August 13, 2015

How to return from vacation and stay relaxed


You are on your way back from vacation feeling rejuvenated, but after a few days, you feel like you need another vacation. The tsunami of work comes flooding back with a vengeance. Projects and deadlines you had sidelined now are front and center, and dirty clothes still await your attention.

Is this just the inevitable evil of vacationing from work, or is there a way to return from time off without stress?

The good news is that it is possible to make a smooth transition. This week, I returned from a 10-day vacation feeling great. I followed some of these tips and my return to reality was easier than after prior summer vacations. 

Here are some suggestions for how to return from vacation and stay relaxed:
Start before you leave. Get into the mindset that work may pile up, but you will be going forward with a fresh outlook and a better state of mind. Executive coach Eric Rogell advises you create a “first day back” plan before you leave. “It’s easy to get sucked into emails and phone calls, but those are time and energy drains. Hold off on those and do the important things first. Stick to your plan.”
Delegate. While you're on vacation, if someone else can do it, make sure someone else is doing it. During her vacation this summer in Napa Valley, Kathryn Orosz, a Miami insurance broker and winery investor, designated an associate to cover for her at work. She forwarded email messages that need handling to that person: “They copied me back so I could stay in the loop on how it was being handled. I had to remind myself not to answer anything, just to move the email along.” By delegating, Orosz said she avoided a backlog of correspondence and could jump back in on transactions when she returned, without much stress: “I was just responding on the end of the continuum rather than going back in time.”
Decide upfront how you will handle email. Your decision will make all the difference in your level of post-vacation stress. Rogell said if you’ve created an out-of-office message for your vacation, include directions for whom to contact while you are out and keep the message on for an extra workday. An extra day gives you space to get things sorted out without new expectations piling on. “Use that day to get to the priorities you want to get done,” he said. Even with an out-of-office message, most people check their emails, even if only sporadically. If your emails have piled up, consider making a quick scan, flagging priority messages and deleting all others. Chances are, if it’s important, someone will follow up with you.

Create a buffer.  Professional organizer Diane Hatcher says giving yourself a day or two buffer between vacation and work makes the return much easier. Some people try to maximize their vacation by returning the night before they return to work. They sit on the plane or in the car dreading the next morning and the harsh return to reality it represents. Hatcher advises against that approach. Give yourself at least a day to unpack, wash clothes and open mail, she said. “Sure, unpacking signifies the end of vacation,” she concedes, “but there are consequences of not emptying your suitcase right way.” An unpacked suitcase becomes another thing piled up to tackle while readjusting back to work. “Get it over with, close the door, get dirty clothes into wash, clean clothes put away so you don’t have it hanging over your head,” she said. Instead, you can return to the office ready to take on the workweek.

Schedule properly. Rogell, who loves to take adventure vacations, plans something relaxing the last day of vacation and something fun to look forward to the first post-work evening. He also cautions against packing your work schedule your first day back. Be OK with giving only 70 percent, and don’t force yourself into a 10-hour day, he advises. The goal should be to hang on to that vacation recharge as long as possible.


August 12, 2015

The virtues of quality time

After 10 days of climbing mountains, riding bicycles and wading in tidal pools, I'm back from vacationing with my family and trying to resettle into reality. What I will miss most is the quality time I had with my three children and my husband. 

Often I hear working parents debate quality versus quantity in time spent with family. Frankly, both are hard to come by when I'm running kids to sports practices, trying to whip up something somewhat healthy for dinner and worrying about making a work deadline. My conversations with my children and husband are along the lines of "How was your day?" or "How much homework do you have tonight?" I reluctantly admit that sometimes, I don't hear their answers, preoccupied by a phone call or email that need to be returned.

There is something about being in a different environment and a vacation-state-of-mind that opens the door not just for conversation, but also for listening. On vacation in Oregon, miles away from boyfriends, video games and a wifi signal, I asked my children questions and I not only heard their answers, I responded with additional questions that encouraged them to share more.

Studies have shown links between quality parent time and positive outcomes for children. I see positive outcomes for parents, too. I feel energized by having strengthened my relationships with my family. Typically at home, my daughter is running off to her boyfriend's home or my son is playing video games. There is something uplifting about quality time together outside of the normal routine where conversation goes deeper than the daily small talk.

I realize that going on vacation is a privilege some families can't afford. However, there are ways to build stronger bonds without traveling miles. For example, a picnic in the park or a visit to the museum with no where to be afterward could set the stage for the same kind of give and take conversation. Away from my daily worries, I was reminded how much I enjoy my family's company and just how valuable quality time is in our busy world. As I return to my Inbox and unfinished assignments, I am more conscious of the benefits of making quality time with people I care about and why we should all fight hard for work life balance.

What do you do to make quality time with your loved ones? Do you find ways to fit quality time into your work life balance?


July 31, 2015

The surprising life of a childcare worker

The cost of caring for a child in America keeps rising, but childcare workers' salaries are not. What's it like to take care of someone else's kid all day while you are being paid subpar wages for your work?

I don't usually post pieces that are political, but this is a topic that affects all of us who care about the next generation of children and the people who care for them while their parents hold jobs. Today, I'm thrilled to have a guest blogger/childcare worker give us some insight into what it's like for her. Her name is LiAnne Flakes, she is 40 and has been working in child care for 22 years. She currently works at the Bible Base Fellowship Childcare Center in Tampa and makes $10.75 an hour.


LiAnne Flakes

(LiAnne at an event outside the U.S. Capitol)

Here is LiAnne's story:

After working in child care for 22 years, I’ve seen firsthand how our broken child care system is holding our communities and our families back. Working parents can’t afford quality care, and child care workers can’t cover rent, groceries and basic bills for our families.

Each day, I care for and teach eight children between 10 months and 3-years-old, making sure that they eat healthy, learn to socialize and play and learn new words and songs. But I’m paid just $10.75 an hour to take care of our country’s most precious resource – our children. That means I can’t afford a car and health insurance.

Most child care workers are among the lowest paid workers in cities around the country. To be able to go to the grocery store is a luxury for me. Right now, my fridge is pretty empty – the last time I was able to buy groceries was about a month ago. 

Sadly, though, many parents are in the same situation, as far as not getting paid enough to afford rent, food and healthcare and relying on public assistance to survive. We’re in a system that’s not working for anyone – parents, children or child care workers. 

That’s why I joined the Fight for $15, and am joining with parents and our political leaders to call for a stronger child care system a $15 an hour wage for all child care workers.

Outside the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, I stood with parents, workers and members of Congress to announce a bold plan for a stable, reliable child care system and a stronger workforce that has the pay, training and support we need to provide the best care possible. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said at the event, “Families need a reliable and affordable child care system that’s available when they need it. And importantly, the care should be provided by skilled child care workers who are paid enough to support their families,”

In DC this week, I met child care workers, parents and families who are also struggling to juggle bills and make sure their kids are happy and safe when they are at work. She’tara Brown, a mother of three who works at the Dollar Tree in Tampa, and is paid $8.05 an hour told me that affordable care would change her life. Right now, her mom takes care of her 6-year-old and 3-year-old daughters and her 4-year-old son because she can’t afford center-based care. She told me, “I work so hard. But with what I’m making, I can’t support my kids. My check is $170 every two weeks. After lights, rent and necessities for my kids – like school supplies – I have nothing.”

I want to have children someday, but sometimes I think it’s a blessing that I don’t have any right now. It’s one thing if I go hungry, but an entirely different matter if a child doesn’t have enough to eat. The fact is too many families are working hard each day but can’t pay the bills like me and She’tara.  

Starting next week, child care providers, parents and members of Congress will be holding roundtables and town halls to discuss  policies that strengthen the childcare workforce and invest in affordable quality care. In the Fight for $15 we have already been taking our recommendations to elected leaders. In May, parents and child care workers met with Hillary Clinton to talk about what we need to provide the best care without living in poverty.

It hurts our entire community when hard-working parents can’t make ends meet and child care workers live in constant stress and anxiety about where to get their next meal. It’s time we had a child care system that supported all families and working parents – those who provide and those who need child care.



July 22, 2015

Hillary Clinton shares a great work life tip

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton was asked about the time drain of maintaining her appearance. She agreed that women have to work extra hard to get ready in the morning.

In an online question-and-answer session on Facebook, Clinton was asked about her morning routine by a female Facebook staffer who noted that she has to spend more than 30 minutes getting ready while her boyfriend “zips out the door.”

“I wonder about how the ‘hair and makeup tax’ affects other women — especially ones I admire in high-pressure, public-facing jobs,” asked Libby Brittain, who added that as a “young professional woman” she’d like to know how Clinton handles it while “staying focused on the ‘real’ work ahead.”

Clinton agreed that it’s a problem.“Amen, sister — you’re preaching to the choir,” she wrote. “It’s a daily challenge. I do the best I can — and as you may have noticed, some days are better than others!” says though Clinton jokes about her love of pantsuits (later in the Q&A she noted she “never met a pantsuit I didn’t love”), Clinton’s decision to eschew major fashion choices puts her in line with President Obama, who told Vanity Fair in 2012 that he limits his clothing options to reduce the number of decisions he has to make in the morning.

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Paring down choices for faster decision making is a time management tip we can all use. Some people limit their clothing choices, others their breakfast choices. What do you think about limiting choices to get out the door faster or save time during the day? Do you think fashion is too important to sacrifice?


July 21, 2015

Should you check your email on Saturday?

A friend, a senior executive for a pharmaceutical company, told me he has made a rule for himself. He doesn't check email on Saturday. He said he set the rule because he would check, see an email that needed action, but felt it was wrong to reach out on the weekend to the people he needed to contact to resolve a matter. Then, he would spend his Saturday aggravated about the unresolved issue.

Since he stopped checking emails on Saturdays, he says he is more relaxed. It's like he gave himself permission to enjoy his weekends and regain some work life balance. His wife, a teacher, is more relaxed, too. She doesn't have to worry that he's going to be steamed about a work concern while they are at the beach or on their boat. 

Listening to him, his email rule made sense. It wasn't that long ago that weekends were family time. There wasn't the expectation that we would react to work concerns on a Saturday -- unless we were in the office, specifically to handle a matter. While we've built an expectation of immediacy, my friend has found waiting until Monday to resolve an issue has given him time to think it through and approach it from a well-thought-out perspective. So far, nothing has been so urgent that waiting to respond to email Sunday night or Monday morning has been a problem. 

What are your thoughts on checking emails on Saturday? For so many of us, it's become a habit. Would you be able to abide by a "No email on Saturday" policy?



July 20, 2015

Good news: CEOs say they support paternity leave





What do you want to hear first -- the good news or the bad news?


First the good news. The Miami Herald polled local CEOs about their support of paternity leave. Most say they support it. 

Here's what they had to say.....

The question: Should male employees be given the option of taking paternity leave? Does your company offer it?


Yes, they should but only for one week to support the childbearing wife. Our company does offer it.

Daniel Ades, managing partner, Kawa Capital Management


Yes. It’s a win-win when companies support employees through life issues large and small. rbb’s employee-driven workplace believes in allowing time off for both men and women.

Christine Barney, CEO, RBB Communications


Male employees should definitely have the option of taking paternity leave even if it’s only for a couple of days. When returning home after giving birth, mom needs help with the new baby and most importantly being home will allow the father to bond with the new baby in this very happy emotional time especially if it’s the first one when you go from being a couple to being a family.

Richard Behar, Founder and CEO, Capitol Clothing Corp.


Yes, only when mothers with medical reasons are not able to take care of their baby. My company offers paternity leave.

Carmen Castillo, president and CEO, SDI International


I think that on a case-by-case, male employees should be given the opportunity for paternity leave. Each family’s needs are different, and it may be that while the mother is carrying the child, the father will be the providing the primary care. It is important to maintain an open mind for the benefit of the family and the employer and do what makes the most sense.

Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner, Cervera Real Estate


Yes, of course; men are needed at home just as moms are at the start of a child’s life. We do offer it to our staff.

Pandwe Gibson, executive director, EcoTech Visions


Giving birth is an extraordinary physical and emotional experience for a woman. Maternity leave is necessary to enable women to absorb this experience while bonding with their child. I don’t think such leave is necessary for men.

Julie Grimes, managing partner, Hilton Bentley Hotel


YES and YES. Parental leave is a critical need and benefit that is offered in every industrialized country EXCEPT the U.S. We need to support programs that support families and children to create a better society for all. My Canadian nephews all took 6 months off, of the one year that Canada offers for maternity leave, to bond with their babies and claim that it was the best experience of their lives. My son works for the Department of the Navy so he also took paternity leave and LOVED it! He needed it because he had premature twins that required weeks at the hospital and at home before he could leave his family with any confidence.

Ann Machado, founder and president, Creative Staffing


No — and we don’t offer it. However, we are sympathetic to fathers of newborns and are very flexible with their schedules wherever possible.

Victor Mendelson, co-president, HEICO


Yes, as a father of two young boys, I think time off for both parents is important. We do not have a formal policy in place for paternity, but we are flexible with our new parents to work within their needs.

Nitin Motwani, managing principal, Miami Worldcenter Associates


In short, yes. At this point, we don’t offer paternity leave, but we do consider it on a case-by-case basis. We review our benefits annually and make adjustments as needed and upon request by the staff. It’s a system that works well for our restaurant and our large employee base.

Abe Ng, founder and CEO of Sushi Maki


We believe in policies that attract the best and the brightest. As a first-time parent to a 13-month-old, the difficulties that all parents face are very real to me. From a business perspective, we are always willing to work with people when they are a productive member of our community.

Todd Oretsky, co-founder, Pipeline Brickell


Yes, male employees deserve to have the time to care for a newborn or adopted child and foster that special bond that is so important in the life of a child and parent. At Miami Dade College, we offer leave (vacation, sick time and/or FMLA) to all eligible employees, and male as well as female employees may take the time to care for a child whether it is due to birth, adoption or medical issue.

Eduardo Padrón, president, Miami Dade College


Male employees should be afforded paternity time, though I think it’s at every business’ discretion to determine the appropriate leave length and compensation arrangements. Since my company is still small, we don’t have a formal policy regarding paternity leave, but we pride ourselves on being flexible about all employees’ family obligations and concerns.

Joanna Schwartz, CEO and co-founder, EarlyShares


Yes, men should have some time to bond with and assist with the family’s newest blessing. We do allow for the time, but we do not entitle it “paternity leave.”

Darryl K. Sharpton, president and CEO, The Sharpton Group


The birth of a child and the adoption of a child are transformative moments for any family and for all parents. Akerman offers our male and female lawyers paid parental leave following the birth of a child. Lawyers serving as primary care-givers are provided paid leave following the placement of a child through legal adoption.

Andrew Smulian, chairman and CEO, Akerman LLP


Family friendly policies are important for both men and women. Paternity leave is common in countries where there is a much higher level of taxation — and corresponding social benefits. We don’t have paternity or specific maternity leave; in general, staff take vacation time.

Gillian Thomas, president and CEO, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science


I believe that family, in whatever form, is very important and it’s critical parents have the opportunity to make a positive impact on his/her child. When parents are in a child’s life from the very beginning, great things happen for the family, the workplace(s) and the community: a. The child grows up feeling valued and loved; b. The workplace(s) builds a culture where family is valued; c. Not only do both parents share in the household responsibilities, but both parents take time from work, which can help with equality in the workplace; d. Feeding South Florida does allow fathers to take paternity leave.

Paco Velez, CEO, Feeding South Florida


Yes, I believe male employees should be given that option and we do offer Child Care Leave for both men and women. Even more important than offering it, companies should strive to create a culture that encourages men to take advantage of that leave. Enabling fathers to take time to bond with and care for their new child benefits not only the home and family, but also the future of the mother’s career if she chooses to have one outside of the home.

Alina Villasante, founder, Peace Love World clothing


There’s no right or wrong answer to this, but I personally do not think male employees need a paternity leave option. Therefore, it is not something we offer.

Marlon Williams, founder and CEO, Fenero


Yes, male employees should have the option. Our company is pretty progressive when it comes to family leave. We offer paid maternity/paternity leave to our employees as needed. Many of our male employees, including myself, have young children and wives who work outside of the home, so we understand the importance of having such an option available to us.

John Wood, president, Amicon Construction


Now the bad news....

Research shows only 13% of employers offer paid paternity leave,  and most men don't take paternity leave even when offered. New fathers give reasons that include stigma, guilt and fear of reprisal.

While it's great paternity leave is a topic of conversation, let's hope we see some significant changes in corporate policies and real life practices.

When dads bond with babies, it helps men feel like they are part of the team. Teamwork makes work life balance better for mom and dad.

What are your thoughts on paternity leave? While the Miami CEOs say they support it, few have policies that directly address it. Is that okay? Do we need formal policies?




July 16, 2015

How weird would it feel to do a digital detox?



Have you ever gone away for a day -- a full 24 hours -- and not checked email or Internet?

I've done it and It felt kind of strange, like I was missing out on something. But at the same time, it felt good, like I actually got something done, even if that something was a day at the beach enjoying my family. The question is...can you make it more than a day without logging on to an electronic screen? 

First of all, why should any of us try it? After all, logging on is how we do business, keep in touch with friends and let the world know what we are up to.

There are a few reasons why it's worth trying.

The first reasons is our eyes. This morning I was reading an article about why our kids need digital detox. The article suggested all the screen time might be hurting our kids development growth and their eyesight. The article even quotes an eye doctor who is seeing more children than ever before with vision problems because of too much time in front of screens. I have trouble believing these problems are confined only to children. Are we setting ourselves up for a severe case of short-sightedness as we grow older?

The next reason is our brains.  A few weeks ago I read about digital amnesia. Our addiction to our smartphones has wreaked havoc on our short term memories. Most of us can't remember basic phones for family and friends. We rely on our cellphones to keep the information on file for us. Worse, we're no longer worrying about remembering information of any sort, figuring instead that we can just go the Internet to recall a fact. Experts wonder if we will completely lose our ability to memorize.

Another reason is our anxiety level. In our increasingly tech-dependent society, the emotional stakes are high. In a survey of 1,000 people, many said they would become “overwhelmed by sadness” if they lost their phone. Some even said they’d go into a panic. I would definitely fall into that category.

Now that we know why we should cut back on screen time, we need to figure out how to do it.

I'm realistic enough to know I could never go more than a few days without connecting to the Internet. But this year while on vacation, I am going to try to go a little longer than I have in past years. And, I'm going to try to try to enforce "No Internet Saturdays." That's my version of digital detox.

Frances Booth writes in Forbes that ideal digital detox is 24 hours. She says all it takes is turning the power button to off on our digital devices. Easy! Not so easy?

She offers some steps: Remind yourself why you want to detox, choose a realistic time (not when you're super busy at work), announce it on your social media sites, plan something enjoyable to keep you focused. You might also warn your parents and friends that they shouldn’t take it personally when you don’t text them back or like their picture right away.


Give digital detox a try and let me know how it goes.  It might feel weird at first. But then, it might feel great!

July 10, 2015

Why I'm considering standing while working

My lower back is killing me. So, when I began to hear people talking about standing desks, I was intrigued. 

I thought standing while working would be tiring. But the people I spoke to who have standing desks say it's actually invigorating, especially after lunch when most of us hit our afternoon slump.

Here's my Miami Herald article on the standing desks:


Miami wealth manager Adam Carlin has a more invigorating afternoon routine than those of us who retreat to our cubicles after lunch and sink into our desk chairs. Carlin spends his afternoons on his feet at his standing desk: “I feel so much healthier.”

The emphasis on wellness outside of work has shifted inside, and desk dwellers are the new target. With research showing Americans sedentary lifestyle taking a toll on our health, a trend toward standing desks is gaining ground as the U.S. workforce continues to shift to office-based work. People who use standing desks say the benefits are fewer backaches, more energy and a boost in productivity, allowing them to leave work in better a mood and with more work completed.

To avoid foot pain, users are switching it up, opting for desks or workstations that allow them to adjust the height, either electronically or manually. Throughout the day, depending on the task, they find a comfortable balance between sitting, standing and moving.

Carlin bought his standing desk two years ago after noticing the trend had infiltrated New York’s financial offices. He initially saw a standing desk as a way to alleviate back pain, but he quickly discovered it also helped him avoid the afternoon slump. Returning from lunch, he raises his desk that holds a keyboard and two monitors and reads research or talks on the phone while standing. Carlin said it was an adjustment, at first, for his feet, but after a short while, he found that standing gives him a second wind: “It feels like it’s how I should be situated, not trapped at a desk, unable to move around.”



Once upright, most standers tend to move around their work spaces. Miami publicist Sissy DeMaria of Kreps DeMaria PR began using a standing desk two years ago. She still does tasks like writing notes or signing checks while sitting down, but she tackles other responsibilities like writing press releases or reviewing proposals while standing up. She stands most of the day and notices that she moves easily around the office and interacts more with her employees: “When you’re sitting, it’s an effort to get up out of your chair. When you are standing, it’s easy to go over to the printer or to someone’s office to ask them a question.”

The research in favor of standing desks is rising with their popularity. Experts have found the effect of sitting all day for years is associated with a range of health problems, from obesity to diabetes to cancer. One study published in the British Medical Journal found that spending less time sitting could help people live longer by preventing their DNA from aging. Another published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute contends that spending less time sitting could reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Experts quoted in the British Journal of Sports Medicine said Americans should stand, move and take breaks for at least two out of eight hours at work.

The shift to standing desks started in home offices but has spread to varied workplaces. Employers such as Google and Intel offer standing desks as part of an employee-wellness program to those workers who request them. Priority Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has given all of its 1,200 employees sit-to-stand desks. And in June, Westin launched a pilot program to offer treadmill desks to business travelers in guest rooms at its Chicago hotel.

It is difficult to quantify how large the standing desk/treadmill desk sector is, but it is growing at an impressive rate, both in terms of buyers and suppliers, according to Ron Wiener, CEO of, a manufacturer of adjustable-height standing desks, sit-stand meeting tables and treadmill desks. Weiner, who also hosts the website has a full showroom in Bellevue, Washington. “We see new vendors and new products popping up almost daily in this category,” Weiner says.

At a recent office furniture trade show, Wiener says the number of desk manufacturers that were introducing new height-adjustable versions of their office desk furniture caught attendees’ attention. “There were literally dozens of desk manufacturers and component vendors unveiling new sit-to-stand desks in every shape, color, material and size imaginable,” he says. Adjustable-height or standing desks range from about $400 to $1,000. Some companies offer conversion kits that turn a regular desk into a sit-stand desk for a price tag of around $300.

Jeanne Becker, senior vice president at Miami’s Wragg & Casas, spent months researching options before purchasing a standing desk last month. Meanwhile, she rigged her computer atop a pile of magazines to test the concept and noticed an improvement in her lower back. “It’s been a relief to stand for a while,” she says.

Of course, buying the desk is just the first step toward better health. There are people who buy a traditional sit-stand desk and don’t move it out of the sitting position after the novelty wears off, according to industry research. Now, Weiner sees innovation around the next phase: cloud-based technology that measures the time workers spent sitting or standing at their adjustable desks, prods them to stand more often, and finds user patterns. “When you have the ability for companies to tell whether this is a good investment, that’s the inflection point,” Weiner says. Already, Stir, a California manufacturer, has created a kinetic desk that tracks when you are sitting or standing and can be programmed to nudge users to stand up and move more.

For office dwellers who want more movement, treadmill desks are catching on, too. Sharlyn Lauby, owner of a South Florida management training and HR consulting firm, says that when she would get busy with work, the first thing that would go by the wayside were her trips to the gym. She bought a treadmill desk to fit exercise into her work-life balance. Now, she starts her workday with 45 minutes at her treadmill desk doing simple activities such as reading news stories, checking social media, conducting online research, and listening to webinars or podcasts. “I won’t say it’s a replacement for a desk, but it definitely is an opportunity to move more activity into my day,” she says.


Lauby recently joined a LinkedIn group for treadmill desk users. The group’s 170 members are standing or walking while working as architects, real-estate appraisers, marketing consultants, software developers, corporate trainers and high school teachers. Discussion centers on everything from the best shoes to wear or floor mat to use to where to go to try out new models. Lauby, who wrote about her new treadmill desk on her HR Bartender blog, says they may not be for everyone, but she has gotten her return on investment: “We’re all busy, so for anyone who wants more activity in their day, these desks are a great way to get it.”


July 09, 2015

Too connected? Why you need vacation rules


Earlier this week, I left a message on an accountant's voicemail asking him to call me about an article I am working on. He called me back within a few hours. Well into our conversation, he mentioned he was on vacation. It was at that point that I could hear his wife in the background and she was noticeably agitated. I suggested he call me back when he returned from vacation. When we hung up, I had a feeling he was in big trouble.

Staying connected to work may make traveling less stressful for you, but it can become annoying to people who are with you on vacation. One of my friends recently told me it was while on vacation that she realized her marriage had hit rock bottom. She couldn't get her husband off his phone long enough to do anything romantic.

My suggestion for anyone traveling with a friend, spouse, or partner is to set vacation rules. My husband and I realized years ago setting rules was key to a better vacation. I agree to let my husband check in with his office every morning. He spends about an hour on his laptop checking email and returning calls. I usually check my email less often while on vacation but I tend to do it in the late afternoons when everyone is unwinding before dinner. We each get about an hour a day without guilt. The rule also is that we leave our phones behind when we do a family activity.

Today it has become increasingly easy to integrate work and travel -- regardless of where you are vacationing. There are more hotels and cafes that offer Wi-Fi, and more mobile devices with the same functionality as desktop PCs. But that ease of connection makes being on the same page of your travel companion more important than ever. 

When the goal of a vacation is to reconnect with friends or family, it can be frustrating when your travel partner sends a different message. Your stressful interaction with work can affect those who are traveling with you. My neighbor says while on his vacation, it completely unnerved him to watch his wife's reaction to an incoming work-related email as she lounged by the pool. "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."

Companions who are with someone who resists disconnecting say they find themselves torn between bringing their vacation partner in the present and coming across as a nag. Most of us only have a week a year when we can spend solid uninterrupted time with our spouse or kids. Don't they deserve to experience us enjoying time with them?

The solution may be agreeing upfront on how, when and where work check-ins will fit into a vacation schedule. Logging on and sending emails before others awake or during rest periods in the hotel room may be palatable. Missing a mid-day, zip-line excursion or interrupting pool time to make a work call may not be okay. Setting vacation rules may require respect for your companion’s work demands and it may take compromise.

Some business owners and professionals say checking in briefly allows them to relax more. It prevents them from a stressful return to work. That's understandable. But remember, the goal is to use your vacation to come back to the office and your home life happier than before you left. If setting vacation rules ahead of time is what it takes to make that happen, why not give it try?


July 08, 2015

Carli Lloyd, US Women's Soccer Champ, envisioned her goal and we can too


For years, I've been told to envision my career goals to make them come true. 

I've been advised to create vision boards and urged to read books on the power of visualization. And still, I have resisted. I have prefered to take opportunities as they have come my way.

Not long ago, I heard comedic actor Jim Carrey talk about his experience trying to make it in Hollywood. While trying to break into acting, he says he visualized his success and wrote himself a $10 million check for acting services rendered and post dated it Thanksgiving 1995. The amazing part is that just before Thanksgiving 1995, Jim Carrey signed a contract for $10 million.

But today, I am re-committing to visualization after Carli Lloyd explained how it helped her during Sunday's championship game of the 2015 World Cup for Women's Soccer. 

Carli scored twice in the first five minutes and added a third goal roughly 10 minutes later to give her a hat trick in the game (she scored from midfield). While some were surprised at Lloyd’s scoring output for the game, Lloyd wasn’t one of them. Lloyd says that before she left for the World Cup she visualized scoring four goals in a World Cup Final. ( She scored three, but the team scored a total of four in the first half)

USWNT manager Jill Ellis also envisioned success, saying saw her US Women's team lifting the trophy at the end of the game.

While Carli stood out as a superstar, all along the players have said that teamwork and a strong belief that together they could win made their dream of being world champions come true.

For those of us who get bogged down in "doing it all" and forget to envision where we want to go, the lessons from this championship soccer team are inspiring. 

NBC Sports says Carli, who turns 33 years old this month, has evolved from an out-of-shape young player, who was cut from youth national teams and on the verge of quitting the game over a decade ago, to one of the greatest players in the history of the greatest women’s soccer program on the planet now that it has become the first nation to win three titles, in addition to four Olympic gold medals. Carli also won the Golden Ball award for the 2015 World Cup, given out on Sunday to the tournament’s best player.

NBC also called Carli  "the epitome of an athlete who is laser-focused, eyes wide and hungry at every moment on the field." Her secret for success is that she disconnects from her personal life during major tournaments and maintains minimal contact with her family and friends in order to focus solely on herself.

I think we can all learn from Carli's focus on her goals. In the age of distraction, envisioning what you want in your career and staying focused can be a big challenge. But Carli -- and her teammates -- have proved to all of us that it's worth the effort.

You still have half of 2015 left...what goal do you envision accomplishing by year end? How do you plan to stay focused on your goal?