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Archive for the ‘Career Satisfaction’ Category

Working from home, I have many days when I’m mostly sitting at my desk, working on a variety of things that don’t require a lot of interaction with other people, don’t require getting up, and don’t require movement. But I can’t sit at my desk for more than about an hour at a time without going a little bit crazy.

 I find that those are the days when I overeat, snacking not because I’m hungry but because I need an excuse to walk downstairs. I’m trying to shift those snacking breaks into less caloric forays. If I need to take a walk downstairs, I could just as easily do it with my arms full of laundry – which has the added benefit of getting laundry done. Or, if I just need a mental break, I’ll allow myself 5 minutes to check out the blogs I read, or watch a video at Momversation. These 3-5 minute video conversations between mommy bloggers are always kind of funny and sometimes even informative.

I’m pretty sure that replacing real snacks with virutal snacks will impact my waistline. Hopefully it won’t kill my productivity.

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I was a bit surprised to see an article about working and parenting in the Openers Section of this Sunday’s NYT Business section. I’ll admit, I thought there would be more pressing things to write about. But I appreciate the coverage of a topic that is, of course, close to my heart. There are three key issues that the article brought up for me.

1) Being highly involved with your kids and your career means that you sometimes have to temper your ambitions.
I read Baby Makes Three (and Book Makes Four), the story of Alexandra Levit’s joyful birth of her first baby and her latest book in the same month, with interest and empathy. I freqently find myself in situations were I feel I need to temper my career ambitions so that I can protect my time with my monkeys. And I’m frequently unsure if I’m doing the right thing. But, like Levit, most of the time I feel lucky to have a career I enjoy and a pair of loving monkeys who I get to raise. 

2) It is possible to create a good situation for juggling family and work before you have kids. But it’s about demonstrating your value, not setting a schedule.
Levit writes that the advice from her mentors was to not worry about juggling family and work until her children were born. Only then, according to the advice, would she know what she wanted. She ignored that advice and is grateful that she did. I think that the advice was partly right and that ignoring it was partly right.

It is true that you don’t really know how you’ll feel about working vs. staying at home until you’re a parent. I’d even go as far as to say that even once your kids are born, you may change your mind a few times over the course of several years.

Which is why it is good to partially ignore that advice. Clearly establishing your value to employers, clients, or anyone else who who matters before you have children will most likely buy you the flexibility you need to figure things out after you have kids. It doesn’t mean you’ll know what works. It just means you’ll be more likely to be able to figure out an arrangement that works.

3) It’s easy to focus all your energy on your work and your kids. But if you don’t spend time on yourself, you won’t be the only one to suffer.
I did start to get a little worried about Levit, though, as I finished the article. She writes that with limited time to spend with her son and limited time to work, she has to maximize every moment. That includes not going to the gym or grabbing a coffee. This worries me because what I’m reading between the lines is that Levit is making time for work and for her family, but not for herself. I think that’s an unsustainable bargain, and one that’s likely to leave her depleted. Instead, I’d recommend that she make time to also do things just for herself. And I’d bet that they’ll somehow end up energizing her work and her interactions with her son.

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OK, this is very sad. I’ve been forgetting to post on Tuesdays with my Home Office Tips. Guess that’s what a few weeks of traveling followed by a few weeks of sick kids will do to you.

 

But it’s a great set up for today’s tip: create a routine. Flexibility has tremendous benefits. But it also has challenges. There are those days where it’s so hard to sit down and get to work. And so easy to do everything else.

 

So create a ‘getting to work routine’ that mimics what people do in offices. Mine is simple. After I come home from taking the monkeys to school, I put my coat away, reheat my cold coffee, fill a glass with water, and then head directly into my office. No stopping to do the laundry or tidy the kitchen – those are dangerous distractions for first thing in the morning. Simple is good, because it’s easy to repeat every day. But maybe it’s too simple.

 

Anyone else have a good morning routine that helps you work from home? Please share it in the comments.

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OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve been a bit unmotivated lately. You may have noticed the dearth of posts. I’ve noticed the dearth of interesting thoughts in my head. While I’ll allow some slackerdom due to holidays, general chaos, sick kids, and such, I’d like to get back into the swing of things.

I’ve been playing around with how to keep myself motivated and have found some fun online personality testing tools to help me find out what will work.

A fun one is Typealyzer. It analyses your blog and comes up with a Meyers-Briggs profile. I’m ETSP. Here’s what Typealyzer says about me, based on my blog:

ESTP – The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

What’s funny is I’ve never really though about myself as an ‘E’ – but I wonder if all bloggers come across as ‘E’ on their blogs, because we’re sharing about ourselves with people ‘out there.’ And I’m not sporty at all. I guess all those yoga references throw things off a bit.
Another test I took can be found at DreamWorkStyles.com.  Apparently the work styles I like best are strategist and facilitator. Which explains why I like my job. It’s always good to get that kind of positive reinforcement!
Psychcentral.com has a silly amount of on-line quizzes, on topics that range from ‘are you addicted to the internet’ (surprisingly, I’m not) to ‘do I need psychotherapy’ (likely beneficial !?!) to ‘your relationship connectedness’ (I’m connected!). A nice way to waste 1/2 an hour, but I didn’t find much valuable information here.
For a slew of other online sites where you can test the heck out of your personality, follow this link. 
As for true insight into what’s really going to motivate me, I think I’ve got to look offline. Although I did just find this link  for a test that will help me ‘discover my purpose in life’. I’ll keep you posted.

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I can’t believe it’s Tuesday again already.  It’s been hard for me to blog about anything given that instead of working from home, I’ve been trying to work from various airports.

That said, I’ve got a good quick tip for today. Don’t pick up your office phone after ‘business hours.’ Those hours can be whatever you want them to be, but set them and then respect them.

If you worked in an office that was separate from your home, you wouldn’t hear the phone ringing from your kitchen. If you have to, turn your ringer off when you’re done for the day.

Folks who need to reach you urgently most likely have your cell phone number or email address. It’s your decision about whether to check that. But don’t let yourself get pulled out of your home life by a call that can most likely wait.

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One of the drawbacks of working from home is that you’re not bumping into people in the kitchen, in the bathrooms, or in the elevators for random conversations. This often means that you don’t have casual conversations with folks, and if you don’t have a specific reason to talk to someone, you probably never actually talk.

Since business runs on relationships, this lack of conversation can actually get in your way. To stay connected to the people that you work with, make a point of calling people just to talk.

I keep a list of other people on our leadership team and make sure I’m calling them at least once every two weeks. I check off their names when we’ve spoken to give myself visual reminders of when calls need to happen. I’m not as good at just reaching out to other folks in the office, and as the office grows beyond 50 people, staying in touch gets increasingly difficult. But I try to make calls when an email would do, and I try to take time in a phone call to talk about what’s going on in people’s lives and what they’re up to.

Shooting the shit can feel like a waste of time, when you’re trying to stay productive and make time for other parts of your life, but maintaining your relationships in the workplace will ultimately pay off.

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I’ve had trouble finding time to blog lately. To help myself get a bit more disciplined, I’m succuming to a tried and true blogger tactic – the weekly column.

A lot of folks who juggle work and family life have the amazing opportunity of doing them both in the same place – working from home. I’ve been at it for over 4 years, and I’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. So on Tuesdays, I’ll share my tips for successfully working from home.

Today’s tip: Make lunch dates.

One of the hardest things about working from home is the lack of built in social infrastructure. Sure, you can call your colleagues, but if you’re in PA and they’re all in CA, you can’t spontaneously decide to go out to lunch.

Making up for the lack of social interactions by getting extremely chatty with the drycleaner, the barista, or the preschool teacher can only get you so far. It’s not the same as griping about work and sharing ideas with someone who understands what you do. 

Try to find people in similar industries near where you live, and schedule monthly lunches. I’ve recently been connecting with a former colleague who reccently moved to the area and a new friend who I met through a special interest list serv who work downtown. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it helps prevent the feeling that you’re just a disembodied head on the phone or hands on the keyboard. And it’s a great way to stay connected to a local network.

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