August 05, 2017

Inside a food truck and the struggle for work life balance

One day, I was walking around the Wynwood Second Saturday Art Walk when I came across Michael Kritikos and his The Original Greek food truck. His gyros were yummy and his smile was big, so I decided to find out a little more about the highs and lows of operating a food truck in South Florida.

Is it fun? What are the challenges? Do the rewards outweigh the challenges? Most important, how does a food truck owner find work life balance when every minute you are cooking and serving is money in your pocket and time off is lost income?

Michael had just returned from his first vacation in many years and had a lot to say about the challenges of running a mobile food business and balancing a personal life.

DSC_3143

Here is Michael set up and ready to serve his yummy Greek food at Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walk. You can tell from this photo that he loves what he does for a living.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2017

Miami Lawyer Talks Work Life Balance and Pursuing Personal Passions

"If only I had time."

Often, people will talk to me about their passion or a hobby they want to pursue. They follow it by saying, "If I only had time." As I get older, I realize that we never FIND time for what we enjoy doing, we MAKE time.

Today, my guest blogger is Michael Reppas, a UM law school grad, practicing trial lawyer with Reppas Law , published author of 10 articles and book, antiquities expert on the theft of the Parthenon Scriptures, and a recording artist musician who just released an album, “Reppas” which can be heard on Spotify here. He is thoroughly involved in his Greek community in South Florida especially his church community. He also has published a book sold on Amazon and formed a music company with its own website, www.reppas.org. He does all of these things while practicing law.  

He clearly is someone who MAKES time for what he enjoys. 

I feel fortunate to have Michael Reppas share his insight for how he balances his job and his passions in life.

 

 

By Michael Reppas

RetouchedfinalcoverCROPED

 

Passion is not, necessarily, a blind and all consuming fervor that takes you over like a lunatic. It can be a motivating feeling that is slow and controlled and which leads you on a steady path forward. Never letting you forget what drives and compels you. Always there in the back of your mind. Always there while you are working every day from 8 to 6, or cutting grass on Saturday morning, or taking your kids to practice.  For me, I hear music in the written word and I am driven to tell my stories. I tell them through history lectures, through legal arguments, through historical fiction ---  and through lyrics and music. 

The question I invariably hear from my friends, colleagues, legal clients and (occasional) fans who read or listen to one of my works of music is this: “How do you find the time to do it?” My honest reply is the same: I don’t know, I just do it. And that answer is the absolute truth.

I am compelled to tell my stories. That is what fuels me and gives me balance. My chosen career as a trial lawyer is patently stressful. My home life is incredibly busy. There is very little “me” time, but I carve it out somehow. Every day I work on edits to my book or lyrics. I sing in the car (yes, I am the guy next to you playing air drums and singing his heart out).  I schedule a session with my producer at the studio once a month to get another song out.  Slowly and methodically I push forward to tell my stories. I never stop and I approach every day with the belief that, one way or another, I am going to make progress on my project du jour, and I do my very best to reach that goal every day. 

I have come to accept that, for now, I will simply not have a full and uninterrupted day to work on one of my passion projects and probably won’t until I retire. That being said, I am not willing or able to wait for a tomorrow that may never come, so I push myself every day. I let my soul breathe a little every day through writing and music.  It is how I meditate.  How I find balance.  It is how I survive in my busy and stressful life.  Without the creative element of storytelling in my life, I would not be whole. Without it, I would not be me.

Miami Lawyer Talks Work Life Balance and Pursuing Personal Passions

"If only I had time."

Often, people will talk to me about their passion or a hobby they want to pursue. They follow it by saying, "If I only had time." As I get older, I realize that we never FIND time for what we enjoy doing, we MAKE time.

Today, my guest blogger is Michael Reppas, a UM law school grad, practicing trial lawyer with Reppas Law , published author of 10 articles and book, antiquities expert on the theft of the Parthenon Scriptures, and a recording artist musician who just released an album, “Reppas” which can be heard on Spotify here. He is thoroughly involved in his Greek community in South Florida especially his church community. He also has published a book sold on Amazon and formed a music company with its own website, www.reppas.org. He does all of these things while practicing law.  

He clearly is someone who MAKES time for what he enjoys. 

I feel fortunate to have Michael Reppas share his insight for how he balances his job and his passions in life.

 

 

By Michael Reppas

RetouchedfinalcoverCROPED

 

Passion is not, necessarily, a blind and all consuming fervor that takes you over like a lunatic. It can be a motivating feeling that is slow and controlled and which leads you on a steady path forward. Never letting you forget what drives and compels you. Always there in the back of your mind. Always there while you are working every day from 8 to 6, or cutting grass on Saturday morning, or taking your kids to practice.  For me, I hear music in the written word and I am driven to tell my stories. I tell them through history lectures, through legal arguments, through historical fiction ---  and through lyrics and music. 

The question I invariably hear from my friends, colleagues, legal clients and (occasional) fans who read or listen to one of my works of music is this: “How do you find the time to do it?” My honest reply is the same: I don’t know, I just do it. And that answer is the absolute truth.

I am compelled to tell my stories. That is what fuels me and gives me balance. My chosen career as a trial lawyer is patently stressful. My home life is incredibly busy. There is very little “me” time, but I carve it out somehow. Every day I work on edits to my book or lyrics. I sing in the car (yes, I am the guy next to you playing air drums and singing his heart out).  I schedule a session with my producer at the studio once a month to get another song out.  Slowly and methodically I push forward to tell my stories. I never stop and I approach every day with the belief that, one way or another, I am going to make progress on my project du jour, and I do my very best to reach that goal every day. 

I have come to accept that, for now, I will simply not have a full and uninterrupted day to work on one of my passion projects and probably won’t until I retire. That being said, I am not willing or able to wait for a tomorrow that may never come, so I push myself every day. I let my soul breathe a little every day through writing and music.  It is how I meditate.  How I find balance.  It is how I survive in my busy and stressful life.  Without the creative element of storytelling in my life, I would not be whole. Without it, I would not be me.

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...

February 21, 2017

Don't let it end with Valentine's Day! How to fit romance into your work life balance

 

 

Romance

 

As we look back at Valentine's Day through our rearview mirror,  I feel a little glum. The roses are now on sale. The chocolate filled hearts are half price. And the tips on how to add romance into my life are no longer flowing into my inbox.

Yet, I want romance all year long. That’s not an easy task when most American workers find their work and home lives are blending together and work life balance is harder than ever to achieve.  Even after putting in a full day of work, the typical chaos is underway at my home. I am scrambling to come up with an easy dinner, my husband’s cell phone is buzzing with work emergencies and our son needs to be shuttled to and from school for his team practices every night.

That doesn’t exactly set the tone for romance.

I look to Kathryn Sansone for inspiration. Kathryn, a mother of 10, wrote a book called Woman First, Family Always: Real-life Wisdom from a Mother of Ten.

Years ago, I met Kathryn in person and she told me: ``Jim and I always carve out time for just the two of us. It's not always easy, but we don't waste time trying to figure out if we deserve it.''  Kathryn told me she and her husband make coffee breaks their ''alone time.'' At least once a week, after the younger kids go to bed, they slip out for coffee and give each other their undivided attention.

Late night coffee breaks? That actually sounds kinds of romantic.

If Kathryn can make alone time with ten kids in her home, I can too. And, so can you.

Recently, my husband and I went to a Friday night happy hour. We hadn’t been to happy hour in a long time. We drank fruity cocktails, and laughed about all the silly things that happened that week. Spending time together in a fun setting without interruptions felt so wonderful.

Lately, my husband and I have been taking walks together after dinner for about 10 to 15 minutes. We leave our phones at home. Those 10 minutes have become my favorite time of the day. 

Years ago, a love coach told me that everyone should make five to 10 minutes a day to give their spouse or significant other their undivided attention. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but most of us don’t do it.

Making time for intimacy requires turning off the TV or putting down your iPad, facing your partner and saying, "What would you like to talk about?" or “Tell me something good about your day.” Giving your partner your 100 percent attention will make him or her feel loved and important to you. That usually is how romance starts -- and how it lasts.

September 08, 2016

Patrick Dempsey On How to Set Marriage As a Priority

One of the most difficult things in a romantic partnership is staying on the same page throughout life, particularly as we navigate work life balance. Sometimes as you go through phases of life, your priorities are different from your significant other's, they just are. And that's when keeping the relationship strong gets tricky.

I loved the interview with Patrick Dempsey in People Magazine that addressed his struggling marriage and how he has worked on keeping it, rather than giving up. 

Patrick-dempsey-435x580

Here are a few quotes from the interview that spoke volumes about setting priorities:

 "It's always destabilizing when you're potentially breaking up a family or you have a big section of your life that's ending. Everybody has their own path," says Dempsey, 50. "Jill and I decided it was time to work on our issues and improve. We wanted to be role models for our kids like, okay, if you have differences, you can work them out."

People explained that Dempsey, who left Grey's Anatomy in April 2015, also began to pull back from his passion for car racing, in order to devote more time to his family.

"You can only do one thing at a time and do it well," he says. "I [learned] to prioritize. Our union has to be the priority. I wasn't prepared to give up on her and she wasn't either. We both wanted to fight for it." "

Now, Dempsey refers to his marriage as a "new beginning," and says he's learned what it takes to keep his relationship strong.

"You've got to keep at it," he says. "You've got to communicate, and stay open and not get lazy. And not give up. And lots of sex!"

By the way, Dempsey is in Bridget Jones's Baby, out Sept. 16. 

See full interview here

 

 

 

 

September 02, 2016

How to find work life balance during Labor Day Weekend

                                               Chair

 

Here it is, the weekend we've been waiting for...three days of fun with friends, family or a romantic interest. 

Now, it's time for your confession....will you spend time this weekend looking at email, thinking about work or fretting about what awaits you on Tuesday morning?

Don't do it! 

Now, that's a lot easier for me to say than it is for you to do. Still, here are my 5 tips to find work life balance during the holiday weekend:

 

1. Stay present in the moment: If you respond to emails and texts while doing an activity with a friend, family member or boyfriend, you’re not really with them. Your divided attention works against you and forces you to be two places at once. Do one thing at a time, and stay mindful about that one thing. You will enjoy your weekend so much more!

2. Prioritize fun. Something you will try to tackle this weekend is probably not a real priority. Ask yourself which mundane tasks can wait so you can get to those that are more enjoyable.

3. Block off time for something special. What is something you've been putting off all year because you just were too busy? If that's a book you want to read, start it this weekend. If it's a movie you've wanted to watch, do it. If it's a television you want to binge, no harm in pulling an all nighter like you did when you were a kid. There's no better time than a long weekend to get to the task that will bring you joy.

4. Work toward a goal. If you have something big you want to accomplish, use the holiday weekend to take a small step to move forward. You don't have to run an entire marathon, but if that's your goal, run a mile and end the holiday weekend with a sense of accomplishment.

5. Be positive and worry free. Put your worries and negativity into a shoebox for the weekend. Agree with all those you come in contact with to be in vacation mode and think only positive thoughts. If you're used to working all the time, it can feel stressful to let go for a few days. Tell yourself everything will be okay and everyone else is powering down, too. 

For many of us, this weekend really is the end of summer. Enjoy all that it represents and don't feel guilty! Happy Labor Day!

 

Timetorelax
 

 

 

 

 

August 29, 2016

How to survive back-to-school as a working parent

Sommer davis
(Sommer Davis and her family/ Photo by Shannon Kaestle)

 

For years, I've heard people say it takes a village to raise a child. Most working parents will agree with that statement. But I haven't read much on how to build your village. So this week in my Miami Herald column, I set out to help working parents build a support team for a better work life balance.

If you're a mother or father trying to adapt to a new school routine, here is where you should look to build your support team:

Workplace: The least-stressed working parents have their employers on their team. In fact, at least 4-in-10 mothers and fathers say they cannot be successful as parents without a supportive boss, according to Bright Horizons’ Modern Family Index, a 2014 survey of 1,005 American parents who work at least part time.

When the boss is not understanding, try to find co-workers who you can rely on in a pinch. Barbara Baker, an assistant in a Cutler Ridge medical office, remembers the day she needed to attend an unscheduled parent-teacher conference but saw a line of patients waiting to be checked in. Her co-worker, another working mom, stepped up and filled in.

Community: Many working parents reach into the community to build their team by joining carpools, courting neighbors and trading favors with other parents and friends. A parent who travels often for work may ask for help driving their child to after-school activities in exchange for doing a weekend pickup from a “Sweet 16” party, for example.

 

Peggy Sapp, president and CEO of Informed Families, suggests take time now to build connections: “Some people think they are too busy, but it is worth it to take time at the beginning of school. Introduce yourself to other parents or offer to meet over coffee at Starbucks. Anything you can do to create a bond now is going to make it easier than a cold-call later when you need some help.”

Family: With nearly 70 percent of mothers in the workforce, you and your spouse need to work as a well-functioning team. Today more fathers are helping to make dinner, pick up kids from school, or even leave work early to handle emergencies. For others, family members such as grandparents or aunts are critical to their support team. Don't feel bad asking a family member for help, often they enjoy the time with their young family members.

Sommer Davis says her husband, Lawrence, a long-distance truck driver, is on the road for months at a time. For Davis, raising two daughters and succeeding as a public information officer for the Miami-Dade County Water & Sewer Department requires her parents’ involvement. "I am fortunate I am able to rely on them for assistance,” Davis says.

School: You might want to make your child's teacher part of your team, too.  On back-to-school night, put teachers’ contact information into your phone, along with contact information for after-school providers, bus drivers, coaches and any other school faculty who you can call for help. Some teachers will allow a helpful child (or teen) to stay in their classrooms after school for a short while.

As this school year kicks off, start now to assemble your team. You may need it sooner than you  think.

 

 

 

 

 

August 04, 2016

Do we work as much as we think we do?

Keyboard

(Photo by Jay LaPrete AP)

 
 

 

If you're like me, you feel like you're working A LOT. But are you as overworked as you think you are?

According to the American Time Use Survey, full time workers only put in about 40 hours a week, and only five minutes more a week than a decade ago.

What it doesn't account for, though, is how we work.

In this hyper-connected age, working hours might still be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the hours to do work can stretch from midnight to midnight, with emails zipping through the ether at the convenience of the sender, but not necessarily the recipient, as noted by Nick Coltrain of the Coloradoan

I don't know about you, I tend to interval work, which means I switch from task to task at home and the office, taking care of personal responsibilities and work responsibilities as needed. If your workday is anything like mine, you might sit down in front of your computer screen to start a project and become distracted by a new email. Then, you might work for an hour, and take a quick break to check Facebook.

The switching between personal and business tasks at the workplace has become so habitual that some researchers believe Americans spend as much as two hours of an eight-hour workday doing non-work tasks, whether or not we realize it. Two hours is a lot isn't it? Of course, no one can work 8 hours straight without going crazy. We all need breaks!

I think what makes me feel like I'm working so much is that even when I am at home and not actually working, I still feel the tug of work on my brain. It's that always on feeling that researchers say creates chronic stress and emotional exhaustion.

In our desire for work/life balance, it's just as difficult to know how much time we spend on leisure activities as work tasks, in part because of the increase in smartphone use. The American Time Use Survey shows Americans spend about five hours a day doing leisure activity, with television watching accounting for more than half of that time. However, many people watch television with their mobile devices in hand and sporadically check work email.

When employers ask workers to manually track their work time, productivity improves, according to Fred Krieger, CEO of Scoro, a San Francisco productivity/project management software firm. If you really tracked the hours you work, how much do you think it would add up to? Do you consider multi-tasking -- watching television and checking email to be work or leisure time? It's kind of tricky, isn't it? But if we can improve our productivity by tracking our time, it might be worth doing.

What do you think your time diary would reveal?