April 12, 2016

Mompreneur? How to launch a product and pull off work life balance

Today my guest blogger is a Latina mother, Priska Diaz, who came to America at 17 from Peru, not knowing a word of English. She worked three jobs to put herself through college, and then earned a  master’s degree in packaging design from Pratt. 

When she had her first child, Priska attempted to breastfeed and after a week was told to supplement with bottle feeding. From there, an idea grew!  Priska walked the floors and streets (and eyed the ceiling) while her newborn son screamed with gas after bottle-feeding. Her infant so became colicky, she spent years redesigning the baby bottle, using the principle of a syringe so there is not a drop of air inside, and a patented nipple to avoid breast confusion. The result? A million sold, and they are just hitting Babies R Us this month.

I asked Priska to tell us what it's like to secure funding, launch a product, raise children, and keep your sanity. Here is her story:

 

Cropped

After waiting together for the bus at the corner with my son Carlton, now 8, and Adriana, 7, and reviewing in my head the schedule for getting two kids to and from school/doctors appointments/playdates, I run to Home Depot to prepare for the afternoon.

My chaotic life: Grabbing liquid nails, screws, six-inch planks of MDF, I run home to use my tiny electric handheld saw to turn the lot into a radiator shelf, painted white to match the kitchen. I also make a pit stop at the Stop N Shop to buy frozen pizza dough and corn starch.

Today’s after school activities: making pizza dough, and homemade Play Doh using corn starch, and of course, making a big mess on the kitchen table. I assign the kids tasks while I run to my laptop to communicate with the Babies R Us buyer, do my invoicing and process orders. I love arts and crafts. I came to New York from Peru when I was 17 and spoke no English, worked three jobs to put myself through college and got a masters in packaging design from Pratt, spending six years on assorted “craft” projects.

The idea: At 32, when I had my son Carlton, I got out the Krazy Glue, rubber bands, and plastic bits and created my first Bare Baby Bottle prototype, giving birth to Bittylab shortly after. Unmedicated childbirth was easier than balancing work and children.  But my business life would not work without the chaos nearby, without being able to wear my workout clothes all day and nap on the sofa between craft projects and dinner.

Carlton’s colic inspired the business. The pediatrician told me he was dehydrated and undernourished and I’d have to supplement breastfeeding with a bottle. Then he cried, and cried as colic became a daily (and nightly) norm. I thought about how syringes don’t let in any air, and used that as my guiding principle to create the Bare Bottle, which lets a baby draw in milk in the only completely airless suction process on the market. Then I redesigned the nipple so that a baby has to latch on like he does on the breast. Because having suffered through his nipple confusion, and preference for a bottle, I wanted to find a solution.

The first step: I showed up at the biggest retailer in the baby category and met with the senior buyer who, after seeing how Bare worked, raved about the bottle’s uniqueness and innovation. She encouraged us (my husband and I) to get it into production. ASAP. It took three and a half years to develop a working prototype. Molders in the US turned us down. In 2010, when Carlton was three and my daughter Adriana was two, Bittylab became my full-time job. I filed patents and did the ABC trade show. The prototype attracted a lot of attention. Between 2011 and 2016, we had 15 meetings with Babies “R” Us who understood the bottle and loved it.

Funding: A small business loan from Community Capital allowed us to place the order so Bare bottles made it to 185 Babies “R” Us stores in February 2016, meeting the deadline. 

 

Fastforward: Now I ship to 200 Babies R Us stores (hence the weekly conversations with the buyer), but am still on the corner at 3 p.m. waiting for that school bus. Launching a product took seven years of perseverance and belief in myself when a lot of male product engineers scoffed.

Learn as you go: We wanted to keep the warehouse in NY, and tried DIY distribution. When the first 20-foot container showed up in our Elmsford office we realized we didn’t have the necessary tools and equipment for a fast unload and I ended up climbing into the truck tossing boxes to my husband, which he put away one at a time inside “The Lab,” as I call our office. It was overwhelming and literally backbreaking. That’s when we found a California warehouse equipped to palletize and shrink-wrap and ship the boxes wholesale.

Work life balance:  I schedule all my business appointments from 9 to 3 as much as possible. We’ve just sold $1 million in retail sales. The goal is one million units.  As Bittylab grows, I plan to hire talent that can take the business to the next level, at the same time it will give me more time to spend with my kids and family.  

 

Bare_BRU

 

April 11, 2016

If Birth Order Affects Success, Am I Doomed?

                                   

IMG_3292
(Me and my siblings!)

 

 

Yesterday was National Sibling Day and my Facebook feed was filled with friends posting adorable photos of themselves with their siblings.  Seeing the photos made me think about my siblings, my slot in the family, our personalities and our lives, and of course, our work life balance.

I am a middle child, squeezed between an older sister and younger brother. I am also the sibling who wants everyone to get along. I guess you can say I'm a collaborator and a peacekeeper. So, what does that mean for me as a business woman and working mother? 

According to Jeff Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect, whether you have siblings, how many you have and where you fall in the hierarchy can play an important role in the work you love, the career you pursue and how successful you’ll be. It could even affect how you balance work and life.

Kluger says middle children -- like me -- take longer to find a career they love and in which they can thrive. Sometimes, we even get depressed about it. On the upside, we tend to build bigger networks and excel at relationship management—connecting, negotiating, brokering peace between differing sides. Kluger says middle siblings may not wind up as the corporate chiefs or the comedians, but whatever they do, they’re likely to do it more collegially and agreeably—and, as a result, more successfully—than other siblings. 

Kluger is right. I'm not a CEO, but I have found success as a writer on my own terms. However, because I'm the agreeable middle child,  I think work life balance is more difficult for me. I'm the sibling who takes on what others don't want to do, just to keep peace, such juggling my own children's needs with caregiving for aging family members.

Life is different for first borns, the oldest children. Kluger says they are statistically likelier to be CEOs, senators and astronauts—and to make more money than their younger siblings. He points out that first borns tend to run their companies conservatively—improving things by, say, streamlining product lines, simplifying distribution routes and generally making sure the trains run on time. From what I've seen, first borns run their households the same way as they run their organizations. These are the superwomen who make juggling work and family look easy.

Kluger says last borns, the youngest children, are risk takers. They are more inclined to be rebellious, funnier, more intuitive and more charismatic than their older siblings. Multiple studies have shown that the baby of the family is likelier than other siblings to be a writer or artist or especially a comedian—Stephen Colbert, the youngest of 11 siblings, is a great example of this. From my perspective, the youngest child stresses least about work life balance because he or she is more likely to ask for help -- and get it.

So, what do you think about birth order and odds of success? Do you fit Kluger's stereotypes? How do you think your birth order may be affecting your career and life choices and your work life balance?

April 07, 2016

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

 

                                    Bed

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

April 06, 2016

Shh....This is the secret to work life balance!

                                           Walking

 

 

Stressed? Overwhelmed? Feeling like you want to improve your work life balance?

I'm going to share a secret that will help. The key to balancing work and life is.....take a walk!

Walking can fuel creative thought. It can provide bonding time with your spouse, child or friend. It can introduce exercise into your life at no cost. It can help you wind down for a better night's sleep. It can be a much needed relief from stress.

Today is National Walking Day, and many cities are participating. The American Heart Association introduced the annual event about 10 years ago because it felt people spend too much time sitting in front of screens at work and home.

Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can offset inactivity and reduce the risk of heart disease. And, here is some really good news: The New York Times points out that research show walkers are most likely burning more calories than they think. 

It doesn't matter if you're walking outside or on a treadmill, a study by the American Psychological Association found walking improves the generation of novel ideas. The brain boost from walking even extends to when people sit down to do their creative work shortly after they finish walking. So, during the workday, if you hit a creative block or simple can't figure out how to resolve a problem you're facing, take a walk out to your car and around the building. The answer just may come to you.

Even the most time-pressed among us can squeeze a short walk into his or her day. Walk around the block before you head to work or get out and walk through your lunch break. At your next business meeting,instead of sitting in a stuffy meeting room, suggest walking around the office instead. Chances are it will probably be a more productive meeting. 

A few nights a week, my husband and I take a walk around the neighborhood with our dog. We leave our phones at home. It's become our alone time to plan our weekends, discuss our daily challenges and share our life goals. I really think it's been a big boost to our marriage. 

Lots of my friends love their fitbits or other activity trackers. But I am resisting getting caught up in counting my steps or making walking a chore. To me, it's all about decompressing or bonding. 

So, I'm suggesting you walk your way to a better work life balance. It's possible and today is a great day to start!

April 05, 2016

Exhausted by boarding time? Here's how to prepare for take off

                                       Take off

 

 

Recently as I prepared for my spring vacation, I found myself with tons to get done. I grabbed the mail and newspaper. Then, I began paying bills, cleaning out my fridge and responding to as many work emails as I could get to.

I always like to tackle my to-do list before I leave to ensure a more relaxing vacation. But the long, frenetic days leading up to take off are exhausting. I understand why a recent survey by Wakefield on behalf of Hilton Garden Inn revealed 71 percent of women would clone themselves to achieve everything they need to get done in a day.

Many Americans leave up to $52.4 billion worth of vacation days unused each year. But time off can be key to work life balance. In particular, a little bit of preparation can go a long way to ensuring you actually enjoy the vacation days you worked so hard to earn. Over many years of writing about work life balance, I have asked businesswomen who travel often for their careers to share simple rituals and tested time-savers to make travel easier.

 

If you plan to travel this spring, here are a few tips you might find as helpful as I do:



  1. Get sleep. The night before traveling, many of us have the urge to stay up late trying to get things done. I set a bedtime the night before take off and stick to it. Truth be told, I’m cranky when I don’t get a good night sleep and I want to start my journey pumped for adventure.
  2. Prepare for an easy exit.  The night before traveling, I put my suitcases by the front door along with a list of what I need to do before I walk out the door. That includes packing my phone charger, feeding the fish, turning off the lights etc.  Creating that list allows me to get out the door quickly and creates peace of mind.
  3. Make a playlist. Before I leave on a trip, I make myself a “wind down” playlist on my iPod. When I travel, I often have a lot on my mind (places to go, people to see). My playlist allows me to soothe myself to sleep on a plane, lull myself into a dreamy state in a hotel room or relax a bit if my flight is delayed. James Taylor is my go-to artist for calming tunes.
  4. Download apps. There are lots of apps that make travel easier and keep waiting time at airports at minimal such as those that offer restaurant suggestions, give updates on flight status and offer easy check-in at hotels. CityMaps2Go is one of my favorite travel apps because it allows you to preload city maps onto your phone so you don’t need an Internet connection to find your way around.
  5. Make an exercise plan. Traveling can be tough on the waistline but if you plan ahead you can fit some exercise time into your schedule. Look over your proposed itinerary to block out 20 to 30 minutes to go to the hotel gym or for a short run. If that’s too much time to dedicate on vacation, there are a variety of free apps such as Wahoo Fitness’s seven minute workout, which you can easily do in your room. Perhaps right before brushing your teeth.

 

As a new member of the HGI Bright Minds team I’m excited to share work/life balance tips with all the superwomen out there to help make their lives easier. For more tips, be sure to follow me on social media and join the conversation at #HGIBrightIdeas.

March 30, 2016

How I overcame fear and improved my work life balance

As a young girl, every time the mention of skiing came up, my mother told me about how my father and my aunt both had broken a leg while learning the sport. So, while I found the idea of learning how to ski intriguing, I was too fearful to try it. I had convinced myself I had no interest in skiing.

This spring break, friends invited my family to join them on a ski vacation. Learning to ski is something that has always been on my husband's bucket list. So, I convinced my husband it was time for us to "go for  it." Off we went on a ski vacation with our youngest son.

Now, I won't go so far as to claim I mastered the sport. But I tried it, and I didn't break any bones. As small children whizzed effortlessly past me, I stayed calm and focused. I even discovered I liked skiing. To me that's a victory!

Typically, I am the reluctant one who wants to do something safe on vacation, or stay close to home. When my husband proposes adventures, I hesitate, even though I know in the back of my mind that breaking out of my comfort zone will be a good reprieve from life's daily stressors. Now, I am more willing to try something new.

Conquering fear is crucial for work life balance. Fear -- particularly fear that we won't be able to maintain a work life balance - often holds us back from taking promotions, accepting new jobs, having children and taking vacations. 

This morning, I happened upon a blog post about overcoming fear by Neil Pasricha, the director of the Institute for Global Happiness and author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation.

I particularly liked this tip he provided: Before you do anything, you have to feel like you can do it first—and then you have to actually want to do it second. You place action in front of capability and motivation. You put do it before can do it and want to do itTurns out, it’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.

Pasricha suggests we apply the "action leads to motivation" approach to a personal or career goal such as running a marathon, giving a big presentation or writing a novel.

I have a entirely differently outlook since I returned from skiing. I won't let the fear of what can go wrong give me stress or stop me from tackling activities on my bucket list. I know I won't be winning any Olympic medals for my skiing prowess, but gliding down a mountain slowly has its reward, too.

IMG_1403
 

 

 

March 29, 2016

5 Ways to Overcome Work Life Balance Obstacles

Some professions are more demanding than others. Law is one of those demanding professions. It can be particularly challenging for young attorneys who want to prove themselves, but also want a life outside the practice of law.

In a new Florida Bar survey of young women lawyers, one female attorney complained her partners had no understanding of work life balance or her need to pick up a sick child from school. "Too many male partners  have stay at home wives who don't understand that I have to do the same things their wives do while also working."

Another female attorney suggested firms entirely reinvent their culture to respect singles who want a personal life. Both are valid reasons why work life balance concerns need addressing.

Today, my guest bloggers are  Leslie R. Pollack and Christina M. Himmel, associates at Kluger Kaplan in Miami. The two women have some great suggestions for lawyers or anyone struggling to overcome work life balance challenges:

 

 

Leslie Pollack
(Leslie Pollack)          

This is 2016. It is a year where we could witness Hillary Clinton become the first female President of the United States. It is a time where women have ostensibly shattered whatever glass ceiling may have existed in the past. Yet, despite the perceived progress for women, there are still obstacles to overcome, including work-life balance.

For young women lawyers, navigating through the ever-changing legal world can be challenging for a multitude of reasons. Inequality in pay, respect, and advancement are among the issues confronting young women lawyers. According to a recent survey conducted by the Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar, 43% of young women attorneys have experienced gender bias.

One of the survey participants said that she left a job because she “was told by the managing partner that [she] did not have to worry about making money and moving ahead because [she] would get married one day and will not have to worry about living expenses."

 

Christina Himmel-1
(Christina Himmel)

 

More than a quarter of the female lawyers surveyed reported that they resigned from a position due to lack of advancement, employer insensitivity, and lack of work-life balance.

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles for a young woman lawyer—and young lawyers generally—is the expectation of being accessible and “on call” 24/7. When the partners were our age and they left for the day, they left. Because of the ease of technology, we're never really away from office as long as we have our phones. 

While 24/7 access may seem overwhelming, here are a few tips to keep everything in perspective and help maintain that sought after work-life balance:

1.     Establish boundaries. For example, when you get home from work you may decide not to check your emails for the first hour so you can spend uninterrupted quality time with your family. On the weekends, you might look at your phone and address an issue with a quick email saying you will handle the matter first thing Monday. That way, you are appeasing your employer but still maintaining a level of balance

2.     Stick to your plan. Don’t get discouraged if you have a week where work completely infringes on your personal life.  Work-life balance is a process and work demands often are cyclical. Ride the cycle and keep your eye on the big picture rather than becoming frustrated by the work life balance challenge going on in the moment.

3.     Take time for yourself. Whether you like exercising or traveling, be sure you make time to pursue your interests outside the practice of law. It's always easy when work for a partner who is understanding and takes family life seriously. Make an effort to convey that personal time is important to you and that if if one suffers, the other will too. 

4.     Create your own definition of success. Success looks different to everyone so it is important to establish your own personal career goals and pursue them. For one person, success might be billing 2,500 hours and taking the quickest track to partner. For another person, success might mean doing well at their job and being someone who the client comes to for advice, but not necessarily being the first one in and last one out.

5. Have a work life conversation. Don't be afraid to discuss flexible work options with a law partner or manager. One of the great advantages of technology is the ability to leave the office at a reasonable time, go meet friends or family for dinner, and then finish a pending assignment later in the evening from the comfort of your own home.

While modern technology has certainly changed the way we work, it has also opened the door to benefits like flexible schedules and the ability to work from any location. For young  lawyers, navigating through the ever-changing legal world can be challenging, but also quite doable.

March 24, 2016

How Adam LaRoche got the work family conversation started again

 

 

                            Adam

 

 

Years ago I worked in a newsroom bureau next door to a charter school. Every afternoon, my co-worker would pick up his young son from school and bring him to the office to do his homework. While I thought it was awesome, I also kind of resented it because I thought that a mother who brought her child to the office every afternoon would get disciplined.

The topic of bringing your child to work became top of mind again last week when Adam LaRoche, a power-hitting first baseman, informed the White Sox that he intended to retire with a year and $13 million left on his contract. He made the decision after being told by club President Kenny Williams that his 14-year-old son, Drake, should appear less frequently in the clubhouse.

Initially, the White Sox welcomed LaRoche's son Drake and even outfitted him with a uniform and gave him a locker inside the clubhouse. Drake began traveling with his father during baseball season, receiving home-schooled lessons.

But Williams had enough of Drake’s constant presence and defended his position to ask his player to leave his son at home by saying, "Where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?"

The answer, of course, is hardly anywhere. And that got me thinking.

Some parents like LaRoche may want to bring their child to work. Some may need to bring their child to work. Indeed, as the Washington Post notes, “most people who wrestle with children-at-work issues do it for straight-up survival, not to form an unusually close bond with a child.” And, while it was LaRoche's choice to quit because he couldn't bring his son to work with him, some people (particularly mothers) have been fired for doing it. 

Fortunately, for workers who prove themselves valuable, businesses are starting to bend a little to keep their top talent happy.   Now, it’s up to each of us to ask for what we need to keep our work and home lives on track, convince our employers to give us those accommodations, and be prepared to make decisions based on the response to our requests. In Adam’s case, he faced a tough choice between work and family, and chose family. His decision resonated with baseball players around the country who rallied behind him when he quit, citing #FamilyFirst as the reason.

Tadd Schwartz, a father of two young children and owner of Schwartz Media Strategies, says thinks LaRoche should be able to bring Drake to work with him. Schwartz just allowed an employee to bring a sick dog with him to work. “Culture is critical and if an employee is productive and wants his or her son/ daughter (or dog) in the office and it's not a distraction then I'm fine with it. It’s called flexibility.”

I asked another employer what he thought about LaRoche's action and he told me doesn't think that anyone, male or female, should bring their child to work: "We're paying people to focus on their job, not their child. On an emergency basis, that would be different. But on a day to day basis it's a distraction for the parent and a liability for the company." 

I appreciate LaRoche's position as a father who travels a lot for work and wants to spend time with his son. I also appreciate the fact that LaRoche has America discussing this important topic. The movement to make workplaces more kid-friendly has been slow to take hold. But, as more men take on their fair share of childcare duty, I foresee fathers making the tough decision LaRoche made and more employers suffering the consequences for refusing to be open-minded. 

March 14, 2016

My Birthday Work Life Balance Lesson

 

 

                                                Cake2

 

Today is my 51st birthday and I'm officially in the "Over 50" age bracket. That could be a little depressing but instead of looking at what's behind me, I'm looking at what's ahead. 

Fortunately, I read something this morning that inspired me in my quest for work life balance in a stage of life that depends less on taking care of my children (two who are now in college) and more about finding the right fulfillment from work and life. 

Life coach Martina E. Faulkner says two little words can make a big difference in how we live our lives. Do you want to know those two words?

Get ready because they are simple and complicated at the same time....

“What if..?”

For example, you can ask yourself, "What if I could..." or What if I did..."

Instead of feeling frantic, overwhelmed or unfulfilled ...What if we ask ourselves "What if?"

What if I wrote the book? What if I published it? or What if I took on a new position at work? What if I asked my boss for flexibility?

Martina says “What if..?” is a simple little phrase that belies its greatness. It is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to manifest the greatest joys or undermine even the most assured confidence. It all depends on how you use it. 

What if I let go of the sad feeling I have that I don't have toddlers to tuck in bed at night and embrace the fact that I can talk to my kids about my work challenges or hear their thoughts about who should be President?

What if I allow myself to feel less stressed about the constant stream of information coming at me from every direction and make more effort to work productively and pursue new outside interests?

There are so many ways to strike a better balance if we ask ourselves "What if.."

I look forward to all the possibilities that those two words bring. Happy Birthday to Me!

March 10, 2016

We have to stop stressing ourselves out

                                                 Stressed

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my top 7 suggestions:

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

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