Are most people miserable at work?

Of course, not everyone is naturally cheerful. But what's making all of us so unhappy at the place where we spend a good chunk of our waking hours?

A new Study by says our bosses are to blame. 

Bosses are leaving Americans feeling unappreciated, uninspired, lonely, and miserable, says the results of the study conducted by Michelle McQuaid, a consultant who offers positive psychology interventions in the workplace.

The study found that:

 •     Only 36% of Americans are happy at their job and 65% say a better boss would make them happier.

•     31% of employees polled feel uninspired and unappreciated by their boss, and close to 15% feel downright miserable, bored and lonely.

•     Only 38% of those polled describe their boss as “great,” with 42% saying their bosses don’t work very hard and close to 20% saying their boss has little or no integrity.

•     Close to 60% of Americans say they would do a better job if they got along better with their boss.

•     Close to 70% of those polled said they would be happier at work if they got along better with their boss, with the breakdown equal amongst men and women, but younger workers in their 20s and 30s skewed even higher (80%).

•     Over half  (55%) of those polled, think they would be more successful in their career if they got along better with their boss.

•     When stress levels rise at work, a disturbing 47% say their boss does not stay calm and in control. Although 70% of boomers polled say their boss doesn’t lose his/her cool in times of stress.

Most bosses are never offered training for skills required to succeed in their job...something to think about today, which has been declared National Bosses Day.

If you're not too fond of your boss, it might seem repulsive to kiss up. But you might want to consider doing something to improve your relationship with your boss because it most likely will help you better manage your stress. It may as simple as saying thank you as a response instead of grumble or you may want to consider using one of these 5 tricks to beat a bad boss.

Michelle McQuaid at suggests trying to improve your relationship by telling your boss what your strengths are – the things you like doing and are good at - and suggest new ways to use these in your job.

Readers, what action will you take today? McQuaid is encouraging us to share our National Bosses Day action on social media #tellyourboss. I'm planning to tweet my plans @balancegal!




September 21, 2012

How to Copy Working Mother's 100 Best Companies

Have you ever wondered, "Why doesn't my employer get it?"

The good news is that some employers do get the concept that a business can turn a profit while still making life more manageable for working parents.

WMCoverOctoberNovember2012Working Mother just came out with its list of the 100 Best Companies and they are offering some very cool benefits. Some of those benefits, guaranteed to help with work life balance, are easy to replicate, even by small employers.

Check this out: AOL’s New York City office recently gave employee parents a break by babysitting their kids for an entire Saturday. That's an easy perk for a small business to offer.

Here's another cool program: At First Horizon National Corp. they have a Working Parents Network: “It gives those of us who are caring for others the chance to exchange ideas, share photos and cry on each other’s shoulders,” a member says.

The “top” companies on the Working Mother best list offered paid maternity leave, telecommuting options and on-site lactation rooms. This year, the winners have shown their commitment in new ways like elder care referral and legal assistance to help busy parents manage their responsibilities. Those two perks aren't expensive to offer and mean a lot to those who need them. 

Some of the best companies even offered back-up child care, adoption assistance, health screenings and smoking cessation programs. Twenty-three percent had on-site nap rooms. Does that make you jealous, or maybe a bit sleepy?

Many on the list, such as Valassis Communications, offered flexible work hours. I see that as a family-friendly benefit an employer of any size could provide to its workers. 

Valassis also offers child care reimbursement, a complimentary car seat for newborns, college care packages and convenience services like on-site fitness centers, family rooms and dry cleaning services. It also offers an adoption assistance program,  up to $5,000 toward the adoption of a child.

The interest in fitness to help with work life balance is increasing. At Abbott,  at least 75% of employees are enrolled in the LiveLifeWell initiative, which features 12-week exercise challenges and 10,000-steps-per-day walking competitions. I bet even a small business could engage its employees in an exercise challenge.

Read more here:

Here is a full list of Working Mother's 2012 100 Best Companies and some key statistics on their performance.

What one “family” benefit would you most like to have at your office?

Read more here:

September 18, 2012

How the Best Companies handle health and wellness

Every year I look forward to the Working Mother 100 Best Companies. I'm fascinated by who these savvy employers are and what they offer their workers. Like most working mothers, I'm envious of those parents who are fortunate enough to work for companies that want happy workers.

Now, Working Mother named for the first time the Top 10 Best Companies for Health
and Wellness. This new award recognizes top employers that have created programs and policies that encourage health and fitness as a way to reduce stress in the workplace.

The Top 10 Companies for Health and Wellness for 2012 are: Cornell University, Discovery Communications, Ernst & Young, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Mercy Health System, Morgan Stanley, Verizon Communications, and Wellstar Health System.

At these companies, seven feature fitness centers, all offer fitness classes and many have on-site medical clinics. General Mills’ on-site fitness center offers personal training and massages, while Goldman Sachs holds a weeklong program on resilience and health. At Discovery, 65
percent of the workforce participated in a four-month fitness challenge.

Jennifer OwensI spoke with Jennifer Owens, Editorial Director for Working Mother and Working Mother Research Institute, and asked her about the magazine's interest in health and wellness.

Q. Health and wellness certainly is on the minds of most working moms. How did the idea for finding the top employers in this category come about?

A. This was something the work life practitioners were talking about. They see it coming up as an issue because of burnout, employee engagement and productivity concerns. 


Q. Did you have a personal interest in the topic?

A. I used to handle wellness on my own when I was single. But between long hours,  keeping the business going and the kids, it's more complicated now. I'm completely passionate about this topic because I do personally need the help.

Q. What, to you, was most interesting about what the Best Companies in this category provide?

A. About 98 percent offer stress management. I thought, "Wow! That's cool because I’m stressed." I wondered, "What is that?"  I learned that it's time management, delegation, work strategy...breathing is part of it and communication is part of it. It's about being part of a supportive team. These companies are teaching employees how to manage their stress and be more resilient.

Q. For what you've seen, what's the key to wellness? What works?

A.  About 81 percent of these Best Companies have fitness centers and walking paths.
But the companies that see a difference are the ones who are getting people to work together to get well.

Q. It's great to work for a big employer that offer on-site fitness centers and other benefits but what can a small employer do?

A. I don't think it costs a lot to have someone come in and talk about stress management or nutrititon. Many small employers also get lower prices for their staff at the local gym. There is a way use the power of your workforce to get everyone involved. I worked at tiny publishing company and we got together and did lunchtime yoga. One lady led it and everyone got involved. It cost nothing. Most of us spend a lot of time at work. If we can carve out time at our workplace for health and wellness, that may be the answer.

Q. How do you squeeze fitness into your schedule?

A. It is very hard. To be completely honest, I should do more. I work from home on Fridays so I use my commute time to go to the gym and work out. I'm not at the point where I can work from home more often. I feel like I'm fighting an endless battle, but I'm working on it again. I think all of us at Working Mother are going to figure it out and come up with a plan. I may have to take the lead.

Q. I know most of the companies on your 100 Best understand the need for flexibility. Do you think there are employers who have made the link between flexibility and wellness?

A. They do at the 100 Best. I think they understand that how you get your work done feeds into your
sense of well being.


Here is a full list of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies, now in its 27th year, and a link to how 10 working moms keep wellness on their to-do lists. I'm also including a fabulous infographic from Working Mother that shows some of the wellness benefits that the Best Companies offer. I think it's interesting that 97 percent offer a weight loss program. That's a tremendous benefit!



July 11, 2012

Smartphone addiction and summer travel

Every summer, my family vacation is a negotiation when it comes to wireless gadgets. It starts before we even leave the house. Will my husband bring his work laptop? Will I? Should the kids bring their cell phones? I'd like to ban all electronics but I usually get vetoed.

When I think about it, it's not the gadgets we're arguing over, it's what we do with the gadgets that creates the problem. They pull us into a virtual world that takes away from connecting with the people around us.

Of course, my husband argues that he needs to check in with work. Many people feel that way. Checking in now and then is one thing. Smartphone addiction is another. From the palm of our hand we can connect with our offices, and some people just can't disconnect. It really stinks if you're the person traveling with the smartphone addict. 

Leslie Perlow, a Harvard Business School professor and author of Sleeping With Your Smartphone  thinks people can beat smartphone addiction and take real vacations if they work in teams. Important things come up and someone needs to handle them, she says. "But there's no reason you have to be on all the time." If you work as a team and have the conversation where everyone gets the same benefit ( a stress free vacation or one night a week off),there are lots of ways to cover for each other, she says. "It's about being proactive."

Today, in my Miami Herald column I wrote about the effect of smart phone addiction on spouses, partners, friends and travel companions. If you've can relate, let me hear from you. How do you handle it being around a smartphone addict?

The Miami Herald

Smartphone addiction can put damper on vacations, relationships

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

Tim Lee / MCT
On vacation, Annabel Fernandez watched incredulously as her husband splashed in the pool of a beachfront resort with their twin daughters. Between the giggling and water play, she saw him glancing at his iPhone on the pool’s ledge. The night before, she had caught him checking email on his smartphone under the table at dinner.

“I started realizing it was an addiction,” she said. “I felt like we were losing him to a screen.”

As the number of smartphone users rises, so does the level of anxiety and friction around using them. Downsizing and economic realities have left workers with a real fear of what might happen if they are out of touch too long. Will the client go elsewhere? Will the boss find a new protégé? The fear has turned into a compulsion that has workers tethered to their mobile phones — even when they’re supposed to be off the clock.

But for the spouse, partner, friend, or travel companion of a smartphone addict, the fear can ruin a vacation, a night out or worse — a relationship.

“When you’re on the phone you’re ignoring the person you are traveling with; that creates resentment,” says Kimberly Young, a psychologist and director of Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.

The digitally hooked often overlook the toll on their companions. Married to an attorney, Bob Greene says it completely unnerves him to watch his wife’s reaction to an incoming work-related email. “We’re supposed to be on vacation relaxing, and I can see that something at the office didn’t go her way. It not only stresses her out, it stressed me out, too.”

While smartphone addiction has been difficult to track, in a survey by mobile-services provider  iPass, 91 percent of mobile users said they use their free time, both day and night, to check their smartphones. Among those, almost 30 percent check their smartphones three to five times an hour, and 20 percent check them five to 10 times an hour. Young calls anxiety around constant connectivity “a chronic and universal problem.”

Travel companions say the problem often comes to a head on vacation or during leisure activity when the goal is to reconnect and their partner sends the message that business is a priority. Companions say they find themselves torn between bringing the smartphone user into the present and coming across as a nag.

Miami marketing strategist Michelle Villalobos says the only way to travel with a smartphone addict is to establish the rules upfront, before the loaded minivan leaves the driveway. “If you wait until you’re in the moment, you find yourself in the situation where the other person is looking at you like ‘who are you, the cellphone police?’ When traveling, she and her boyfriend not only set the time when they will check in with work, they also set the place — for example only in the hotel room in the early morning hours.

Making the rules together and negotiating is key. Some people really do need to be accessible and forcing them to disconnect could create business challenges, Young says. “You may need to accept a middle ground, and instead of setting overall vacation rules, set daily rules based on what everyone needs.”



Read more here:


July 05, 2012

Should you vacation without your kids?


Every summer my husband and I take a short vacation without our kids. When we started, I was opposed to the idea but it was forced upon us. My husband's company has an executive retreat each summer in which spouses are welcome, children are not.  This first year, I felt SO guilty leaving my kids for four days to go off to a resort. But I quickly realized the benefit of being with my husband  without my attention divided.

I was listening to NPR's The Takeaway this morning and I heard this question posed to the listeners: Vacation: Should we bring the kids?

Most of us these days are on a tight budget and/or limited in usuable vacation days. If we do take vacations, we want the quality time with our families. But should parents sacrifice a family trip for time to themselves?

These days, as my kids near college age, I'm desperate to get any quality family time I can get. I don't want to give up family vacation. 

Yet, I have discovered through personal experience that leaving behind the daily grind and spending leisure time with my husband and no kids gives us an opportunity to reconnect.We come back a stronger team to tackle the parenting issues that inevitably arise in our daily lives. Each summer when we attend the retreat I feel less guilty leaving my kids behind.

For many parents, dropping the kids off somewhere and spending a week at a five-star hotel can be anywhere from impractical to impossible. But Katrin Schumann, author of “Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too” says that kind of vacation isn't necessary. Oftentimes, parents can reenergize by doing nothing more than taking a walk or spending time pursuing personal interests, she says. If you can swing it, I think an overnight trip alone with your spouse is ideal. It doesn't even have to be expensive...a nearby budget hotel on the ocean or on a lake will do as long as you both leave your smartphones, laptops, worries and guilt behind. 

"I can see why parents would feel guilty being away from their children, "Schumann says, "but what they don't understand is that if you take a long-term perspective on this, very often it's the case where getting away and re-energizing and reconnecting with yourself makes you a better parent in the long run."

What are your thoughts about vacationing without your kids? Have you ever done it and if now, would you consider it? 

June 06, 2012

Married to the job, and lovin it

I was listening to a radio interview with Bravo's Andy Cohen when the host asked him if he was seeing anyone right now. Cohen laughed and said he just didn't have time to date. "I'm happily married to my job," he replied. 

That made me think about work life balance and singles. Some singles are so dedicated to their jobs that they are unable to invest the time a relationship often needs to stay strong. I really don't see anything wrong with that as long as the person feels fulfilled. 

But I wanted to explore the topic and find out how fulfilled those who are married to their jobs are and whether romantic relationships are totally out of the question. I tackled the topic in my Miami Herald Work Life Balancing Act column.

Do you feel that being completely devoted to your job is enough to feel fulfilled?


The Miami Herald

It’s OK to be happily married to your job, these workers say

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

   Sheryl Cattell, director of online marketing for Cross Country Home Services in Sunrise, says she is happily married to her job.
Sheryl Cattell, director of online marketing for Cross Country Home Services in Sunrise, says she is happily married to her job.
Sheryl Cattell, an online marketing director, says her passion for her work is so intense she is often still at her desk at midnight. “I just go into a zone and literally have no idea of space and time.” With such single-minded focus, Cattell says personal relationships have been challenging. “Most partners are jealous when you love your job that much.”

As the country moves into summer wedding season, an increasing number of singles say they are happily married to their jobs. On television, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and Bravo’s Andy Cohen are high-profile examples, two single entertainment/media mavens who devote most of their waking hours to their careers.

As of 2011, there are 101 million people in the United States over the age of 18 who are single, up from 83 million a decade ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s America’s Families and Living Arrangements survey. Of the singletons, 62 percent of them have never been married and about 2 million of them earn more than $75,000 a year.

Research often cites the ideal worker as someone who is perpetually available, has no outside responsibilities or interests, rarely gets sick, and prioritizes work above all else. Barbara Teszler, 26 and single, says that describes her 100 percent and she’s OK with it. “I’m totally a workaholic. I’d much rather be doing something I’m insanely passionate about for 80 hours a week than getting off at 5 like Fred Flintstone and doing something I didn’t enjoy.”

Teszler started a Los Angeles public relations firm six months ago. She wants a social life and relationships, but work gets top priority. “The last couple of guys I’ve seen have accused me of being cold. They thought I didn’t show as much interest in them as I did my job. I’m not going to apologize for that. My business is my baby, and that has to come first.”

Entrepreneurs are among the most likely to report being married to their jobs. “They feel the 24/7 pull to get it right,” says Todd Dewett, a professor of management at Wright State University, who wrote The Little Black Book of Leadership. “For many of them, being successful at work is fulfilling but it’s never stress free.”

To maintain a romantic relationship, Dewett says, overachieving professionals must have an understanding spouse or partner. “One of the top reasons relationships have trouble is one person puts their job first. For it to work, you’ve got to have a partner who is absolutely supportive.”

Miami relationship expert Bari Lyman says making a relationship work when you’re married to your job often requires a new mindset. “If finding true love is a priority, you have to make the time and space to meet someone.” Then, to sustain a relationship you need communication, maybe even an agreement that emphasizes quality time together rather than quantity, says Lyman, founder of “What’s important is to find someone who shares your vision of work-life balance.”

Read more....




May 31, 2012

Whether or not to work for free, that is the question


Should you or shouldn't you work for free? It's a question you almost certainly will face at some point in your career. Sometimes the answer is yes.

I just interviewed a plastic surgeon who told me when he's at a party or in the men's room, he regularly gets asked for free advice No big deal, he says. Sometimes, giving out free advice results in a client. But then he also gets asked by friends to do nips and tucks for free. He's had to make a rule -- no freebies, no exceptions. 

When is working for free a good idea? 

You may have to face the decision to work for free early in your career when deciding if you want to take an unpaid internship. Or, the dilemma may come later in your career when you must decide whether to take on a project that means more work hours and no additional pay. Of course, it most commonly comes when you own a business and are asked to provide your services for free.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. WIll it pay off in the long run?

I just asked someone to make a DVD montage for me for free. It was actually for my child's school. She did an amazing job and said she enjoyed it. I know I can send lots of paying business her way. So, doing it for free was probably a good choice for her. It almost certainly was a path to payment.

2. Who is asking?

Blogger Penelope Trunk  says  you should consider whether the person asking is well connected and could send business your way. "If you do a good job, they are likely to pay you for the next one—or recommend that someone else pay you. Either way, you’ll get paid," Trunk says.

3. Will it build your resume?

You might not get paid for what you do, but taking an unpaid internship or more managerial responsibility without a raise can pay off later when you are able to use the experience on your resume. Penelope says, "When you start working for free, you need to have a very clear idea of how you are going to describe this work in your resume." 

4. Will you be learning new skills or exposing yourself to new experiences?

Unpaid work for personal growth is a tradeoff some people are willing to make. I recently offered to host a panel discussion on work life balance at a TV station. I didn't get paid but I did learn more about how television journalism works and met some amazing women.  I consider it a win-win.

5. Have you done the gut test?

At the end of the day, you must ask yourself whether you will hate yourself for saying yes to working for free. Most of the time, you know the answer in your gut.


March 29, 2012

Who knew? Most executives say they have work life balance



Would you believe that out of 4,000 male and female executives in 31 countries around the globe, almost three quarters of respondents (71%) said they have work life balance all or most of the time. Yes, a whopping 7 out of 10 executives feel balanced, says a survey by Accenture. That's MUCH higher than I expected.

The survey, entitled “The Path Forward, also found only about 41% of executives said their career had had a negative impact on their family and only 42% said they often sacrifice time with their family to succeed. So, if you believe the results, executives are feeling pretty fulfilled with their work and home lives.

The GlassHammer thinks there's something else going on. That there's been an acknowledgement that ‘having it all’ is not a reality. And, that there's a new understanding that balance means there are always going to be sacrifices when it comes to work and family, and that making those sacrifices is okay.

Here's another clue for why so many executives feel balanced: The study showed that many more people are using flexible arrangements at work than ever before. In fact, 59% of respondents – male and female – said they utilized some form of flex arrangement. That's a high number considering these are senior level people.

This confirms what I have always suspected. Give emplooyees control over their work schedules and they'll stick around: While the majority of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their current position (57% of women and 59% of men), most named flex arrangements as a reason they are staying with their employer.

What do you think about the high number of executives that say they have work life balance? If you were asked, would you say you have work life balance most of the time?