Work/Family Balance Is For Everybody

Work/Family Balance

work/family balance is for singles, too
Sometimes the subject of work/family balance seems to be all about parents and kids, but that would be erroneous. Everyone needs to take time off the job and do something that renews their spirit so they can come back to work refreshed and ready to go.
Navigating uncertain times in your job as a single person has a different set of challenges because single adults are often living away from the network of family. Family can certainly be stressful, but family also is a support system for most of us. We need to be part of some definition of family even if that “family” is an online support group we never see in real life.
In some ways, parents have more clear cut boundaries about work commitments. A child comes with obvious responsibilities and you clearly must say “no, I can’t work late” sometimes to take care of those responsibilities. A single person sounds selfish, even to their own ears, when they want to say “no, I can’t work late” because they paid for a yoga class and it is not refundable. Why is the idea of losing out on a yoga class fee selfish? I don’t think it is, particularly if it’s an expensive class.
Everybody needs to have the ability to do these things outside of your work schedule:

  • maintain friendships
  • take care of your health
  • find leisure activities you enjoy

Maybe we should call it work/life balance, instead, because people who live alone still need to have an identity outside of their job description.
What do you think? How have you been able to maintain this important balance in your life?

A Coach Can Give Your Career A Tune Up

Products & Services

a coach can give your career a tune up
You know when your car needs a tune up. The engine stops running smoothly, there’s a few sputters and jerks when you take off, and the cloud of exhaust doesn’t look good. If you just keep moving, the problem doesn’t go away — it gradually gets worse and eventually you aren’t going anywhere. Your car needs that tune up or there will be permanent damage.
Your career can be the same way. You gradually become aware that something isn’t “right” but you aren’t sure what it is. You keep plugging away at your job and things start to sputter. Eventually you realize that you aren’t going anywhere. What should you do before there’s permanent damage to your future?
One logical thing to do is give your career a tune up; looking at the overall picture of your job history and current position, checking your skills to see if they are current, evaluating the things that need to change and figuring out how to change them. You could do this yourself with research and advice from experts. Of course, you’d be trying to figure out which experts to heed and what to research, but it can be done.
People who have expertise with engines can easily do their own tune ups because they know what to prioritize. Career tune ups can be challenging because most of us don’t know which one of the little issues is the most important in the long run. This is where investing in the right coaching services can make the difference between a career that goes nowhere and one that takes off. So, how do you pick the right coach?
It’s a lot like picking the right mechanic. You look for experience, certifications, and happy customers. You might try them out by having a small job done and see how you fit with their personality because that will matter to you over time. The credentials aren’t just pieces of paper; they represent completion of strict standards that can be verified. Career coaches work the same way.
We offer Coaching Services in three different packages and an a la carte selection that pretty much guarantees you will find help for your career. Just like the professional mechanics, we have listed the credentials so you can verify them and be confident you are getting help from the best. Your career will get the tune up it needs, attention to the places you need help in and the help will be there. Pretty soon your career will be humming smoothly and you will take off!

Snow Day! What Are You Going To Do?

Executive ResumesWork/Family Balance

snow day! what are you going to do?
The kids are in their jammies, jumping up and down while screaming in delight, “Snow day! School’s closed! YAY!” The babysitter calls to say she can’t get out of her driveway. When you look outside, you don’t even want to attempt getting to work. This has been a regular thing at my house. The kids are thrilled, but it puts mom and dad in a jam.
This is the time of year when Mother Nature throws us regular curve balls. Actually, I guess you could say they are snow balls, and it’s pretty if you don’t have to go anywhere! If you must get to work or be penalized, it isn’t pretty at all. When you have built some flexibility into your work schedule, you are in a better spot to deal with the problems that all this white stuff creates.
First, be like the school districts and build some “snow day” plans into your calendar. After the winter weather is long gone, you can use them for vacation if you didn’t need them during that blizzard. You know that there will be at least one time, and probably more, that you’ll wish you could just call in and say you are taking a snow day without creating havoc at work. Every job is different, and you might not be able to do this, but it sure works great when you can.
Second, utilize the same skills that are required in job sharing. If you have been communicating with your co-workers, documenting your progress on projects, and organizing your space at the end of the day, then you have made it easier for someone to keep going in your place temporarily if it is necessary. It really makes a difference if you aren’t ashamed to have someone peek into your office or cubicle. It also makes a difference if you have to explain where something is when they call you at home.
Third, appreciate the sudden break and spend some time with your family. These days will soon be gone, just like the snow outside. Be prepared for them and you can make some memories that last.

One Surprising Way Work/Family Balance Affects Salary Negotiation

Executive ResumesSalary

one surprising way work/family balance affects salary negotiation
Most of the time you hear about the wage gap between men and women — and how the gap is caused by the struggles women face in balancing work and family responsibilities. But the effects of that struggle are not all bad, because the result of your efforts has given you strength as well.
This applies to both men and women. I don’t want to act like men don’t struggle to keep job and family priorities straight. But since the majority of the wage gap conversation seems to focus on how women have lower wages as a result of motherhood, it’s a good thing to consider the strengths you have when it comes to negotiating your salary.

  • You have a life outside your cubicle. No matter what the result of your negotiation brings, your identity is not solely defined by the title on your paycheck or the amount written on it. This can give you the strength of perspective, allowing you to negotiate without focusing on one issue at the expense of others.
  • You have a lot of experience in negotiation. How many times have you had to work out the details to juggle childcare and career? If your kids are older, how much negotiation have you done over chores and homework? You have the strength of past experience in countless encounters in figuring out compromise.
  • You have a solid goal in mind. You know what the bills are and you know what your income is. If you can’t reconcile the numbers on your current salary, you need to be prepared to look for a different position if this one can’t provide the paycheck your family needs to survive. You have the strength of vision, that goal of providing for your family.

Tame The Holidays At Work And At Home

Work/Family Balance

tame the holidays at work and at home
It would be nice if the holiday season went in an orderly fashion, one event to the next, with perfect orbs of celebration repeating themselves in different colors.  But that’s fantasy. What really happens is more like the whirlwind of leaves or snowflakes spiraling beyond control because there is very little you actually do control in this busy season. Still, there are things you can do to tame the chaos enough to enjoy the ride.

  • Lower expectations. Advertising is selling “perfect” holidays because they want sales, not because it’s right for you this year. Memories are edited by our emotions. Now is the time to talk to family about what is important to each member (cookie baking? game night? visit to an attraction?) and plan on getting each one’s top item in the calendar. You might decide to scratch some things off your list of things to do. Fill in your calendar now with the things you value or they might be lost in the flurry of invitations and demands.
  • Now is the time to decide how to handle gift giving in the corporate world. Your coworkers may celebrate different holidays than you do or have different customs for the same holiday. Corporate culture will vary on expected gifts and value but knowing those expectations now helps you figure out what you will do about it. Last minute gifts are not usually impressive, but they invariably are expensive.
  • Most of us haven’t hauled out the decorations yet. Now is the perfect time to start eliminating things you no longer use in the home or your workspace. Don’t put the tinsel garland on top of the piles if you can get rid of those piles a little bit each day. Do the old “store it-give it-toss it” routine and clean the spot the pile was on. If you have to store it, put it where it belongs. If you don’t have a place for it, why are you keeping it? In the workplace and in the home the piles do more than get in the way, they are a safety hazard and an image destroyer. If you need everything in that pile you should make a home for it so it doesn’t get lost.
  • Start a change jar if you haven’t already and put extra cash into it. This is your “mad money” for indulgences. When it is gone, no indulgence until more is in the jar. Don’t wreck your household budget for frappuccinos with friends. Speaking of budgets; know yours and its limit. Keep January bills in mind when you use that credit card. It’s easier to make your financial plan now, including expected work expenses. Then you can use that plan as a guide to keep you out of impulse spending traps.

There’s no way to avoid all holiday stress, but doing what you can to anticipate it and lessen it will make your holidays more enjoyable this year, both at work and at home.

Navigating Uncertain Times In Your Job

Work/Family Balance

navigating uncertain times in your job
Every so often, uncertain times come to a large part of the economy. It might be a government shut down, severe weather, or a variety of other calamities can happen that affect your job. Even when uncertainty affects a small part of the economy, if it affects your job, then you need to be prepared to navigate unknown waters.
Here are a few basic points to keep in mind:

  • There will occasionally be uncertain times — look back in history and you can see that financial and political crises happen all the time, all over the world. Even if most of the economy is good, if your job is uncertain, then you have every reason to be concerned enough to do something about it. Job-related stress has symptoms, but it also has resolutions.
  • It is always a good idea to prepare for uncertain times — work on paying off your debt load even if all you can do is pay a little more than the minimum every month. Put some money in savings every payday, and don’t use it unless it is a last resort. Work out your budget so you have a handle on what you are doing with your money. Talk with your family about how you will get through a crisis; it’s like a fire drill that prepares you for emergencies.
  • Don’t waste today’s energy on worrying — do something about what stresses you. Take a walk every day instead of eating a donut for breakfast (not that I object to donuts–believe me, I don’t–but a walk is de-stressing where sugary snacks backfire). Look at your worries and work on what you are in control of. If you can’t control the thing that worries you, how will worry help? Answer: it won’t.
  • Forget about drama and smile at the people in your life — we are in the boat together. It makes the journey so much easier when we treat one another with kindness. The people you work with, the people you live with, and the people you interact with as you go through your day are all on the same ocean, and we all do better when we are smiling.

3 Tips To Balance Back To School And Work Schedules

Work/Family Balance

3 tips to balance back to school and work schedules
It’s that time of year again, when the start of the school year starts adding complications to your family/work schedule. A home with school age children is one that has a lot of similarities to white water rafting: periods of calm followed by raging rapids where you are just hoping to keep your head above water until you reach the end of the ride. It’s fun and exhilarating but better when you are prepared!
Here are 3 of the best tips for the season:

  1. Get advice from those who’ve been there. Posts like “Tips For Balancing Work And Family” usually are written by the experienced. There are a lot of options for advice, and it’s a good idea to skim the offerings with the idea of getting a perspective rather than seeing them as a list of things you must do. Just like you don’t eat everything at an all-you-can-eat buffet, you don’t try to personally implement every piece of advice you read.
  2. Get an idea of what you are in for. Sit down with everybody at the table with the calendar and map out the school year with all the info you have right now. Some families use color coding for every member or activity so it is seen at a glance what’s up in the week ahead. Put in the regular stuff, too, so you aren’t accidentally planning a double whammy for your day.  This is where you get a visual of what “too much to do” looks like and hopefully discuss how transportation will work and see that something might have to be edited out. Many families have found that they need to allow only ONE extracurricular activity per member.
  3. Get margins written into your schedule. The empty space is what allows you to read the words on this page, and the empty space in your schedule allows you to have time to breathe and connect. People need to have times where they just relax and putter and do whatever they like to do. It’s like recharging your batteries for the next round, or the calm water before the next rapids.

The ability to bring your whole focus into the workplace depends on your ability to relax about what’s happening at home. Getting the family schedule wisely worked out with all the factors plus margins for emergencies and recharging allows you to keep your mind on your job while you are there.

Tips To Consider When Pregnant And Working

Work/Family Balance

tips to consider when pregnant and working
One of the realities for women is that of being pregnant and working a full-time job. Actually, even if you were home all day, you’d be working around the house, so it isn’t a new or unusual condition, but for the first-time mother you do need to take some things into account:

  • Pregnancy changes your physical needs. You really do need to get more rest and pay attention to nutrition! Now is not the time to pretend you are superwoman.
  • Pregnancy changes the way your emotions and brain work. Give yourself space and permission to make some mistakes, then plan to correct the mistakes as they happen.
  • Pregnancy changes your insurance needs. Take the time to find out exactly how any benefits you have on the job apply and what the exceptions are for coverage. Don’t assume anything and be good friends with Human Resources if your employer has that asset.
  • Pregnancy changes your housing needs. You don’t need to have a fully-equipped nursery at first, but you will need some things like a car seat and a plan for the future. And lots of diapers. Oh, and did I mention diapers?
  • Pregnancy changes your future plans. Find out what maternity leave will entail from that good friend in HR. Figure out child care options for your return to the job.
  • Pregnancy changes your plans for today. You have a job to do and you know your stuff. Be flexible where you can and prepare ahead for days that will be low-energy. If you can work ahead or get organized, good. If you need a nap or have to put your swollen feet up, it will give you a break to get ready for the next thing on your agenda.

Your employer should not discriminate against you for being pregnant. Become familiar with your rights but reassure those relying on you that you have every intention of being responsible to fulfill your obligations on the job. You aren’t alone; network with other mothers and develop your support group (I went to MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). If your schedule can swing it, I highly recommend it! This will be a big change for you but such a blessing!