May 11, 2017

Do you believe "boys club" environments still exist?

Good old

 

 

Women are making their way onto corporate boards. They are working in top jobs in Silicon Valley. They are heading up major departments in hospitals and becoming deans of universities. They are networking in ways they have never done so in the past, giving each other business, making introductions and investing in each other's companies.

So with all women are accomplishing, are we to believe "boys club" business environments still exist?

I would like to be in denial. I think most women, and many men, would like to be in denial as well. But the headlines force us to think otherwise.

Today's headline is the latest example. South Florida tech firm, Magic Leap, has settled a lawsuit with Tannen Campbell, who says she was brought in by the CEO to make the  company less of a "boys club." Yet, her mission didn't go well. In a lawsuit, she claimed that Magic Leap's top management did not include females and the company ignored efforts to hire more women were met with resistance. Even worse, she claimed that the corporate culture is one of "macho bullying" where women's work and ideas are ridiculed openly and their opinions ignored in favor of those of their male counterparts.

Campbell reached a confidential settlement in her gender bias lawsuit this week. Still, the details of the suit gave the public a glimpse into the inner workings of a cutting-edge technology company and a corporate culture that frankly, turns my stomach, and frankly prohibits this company from reaching greatness.

I'm not just tossing out some "I am woman, hear me roar" rhetoric.  The facts speak louder than I do. 

The study on gender diversity by Marcus Noland, Tyler Moran, and Barbara Kotschwar for the Peterson Institute for International Economics released in 2016 says there is a positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and performance "in a magnitude that is not small."  The study found that having a woman in an executive position leads to better performance, with the more women the better.

Yet, even as research shows companies perform better when they include women in leadership, we continually learn of workplaces where men don't want to include them -- at least not at the higher levels.

The Magic Leap lawsuit is merely the latest. A year ago (May 2016), a senior female fixed-income banker at Bank of America Corp. filed a lawsuit accusing the bank of underpaying her and other women, and retaliating when she complained about illegal or unethical practices by her colleagues. She also accused the bank of condoning bias by her boss that made her feel unwelcome in his “subordinate ‘bro’s club’ of all-male sycophants.” Then in November, a former employee of Citigroup accused that bank of being a “boys’ club” that paid women like her less, denied her equal opportunities for promotion, and then penalized her for speaking up about potential gender discrimination.

I don't know the validity of these lawsuits, I just know they exist. I also know that Glassdoor.com, a website that encourages employee reviews, is littered with employee claims that all types of businesses have leadership teams and corporate cultures that reflect "boys clubs."

So even while I want to be in denial, I can't. The boys club thinking that existed decades ago remains intact in some workplaces. But it doesn't have to continue.

We change it by challenging it in court, by taking our business elsewhere, by telling the men in our lives that it wrong to be a part of it, by encouraging women to speak up when they see it happening, by making the business case for promoting women into leadership and by pointing out the consequences and the effect on morale when women are excluded. 

It's unlikely we will eliminate these "boys clubs" completely. But by acknowledging they exist and vowing to work toward change, we are on our way to making a difference.

May 10, 2017

Why you need to work for a boss who exercises

Corp wellness

I have always been envious of people who work for companies with onsite gyms. However, I was most impressed when the facility director told me most managers at the hospital encourage their employees to exercise during their workdays. In fact, the managers are evaluated on how actively they promote wellness in their departments, she told me. How great would that be to have a boss who is cool with a little longer lunch if it means coming back with a clear focus?

My husband spends his lunch hour at the gym near his office. Because he is a manager, his example has encouraged others at his company to exercise at lunch time, too. Like most other office dynamics, even fitness starts at the top. For all of the time and money businesses spent on corporate wellness, it seems pretty straightforward that the biggest enticement is a manager who believes in fitness and leads his team by example.

Boss

Most of us know that exercise is important for our physical and mental health. The challenge is finding the time for it when we are struggle with work life balance. When I'm stressed and overwhelmed, exercise is the first thing to go. But if I had a role model at work, someone who took fitness breaks even during the most stressful times and encouraged me to do so, I think it would change my mindset.

So am I saying that it's my boss' job to motivate me to exercise? No, that's not exactly what I'm saying. Instead, I'm saying that those people in a position to lead by example or influence others to embrace fitness, should make a conscious effort to do so -- the payoff will be huge in terms of productivity. 

Look around your office around 4 p.m. Who is hitting the snack machine or grabbing another cup of coffee and who seems to have the stamina to make it through the afternoon? I bet the person who worked out at lunchtime is the one with stamina. I bet the boss who worked out is a lot more patient with his team. I bet the overweight boss who hasn't exercised in a year is not the one who employees will go the extra mile to please.

Researchers have found that people who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle tough tasks. They felt better prepared for the challenges of the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work. As researchers put it, "an hour of exercise creates a feeling that lasts well beyond that hour spent at the gym." 

We definitely are seeing more of an emphasis from employers on wellness in the workplace. Now, if we can get more managers to offer some flexibility around exercise routines and be supportive of wellness efforts, I think more of us would embrace a workout when we feel stressed. In the end, everyone benefits. With that conclusion, I'm heading to the gym!

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 19, 2017

Whose Career Suffers More From Childcare Responsibilities?

Hub wife


Last week, I sat in an office waiting to be called in for an annual parent teacher conference and checking my watch. My son is doing well in school so the conference was purely for administrators to check off boxes. The longer I sat, the more anxious I felt about the work I should be finishing and the deadlines approaching.

I pictured my husband in his office, being productive, and I stewed.

Over our years of raising children, as child care needs have cropped up, my husband and I have negotiated who would handle them. The negotiations often turn into arguments over who has more on their plate, more flexibility at work, and inevitably, whose salary is more critical to our household income.

More often, the negotiations (arguments) end when I agree to "take one for the team." Some days, I resent it.

My friends in households with two working parents tell me they, too, struggle with sharing family responsibilities 50-50. A teacher friend told me she has used up her allotted days off staying home with her sick son who has been battling bronchitis off and on almost the entire school year. Her husband claims his boss will dock him pay if he misses a day of work. She's worried she is about to lose her position as grade leader. Being there for a child and living up to the demands of bosses and clients is no easy feat for a mom or dad. Although men are taking on more childcare responsibility, women still "take one for the team" more often. 

Lately, I've been surprised at how much this inequality bothers men in supervisory roles.  A male friend who manages a radio station recently complained about a mother on his staff who has had to leave early several times in the last few weeks to handle childcare emergencies. "Why doesn't her husband take a turn?" he asked me. "Yeah, why doesn't he?" I responded, wondering if this situation would make my friend any more likely to pitch in with childcare emergencies in his household.

Unfortunately, when mothers take time off to handle childcare needs too frequently, they are viewed as uncommitted to their jobs or not serious about their careers. It is the reason more of us are looking carefully at flexibility in our workplaces and resources our employers provide such as paid sick leave.

So, I'm wonder what your thoughts are on taking one for the team. Is this something you argue about with your significant other? How do you think who takes one for the team should be decided? Do you take one for the team more often than your spouse and end up resenting it?

April 17, 2017

How to Avoid Judging other Working Mothers?

                                                         Momsss

Yesterday I was at the gym when I overheard a conversation between two mothers. One was telling the other that she had just seen her friend Susie was surprised to see her exercising. She whispered loudly to the other: "She's always working. She never sees her kids."

I listened in disbelief. I wanted to shout, "Really? She never sees her kids?" Even moms who work ungodly hours see their kids sometimes.

Maybe the woman does work a lot. Maybe she doesn't see her children as often as a non working mother. But when someone works a lot, exercising is the outlet he or she often needs to be more patient with their kids when they do spend time with them. 

If a father was at the gym exercising, would other dads whisper to each other, "What's he doing here? He never sees his kids."

I don't think so.

C'mon ladies we need to stop judging other mothers. In 2015—the year for which the most recent data are available—42 percent of mothers were sole or primary breadwinners, bringing in at least half of family earnings, according to the Center for American Progress. The reality is the majority of mothers contribute significantly to their families’ bottom lines. Along with making dough comes responsibility and long hours, which means more moms must sacrifice time with their families.

It is a testament to the hard work and tenacity of women that they have reached the level they occupy today. The flip side is that while working mothers are traveling for work, attending meetings and landing promotions, more fathers, grandparents and babysitters are picking up the childcare responsibilities and we need to be okay with that without passing judgment.

Yes, some mothers prefer to be at work than be home with their children. Some fathers do, too. It doesn't mean these parents don't love their children. Neglect is a different thing altogether, and I don't condone it. But parents who gain fulfillment from working yet still want to be a good parent deserve more from us than judgment. 

Let's encourage working mothers to practice self care. 

Let's support mothers who put in long hours.

Let's let other people choose how they prioritize without judging them.

Let's help other working mothers when we see opportunities.

Next time you're at at the gym and see a stressed working mother who is decompressing, cheer her on. Not only will she benefit, her children will, too. In the end, we all prosper when a working mother succeeds.

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? 

 

April 04, 2017

What Equal Pay Day Means for Our Daughters

Today is Equal Pay Day. It's the day to bring attention to the pay disparity between men and women.

The reality is that most workplaces won't acknowledge it. Regardless, it is the most important day of the year for women. Today is the day when real change happens because of small actions and big resolve. It's the day when we focus attention on making the workplace better for our daughters, our nieces, our granddaughters. 

By now, women have been in the workplace for decades, holding high level jobs, becoming bosses and running large agencies. In many workplaces, they are the human resources directors who do the hiring. Why then, do women still earn on average 20 percent less than men for the same jobs? (Click here to see how your state stacks up against the pay gap)

Yesterday, I heard actress Gina Rodriguez speak on television about her partnership with LUNA nutrition bars to drive awareness for the pay gap. Listening to Gina, what I liked most about what she said was her plan. Instead of just urging employers to do something about the pay gap or pushing for legislation -- two strategies that haven't been enough --Gina talked about how LUNA is sponsoring AAUW Work Smart salary negotiation workshops for women across the country.

LUNA and AAUW are working to close the pay gap one workshop at a time by empowering women to negotiate their salary and benefits packages. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

“We know that salary negotiation is not the only variable in the gender pay gap, but it is true that women tend not to negotiate, and that affects their earnings all the way through to retirement," AAUW Board Chair Patricia Fae Ho said. “We are so grateful to have LUNA’s support spreading our negotiation workshops, because we know how well they work. We hear from women every day that they used what they learned in AAUW Work Smart immediately – and that it worked!”

I look around me and I see many women working the same long hours as men, and putting their passion into their jobs. We all know it's not acceptable that they earn less for men, particularly as they struggle with trying to raise families and serve as role models, too. Working women first need to pay more attention to who gets hired and at what salary and speak up for change. More important, we need to put the power to eliminate the pay gap it in the hands of our daughters by showing them how to ask for what they deserve at the beginning of their careers. We can rally for brands like LUNA to bring attention to champion women's equality. We can have conversations with the young women in our lives about how and why to go after any job they want, research what the men in the job are paid, and have the confidence to negotiate salary and benefits. We can even take those young women with us to a workshop. Here's the link to free workshops across the U.S.

The AAUW website offers some other actions: Bring a workshop to a campus or community. Sign up to become an AAUW salary negotiation ambassador to help spread the word, or train to become an AAUW salary negotiation facilitator so that you can take the reins in empowering women.

Today is a day in which small actions count. Take them for the young women in your lives. You can help close the pay gap and this is the time to do it.

 

 

 

March 21, 2017

What It's Really Like Working From Home

 

                                             Work

 

It's noon, and I'm still in my pajamas, trying desperately to finish my article and take a shower. I work from home and why it sounds awesome, it isn't always awesome. Sticking to a routine isn't always easy.  I never have to fight traffic, which is a huge benefit. But I also have to make an effort to keep to a routine and sometimes I have to fight the feeling of isolation. Today, my guest blogger weighs in with his thoughts on working from home and the surprising results of a new study on remote working.

Let me introduce you to Dan Schwabel.  Dan has tons of knowledge at his fingertips. He's a guru on personal branding and an expert on millennials in the workplace. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0, and the Research Director at Future Workplace.  I think you're going to enjoy his perspective:

 

 

Dan_schawbel_outside
Dan Schawbel enjoys working from home


 

After I graduated college back in 2006, I landed my first full-time corporate job at a Fortune 200 company. As an introvert who needs space in order to think creatively and be productive, I always wanted the flexibility to work remote but never received that benefit. In fact, after my third role at the company, as their first social media specialist, I was told that I would have to run the social media accounts from the office daily. I once asked my manager if I could work from home at least part-time and he said “we can’t allow for that because it will make your colleagues jealous”. After I quit my job to start my own company, I finally was in a position to work remote seven days a week.

I’ve now been working from home almost full-time for over six years. I’m not alone in my quest for a more flexible work life. After interviewing over 25,000 employees globally, in partnership with Polycom, our study found that about three in every four employees say their company offers flexible working and almost a third regularly work remote. The emergence of collaborative technologies has enabled the remote workforce, lowering commuting costs and empowering people with the freedom to manage their personal and professional life.  

The main finding from the study is that remote work is driving people to pick up the phone more and focus on personal relationships. I see this with my organization, as I feel the need to schedule more phone meetings in order to have a human connection despite being alone in my New York apartment. While working from home can be isolating, it can also be freeing but you have to manage your time wisely because no one else will hold you accountable but you.

In order to be successful working from home, I created my own daily habits that allow me to focus on the right work at the right time and take the necessary breaks so that I can incorporate my interests, friends and family into my life. For instance, every morning I wake up, cook breakfast while Amazon Alexa tells me the weather forecast, political news and HBR’s daily tip. Then, I focus on the most critical work first because I’m more productive earlier in the day. I’ll then take a coffee break, workout or go to lunch with one of my contacts. From there, I get right back to work before I make dinner or go to a local networking event. By creating, and committing to, a daily routine it can help you incorporate all aspects of your life that are important to you.

While I felt more isolated working independently over the years, now that I have a team, it has forced me to pick up the phone more, go to the office at least a few times each month and have some constant interactions each day. By feeling more connected to others, and having a support system, it’s had a positive impact on both my work and personal life.

Remote workers don’t have to struggle when it comes to maintaining balance and strong relationships. What they do have to do is put together a plan, establish daily habits and answer the most important question “what matters to me?” Once you decide what you care about, incorporate those activities and people into your daily life.

 

 

Here are some interesting quotes on the findings of the remote working survey:


Quotes

“There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about.”

– Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace 

 “We predicted that 2016 would be the ‘year of video’, and it’s satisfying to know that people are starting to adopt this way of working. What it also tells us is that more businesses need to be able to offer collaboration tools - to enable that human contact that people crave - or risk losing out to those businesses who are able to offer flexibility and have access to talent and retain talent as a result.”

 – Mary McDowell, CEO, Polycom
 

 

 

March 13, 2017

Exhausted at work? How to survive the change to Daylight Savings Time

 

                                                                  Tired

 

This morning I woke up in the pitch dark. I looked outside wanted to go back to bed. My clock said it was time to wake up but my body did not agree. Ugh... Daylight Savings Time just robbed us of an hour of precious, glorious sleep.

Today, I'm dragging myself around sleep deprived. The worst part is some experts say this groggy jet lacked feeling could last all week.

Yep, that's right...we might be exhausted ALL WEEK.

The worst part is that many people already were exhausted.  Losing an hour of sleep will mean an already tired workforce will be working on even less shut-eye, says Anna Kwok, vice president for Accountemps in Fort Lauderdale, an accounting staffing agency. A study from staffing firm Accountemps found 74% of professionals admitted to already being tired at work, with nearly one-third saying they’re short on sleep very often.

When we're tired at work, we're less focused, more grumpy and stand more of a chance of making stupid mistakes. In the Accountemps survey one really tired respondent admitted to deleting a project that took 1,000 hours to put together. Another admitted to falling asleep in front of the boss during a presentation. So embarrassing!

Some people are lucky enough to work at companies, like Ben & Jerry's, Google and Zappos, that  encourage napping on the job to promote psychological and professional benefits. I bet those nap rooms are going to be busy today!

The rest of us have to find some other way to fight that tired feeling. Here are some ideas:

  • Take occasional breaks. Get away from your desk and walk around the office.
  • Resist cravings for junk food. Instead, keep healthy snacks around to give you stamina
  • Stay hydrated. It is a key factor in staying awake. Try putting ice in your water bottle; the cold water will keep you lively and alert.
  • Work reasonable hours. This is not the week for launching new all-encompassing projects. Staying late while you get adjusted to the time change can lead to mistakes. 
  • Sit up. Slouching can lead to fatigue.
  • Use eyedrops. Splashing a couple drops in your eyes will make you feel more refreshed
  • Tug on your earlobes. Yes, this sounded crazy to me, too, when I heard it. But because of acupoints on your ears, this is a way to get the brain going. Worth a try.

(If you need them, there are more ideas at popsugar.com)

As you reach for another cup of coffee today, be patient with yourself. It may take a few days to get your body clock back on track. In the meantime, I'm going to go to bed earlier tonight and I'm going to try to follow Taylor Swift's advice  and  "shake It off."

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 10.02.14 AMC

 

 

Click here for full infographic...

March 01, 2017

Getting Ready to Become a Working Mother

It was 21 years ago when I waddled into the newsroom wondering how much longer I could hold on at work until my daughter was born. I desperately wanted to work until the last possible minute, particularly because I had no idea what my life as a working mother was going to be like. Getting ready to become a working mother is tricky. As they say, no one can fully prepare you for what's ahead. By the second week of March I had given birth and the work life balancing act had begun.

Today, my guest blogger shares her experience and perspective as she prepares to become a new mother while continuing to practice law.  Let me introduce you to Laura E. Eggnatz, an associate with Shapiro, Blasi, Wasserman & Hermann, one of the largest independent full-service litigation and transactional law firms in South Florida. Laura focuses her practice on products liability and mass and toxic torts defense litigation. Connect with Laura at leggnatz@sbwh.law. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with her on life as a new mom.

 

 

Laura E. Eggnatz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been an attorney for almost eight years, and now, as I set out to embark on my career as a first-time mother, I am finding that while pregnancy is without a doubt an amazing and brilliant experience, it is also one of the most stressful. As my due date rapidly approaches and my legal career will be put on hold for a few months, one of the biggest stressors is preparing for maternity leave and figuring out how I will balance the most important aspects of my life—a new baby, my role as a new mother, and a legal career—while still out on leave. I am planning to use the preparation skills I have learned, enhanced and utilized as an attorney to juggle this difficult balance. I offer some suggestions to those in a similar position as me:

1. Prepare an exit plan: I am protective of the work I do, and tend to shy away from relying on others. Yet I recognize I will have no choice when I am out of the office for three months. To combat this struggle, I am creating a spreadsheet of all ongoing matters I expect will require coverage and attention while I am out. I also have had conversations with my supervisors and staff about handling my day-to-day responsibilities. Delegation and learning to “let-go” is key. Having some coverage system in place will ensure an easy transition before, during and after my maternity leave.

2. Prepare to stay informed: Most people would encourage a new mother to completely disconnect from work while on maternity leave. That is not something I can do. Although I do not anticipate performing any substantive work, I plan to review my e-mails and stay in touch with my colleagues on a basis that is appropriate and convenient for me. I feel more comfortable with having some contact during leave, rather than being completely out of touch. Even limited communication will be beneficial to a smooth transition back to work.

3. Prepare a return plan: I anticipate experiencing mixed feelings about returning to work when the end of my maternity leave approaches. Here lies the majority of the work-life balance struggle: How can I leave my newborn?  How will I be able to handle a newborn and a career?  How can I be a good mom and a good attorney at the same time? The answers to these questions are unknown to me right now, and may very likely go unanswered. But a flexible plan in returning to work may make all the difference. Before my leave, I will discuss my timeline with my supervisors for returning to work and be upfront about what my work limitations may be once I return, i.e., less travel, doctor’s appointments, working from home when baby is sick. Staying connected and informed throughout my leave is a key aspect of my return plan. For me, this will lessen the overwhelming feeling of getting up to speed after being away and understanding the workload I will have to balance once I return.

4. Prepare for the unexpected: I may sound like I have everything under control—I certainly do not. Part of my preparation for maternity leave is preparing for the unexpected. I am confident that as long as I am prepared and do what I feel comfortable with, the stress in balancing a family and a career during maternity leave will be manageable.