Recently, my son transitioned to a different middle school than the one he had been attending since kindergarten and originally intended to graduate. This transition got me thinking when it came time for me to write for Women in HR. One can truly correlate the selection of a school to attend to accepting and starting a new job. Overall, it’s a personal choice and the final decision not only has to be the student or jobseeker, but it has to fit with their overall plan in life.
Now you may think “isn’t middle school a bit too young to be thinking about how a school decision fits into your overall plan?” Not really, I personally think kids are “groomed”, hopefully by their own choice and not their parents living their own goals through them, very early in life for things like sports, music, dance and more. Where I live, it seems like the high school all-stars start their journey before they can even tie their shoes. I’ve seen young baseball, soccer and football camps for kids who barely enter elementary school. They wear the gear but they are so tiny it looks like they are going to fall over. So if the focus on team sports can start so early then why can’t kids start making choices from an academic standpoint that affect their career? I have always heard that you can trace your career choice back to what you did on the playground. Me? I used to sing on the porch in front of my audience from the neighborhood. While my dreams of a singing career did not come true, I do have an audience now and again as a teacher, trainer, and speaker in the HR community. So I guess at least from my experience what I hear is true, to an extent, of course.
Now let’s get back to the school choice and its relationship to jobs. Once my son decided to change schools, which he had been contemplating for almost a year, we decided to set up a “shadow” day at two of the schools he had in mind. In addition to hanging out with a fellow student all day to observe, he had to meet with the principal of each school, for which I joined him to listen and ask my own questions. As a parent, I was very impressed at my son’s questions and his maturity while in these meetings. He asked questions I had not even thought of, like: 1) what type of math and English program the school uses to teach the students; and 2) what specific extra-curricular activities did they have related to his personal interests.
One of the things his former school had that neither of the new choices had was Robotics, which was very important to him since he plans at this point to have a career in engineering, technology, or both. However, he justified his decision to continue to pursue his move because the school he did finally decide on had an advanced math course and was willing to start a Robotics club as soon as possible. While starting the club would not allow him to immediately join a Robotics team, allowing him to compete like he did the previous year, it was not a game changer. He told me that since he would now be able to take high school math in 8th grade that would give him a jump start on his high school math credits. That decision will allow him to take college level math while still in high school. Did I mention he is 12 years old and he is telling me all of this? The reason it is so important to him is because he has plans to go to a specific college one day (MIT) that will help him get into the career of his dreams.
Employees (typically disgruntled or disengaged employees) are constantly looking for a new job or opportunity, especially when the job they are in doesn’t satisfy their needs or holds them back from moving closer to the dream job they would like to have. Recently, on Drive Thru HR I heard Jennifer Miller refer to people finding a job that deserves them. How fitting of a philosophy that jobs don’t find people, people find jobs. I remember getting out of the financial services field to move into manufacturing so I could round out my resume to experience the old white collar and blue collar workforce. Someone had told me that my HR advice probably didn’t work in the blue collar world because I had only worked with people in offices. I was not about to have that perception limit my future opportunities so I took care of it by getting the job I needed to work in the blue collar workplace.
Planning at any age, in school or in the world of work, can definitely help to shape your career.
Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @DonnaRogersHR. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.
Today’s dads are working hard to be “better” fathers than previous generations. No one is saying that that those generations of dads were not good fathers, times are simply changing and dads today are making it clear that they want to raise their children differently.
While dads are making family time a bigger priority than their fathers and grandfathers did, their dedication to a thriving professional career has not changed. Corporate culture, especially in larger companies, doesn’t always mesh with a dad’s desire for more family time. Because of this, many working dads are finding themselves struggling to juggle a work-life balance, as women have been doing for decades.
However, some companies are evolving with the times and improving their paternity leave programs as well as utilizing technology to allow for more work flexibility. This includes giving dads the ability to work from home, even if it’s only for a couple of hours a day so they can cut out of the office early to pick the kids up from school.
Of course another factor is that our wives are not the women their mothers were. With more women in the workforce, in fact 40% are now the family breadwinner, the home environment has changed and so must the delegation of household responsibilities. There is increased pressure on men to be more than just a paycheck and to play an equal parenting role.
But it’s also that our generation has wanted to change and be more present in our children’s lives. To really know them and to be closely involved with shaping who our children become.
According to a Pew study, fathers in 1965 spent only 2.5 hours a week on child care, where today that number has jumped to about 7 hours. While that may not seem like much, evolution is a process and I believe that the generations of boys we are raising will do even more.
I had a great childhood and have enormous admiration, love and respect for my dad but have still strived to be a more involved father in the raising of my three children. And I hope that my sons will do even more than I’ve done for their kids.
Men are evolving. Each generation is told more and more that it’s okay to cry, to be vulnerable and to love. So when we hold our babies in our arms for the very first time – we do. All of those thoughts we had as kids “I wish my dad were here,” “I’ll do that when I’m a dad,” come flooding back and we make a conscious effort to be different. Some of those promises we keep and some falter under the pressures of careers and mortgages. But the point is that we get a little closer to being the dad that we wanted to be and hopefully, as we reflect on the dad we said we would be – and the dad we actually are – we continue to evolve.
Chris Duchesne is the VP of Care.com’s Global Employer Program, Workplace Solutions. He brings more than 15 years of experience in HR technology to Care.com, the largest online care destination in the world with 8 million members spanning 16 countries. A key member of the leadership team, he oversees the Global Workplace Solutions program that provides customized, cost-effective programs that make Care.com’s suite of services available to institutional and corporate clients, their employees and families. A father of three small children, Chris knows first-hand the challenges working parents face and brings that experience to his role.
I love to watch my little girls sleep. They are calm, full of possibility, and not asking me to change them for the 4th time that hour into another fairy, princess, or pirate costume. As I watch, I imagine what dramas, adventures, heartbreak, and careers (I am a career coach after all!) lie ahead for both of them and it’s hard to discern what my hopes are for them and what my actual expectations are.
My free-spirited head-strong 4. 5 year old has always had a mind of her own and her attitude taught me early on that she was her own girl, with a unique personality; wonderful, and not at all a clone of her mom. This helped me pull away the layers of hopes I had dreamt up when she was 20 weeks in utero and I found out a little girl was in our future. As she took on the world through her independence, I worked hard to stop putting my aspirations or assumptions of who she would become onto her tiny little shoulders. By the time my younger daughter was born I felt that I was doing a pretty decent job of embracing the individual personalities each girl would have. That being said, I still do catch myself making offhand comments about “when Josie is CEO of a company” or “when she opens her own restaurant.” After years of watching their personalities form, I come up with careers that I think they will definitely master. Of course, these career predictions change as fast as the whims of precocious preschoolers change. So what exactly do I hope for when it comes to the lives my girls create and why do I bother to write about it?
I hope they have choices. I hope they never have to stay in situations that aren’t working for them, that aren’t helping them grow, and thrive, and laugh, and play. I hope they work (I do, I can’t help it) but I also hope they have the choice to create the work schedule and environment that brings out their best and matches the priorities they hold at any given moment. So what does this mean for me, and how I mother them? How do I help them achieve a life full of choice? I’m not quite sure but I think it involves helping them develop a love of learning so they have the education to back up their goals. I am also pretty sure it involves showing them what love is and how it never means giving up who you are, what you like, or who your friends are. I want them to choose wisely if and when they do decide to marry.
I have read countless books geared towards us working mom set, and most of them are written from the perspective of a fairly privileged, educated woman who does have the choice to either work or not, be married or not, have more children or not, schedule housecleaners, nannies, gardeners, date night etc. or not. One of the themes that seems to come through is a hint of complaint about the fact that there just are too many choices. As if moms are paralyzed by choice and opportunity, a burden the generation before us didn’t have.
Can I be candid? To me this is nonsense. Instead of lamenting the various choices we have and the way it makes us feel afraid to move, how about buck up and spend some time figuring what you want and who you are, and have the courage to be that person and pursue that goal? Take choice by the horns and run with it. You want to work part-time to have more time with your family? Figure out a way to make it work. Talk to your employer, talk to other moms who do it, create a situation that makes it possible. You want to start your own business? There is no easier time then now. Truly it will only get harder. Trust me, I work with MBA students and I have heard every counter to this argument including “ I have a newborn” to which my response is, “Do you think it will be easier when you have a full schedule of t-ball and ballet classes to take your kids too?” You want a meaningful career that involves decision making? Pursue another degree, ask for management opportunities, apply for a new job, seek out a mentor that has that role. Take proactive steps so you are creating a life that includes endless choices and a plethora of paths to venture down.
I hope this for my daughters, I seek this for myself, and I encourage it of you.
About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Brooks Institute, a well-known film, photography, and design school where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.
Photo credit iStockphoto
What do you want to be known for? What is important to you?
If you think you are too young to read about retirement or you roll your eyes at the thought of it because it seems impossible, then YOU need to keep your butt in your seat and read this one. If you still want to jump elsewhere – replace the word retirement with sabbatical, or career change, and most of all of this discussion is very applicable there too.
I know my circumstances for retirement are somewhat unique, but the ah-ha moments and realizations I want to share are life lessons and they also happen to be really more powerful when finding yourself free of the high demands of one’s current high speed career.
The word retirement is not a bad word and stop making people that use it feel lazy or shameful. My husband and I have renamed our current status to sabbatical, because of the negative responses we get for using the word retirement this young. Oh well, I expect no sympathy – just a point to make.
When one retires and finds more time on their hands, a lot of self-reflection begins. I believe this is one reason so many people that thought they would love retirement or worked really hard to get there, find themselves miserable. They don’t like what is reflected back to them, when they look deep. The time to evaluate one’s self is when you are slaving away at your job so that you find some releases and rewards along the way.
- Are you an interesting person that can carry on conversations beyond your work and your kids?
- Do you have hobbies that you love to spend time on? Can you find a way to cultivate them now (you will like your life better if you do)
- Do you really know how to relax? Really unplug? It’s been three months and I still check my phone far more then I need to.
Do you have real friendships that would exist without the work or work-style connections? This is a tough one for a lot of people and a lot or relationships. Do your conversations go beyond the topics of work, your industry, or the escape from such work? These may be the friends that have been there through good and bad and always were available, or they could be the friends that you share your hobbies and other interest with. If you find this category of your life lacking, I encourage you to evaluate and cultivate your relationships. It might still be some of the same people in your life, but taking the friendships into a different direction can be rewarding and important.
Can you spend extensive time with your spouse and truly enjoy it? I am blessed that I have worked side-by-side my husband for the last 20 years, so this part is easy for me. I see other couples really struggle when they are more in each other’s calendars. It doesn’t mean things are broken, but you might want to find more common activities and also plan for separate time with no guilt from either party.
This is where most articles focus on retirement, starting your own business, or the risk of career changing. There is a reason for that – it is important. Entrepreneurs are conditioned to “know your number”. The biggest portion of that term is knowing the number it would take to sell your business, but the critical day-to-day practicality of that expression applies to everybody. What are the numbers it takes to live the life you expect?
I could reach those numbers quickly due to a couple of really key points in our lives.
- I categorize all of our expenditures into buckets in Quicken. Even if you need to look at it really often or you want to deny how much you spend on something, that just doesn’t do you any favors. If you are trying to hide an expenditure, then you definitely need to categorize it (electronics, jewelry, travel, entertainment, groceries, dining, etc)
- Have a real advisor that can help you evaluate your expenses, your income and your assets. I am not talking about the job title Financial Advisor; those guys are sales guys trying to sell you insurance, investment vehicles like annuities, and help you watch your stock market investments. I am talking about someone that is really designed to evaluate the way you live. Often tax accountants are better prepared for this then many financial advisors. I use an amazing company call SmithFrank; they are the real deal when it comes to all financial considerations.
Here’s the deal. If you know your financial requirements, you shape yourself and your relationships, and you dream about what you would do with your life and time if you were in the cubicle or on the plane again, you may find retirement, life-style entrepreneurship or a sabbatical is more easily within your reach then you thought. These things will certainly make your life at any stage better.
I have had a goal on my life list for well over a decade and I am now getting a chance to pursue it. I have wanted to create children’s books about doing what you love to do, for a career. So maybe sabbatical is a better for term for me, but really what I am doing is just living within a new framework. I am glad I planned for it.
Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.
Photo credit iStockphoto
I was putting my 7 year old to bed when she turned around and said “you’re the best mum a daughter can ever have, I am so proud of you and want to grow up to become like you.” I hugged her and kissed her, told her how much I love her and how much I am proud of her too. That night I couldn’t sleep and kept thinking to myself that between being a career driven woman, and a mother (and a good one too, at least that’s what I think) whatever I am doing, it must be right.
Just how difficult is it to be a mom and have a full time job at the same time? Ask any working mom and she will say it isn’t easy. Balancing the two roles takes great talent, not to mention effort, to be able to switch between hats. Women are famous for their ability to multi task, and multiply this several times for women applying this skill to both a job and motherhood. We tend to go through guilt pangs every now and then, guilt that maybe we are not dedicating enough time to our children, that perhaps we will be seen as neglecting our jobs if we take those couple of hours to attend that sport event at school, etc…. We often do not stop for a moment, to take a deep breath and admire our resilience, stamina and our genuine efforts to keep both worlds seamlessly on track.
In an article published online in Time Health and Family in 2011, titled “Working Women Who Try to Be ‘Supermom’ May Be More Depressed”, the author makes reference to research that shows working mothers who think they are able to juggle between a career and motherhood effortlessly are in fact more depressed when compared to other women who really don’t overdo it.
Let’s stop here shall we?
Does trying to balance between our careers and our duties as moms mean we are overdoing it? I personally don’t think so. And by the way, which type of mom classifies as a ‘supermom’ anyway? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word ‘supermom’ as ‘a woman who performs the traditional duties of housekeeping and child-rearing while also having a full-time job’. According to this definition all working moms classify as one by default. The research goes on that apparently by embracing the fact that it is ok to ‘let things slide,’ working moms can happily combine both roles. On the face of it this makes sense, but there is a caveat, or at least that’s what I think: where do we working moms draw the line when ‘compromising’ on stuff at work before they are perceived as becoming slackers and their career growth suffers? And alternatively can working moms really let things slide when it comes to their children in any aspect related to their well-being, not just physically but equally important, emotionally?
Well I finished reading the article with one conclusion. The ‘supermom’ journey is filled with challenges, no doubt. I’ve been one for 7 years now, and I experience them first-hand every day. It is not easy to juggle between a demanding job, meetings, overseas assignments, projects, play days, doctor appointments, violin rehearsals, school concerts, sport days etc…. yet I still do it. How do I manage? I really don’t know. I’m not perfect, but who said that being a perfectionist is the road to happiness? Has it been a rewarding journey so far? It’s a straight ‘yes’. The personal gratification that comes from watching our children grow to be healthy happy individuals without compromising on career aspirations or vice versa is worth every moment of it. Maybe we are overcomplicating this ‘supermom’ case. Maybe all we have to do is realize we are doing our best and self-appreciate that. Apparently our children do.
Being a supermom is a matter of personal choice. Those of us who walk into it knowing we must spend a great portion of our lives balancing the heavy weight we carry on our shoulders become mentally prepared to face the challenges. There are plenty of days when we feel proud of what we are accomplishing, times when we feel the load is too much, and many more moments when guilt that maybe we are not giving it our best shot overtakes us, but you know what? The truth is that we are super and we have deservedly earned the title.
In February, the New York Times published a feature on why gender equality stalled, drawing attention once again to the fact that despite this being the 21st century, men and women still aren’t equal in the workplace.
We know that in the US, women are paid 77 cents for every man’s dollar and that only 4.2 per cent of Fortune 500 CEO positions are held by women – and this situation is replicated across the globe. So what’s stopping women getting a fair deal? And why don’t we speak out about it more?
Here’s a thought. I read yesterday about pop star Katy Perry who, upon receiving her Billboard award in December 2012, announced, “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.” Perhaps this is part of the problem. Many people today still regard the term ‘feminist’ as something derogatory. And Katy shows that women are in many ways the worst culprits for perpetuating this myth.
When did feminism mean anything other than getting a fair deal for women? It reminded me of this excerpt from journalist Caitlin Moran’s book, How to be a Woman:
When statistics come in saying that only 29 per cent of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42 per cent of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good sh*t GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?
It’s as if we’ve taken a step backwards. The word ‘feminist’ that once was short-hand for liberation, doing the right thing and creating a more equal society is now more generally associated with men-hating, making excuses and whining.
Another alarming fact is the increasing ‘lack of ambition’ in our young women. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, quotes some surprising statistics in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. For example, in a survey of 4,000 employees at big companies, 36% of men said they want to be CEO but only 18% of women said the same. Just think of the creativity, emotional intelligence and ultimate productivity that the global economy is missing out on if this continues.
At this point, I feel it’s appropriate to take some advice from an incredibly self-aware 16 year-old called Tavi Gevinson who says in her inspiring TED talk:
One thing that can be very alienating about a misconception of feminism is that girls then think that to be feminists they have to live up to being perfectly consistent in their beliefs, never being insecure, never having doubts, having all the answers…and this is not true and actually recognizing all the contradictions I was feeling became easier once I realized that feminism was not a rulebook but a discussion, a conversation, a process.
So my final thought is that we should reclaim the word ‘feminist’ not in an aggressive way, but in a conscious way. As women, aspiring to be the CEO doesn’t mean we have to be perfect or ruthless. It’s as simple as believing we can get there and working really hard. So let’s reclaim the essence of feminism at work, start shouting a bit louder about inequality and change some of the appalling statistics about unequal pay and promotion we keep reading about.
About the author: Sue Stoneman is CEO and founding partner of learning and development agency, NKD Learning. She is a change management, employee engagement and learning and development expert. Prior to setting up NKD Learning in 2005, Stoneman spent over 20 years in a variety of PLC and private equity businesses, including British Airways, Hyundai, Barclays and Terrafirma. She has a breadth of experience as a board director, having held senior positions in Marketing and Sales, Customer Operations and HR.
I happen to have a propensity for guilt. Although I am not sure of the origins of this tendency to own every hiccup in life, I battle it daily. Add that I am a working mother of two small girls and this doesn’t help with my guilt ridden personality.
When it comes to being a working mom, I often cannot quite tell what exactly I feel so guilty about. Do I regret not having as much time as I would like with my girls? Or am I feeling badly about the fact that I like my job, that it satisfies a core part of my personality? If the latter, what kind of mother does that make me?
I would like to think that every mom feels just like I do but the fact is they don’t. I have some amazing women in my life who are strong and confident in their choices to excel at work and raise really likable children. These women are wonderful examples to me and their advice helps me curb the guilt.
Recently I had coffee with a girlfriend who is not only successful but is raising two adorable boys. I asked her to share insight on how she gets through the day without nagging bouts of self-reproach.
- Stop apologizing for your choices. Yes you work. Yes you like it. Yes you love your kids. All of these things can go together without competing (well most of the time-perhaps not when you have to call in sick because your 2 year old caught some awful version of the stomach bug). Change your perspective and focus on what a great example you can be to your children by modeling work ethic, passion, and drive. These are important traits to possess and who better to teach your children than you?
- Be true to who you are. Follow your own path and not a prescribed path you think is correct. There are so many ways to “mommy” children. Do it your way and you will feel better about it. I spent the first year of my oldest daughter’s life trying to prescribe to every sleep ritual out there. None of them felt right to me and none of them worked well for my daughter. Once I accepted the fact that the
Look, I don’t often get political on blogs. My views are my views and unless they intersect with HR, I don’t typically put them out there. Despite loving a good debate, and by good I mean respectful and not shouting matches, I don’t like getting up on soapboxes because I have terrible balance and will likely hurt myself and others - metaphorically and literally.
But if you read this blog, I’m sure you’d understand why articles like this, To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal’ just drive me batty. Let me lay it out there - I consider myself a feminist (Oh god, hide your children!).
I know that a lot of people seem to treat “feminist” like this horrible, dirty word. Vocal extremes on both sides of the argument aside, I don’t think at its heart that feminism is about forcing women out of the home, destroying families, and hating on men. That stuff ultimately is just a distraction from some serious and legitimate concerns that impact everyone in society, not just women.
Feminism has impacted:
- Women’s right to vote
- Women’s right to decide who and when to marry (if ever)
- Women’s access to education
- Women’s access to better health services, and yes, that includes contraception and abortion
- Women’s rights and options in the work place to include career choice, protections from harassment, equal pay, promotions, training, management, etc.
- Better protection and recognition under the law (e..g rape, abuse, right to own a business and property)
- Women’s ability to serve in the military and now (yay!) fight in combat.
And that’s just what I could name of the top of my head.
That list isn’t about taking away anything or forcing women to do or be something that they don’t want to. That list is about choices. That list is about freedom. That list is about giving women the same rights, access, responsibility, and yes, equality under the law. It’s about giving our daughters opportunities we never had, whether they chose to take advantage of them or not.
Is it perfect? No. Will it ever be? No. But it’s something to work towards and there is a lot still left to be done, Gay rights for one, but laws don’t change people’s hearts and minds. That only happens through societal change. Everyday people, including feminists, are the ones who have gotten us to the point we are at today.
Society is facing a lot of challenges right now and it is going through some major upheaval. But no, that’s not a bad thing either. Why? Because I don’t understand how someone can look at the state and status of women in this country or across the world and think that Feminism, of all things, is what is wrong with our world today. I think it’s long past the point that we need some societal upheaval.
But the most ironic aspect of that article espousing that men and women are not, and should not, be treated equally is that if not for feminists and societal change she would have never been allowed to write that article, much less be a published author in her own right. I’d think that at least she would have to agree that is a good thing.
About the author: Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show, and blogs at her own site as the HR Minion.
As busy HR professionals we use the word focus in many ways, whether it be in terms of what project we need to focus on next, what the focus of our next meeting should be or where our overall focus should be to keep in line with strategy.
What if we find ourselves having trouble with focus in the more literal sense though? We have very full schedules to maintain, and at some point we may lose sight of what is at the center of our day and miss a cue. Here are some tips that I employ to keep my productivity up when I find myself having trouble zeroing in on the task at hand:
Get organized. If your mind is racing and all you can think about is everything else you need to accomplish it will be hard to give your full attention to what you need to work on right now. Take a few minutes to organize your work area and update your to-do list. Prioritize, update deadlines if necessary and cross off tasks you’ve completed. When you have things in order it is easier to give your full attention to one specific item on the list so you can complete it and move on to the next.
Get a small project out of the way. Now that you are organized look at your list and see if there is something simple you can cross off right away. Perhaps there is an email that can be easily answered, a meeting quickly scheduled or some papers cluttering your desk that can be filed. Knowing that you got something accomplished, no mat
ter how small it may be, will give you a boost of confidence to tackle something bigger.
Refuel and recharge. Think back to your last meal; did you skip it altogether or was it not satisfying? If your stomach is grumbling or you are feeling light-headed it will be tough to make progress in your work. Take time to eat lunch or fit in a small snack. With the proper nourishment we have the energy necessary to make it through the rest of the day.
Not hungry? Get up and take a walk instead. Move around the office to check in with co-workers or step outside for fresh air. Either way, when you come back to your desk you’ll be reinvigorated and ready to tackle your inbox.
Turn on the music. This may not work for those that require quiet to get their work completed, but I’ve always found that putting light music on in the background can drown out all of the other office noise and allow me to focus in on my work.
Everyone has a different approach to get back on track. Find what works best for you and make your day as effective as possible.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Heather Rose, PHR is an HR Professional with over 7 years experience supporting top organizations' HR functions. In addition to her career in HR, Heather enjoys writing about her life adventures, reading and traveling. You can connect with Heather on LinkedIn.
It begins on Friday. “Got any plans this weekend? What are you doing? Are you going to the
big game big concert craft sale at the VFW? Will you be having a cookout party crawfish boil for the holiday weekend?”
And it ends, momentarily at least, on Monday. “How was your weekend? What did you do? Did you go anywhere? Did you do anything?”
It’s office small talk that allows people to appear somewhat interested in the lives of their fellow cubicle dwellers. More than likely, Glen in Purchasing could really care less that Carmen from Marketing is attending the Annual Furry Convention to be held in Pittsburgh (well, ok, that might intrigue him a bit…), but he feels the need to ask.
But I’ve noticed, throughout my working years, that this idle chatter can turn into yet another form of workplace one-upmanship. I’ve heard the sanctimonious inflection in a woman’s voice as she answered “I retiled the bathroom Saturday morning, applied weed-and-feed to the lawn, hosted a small gathering for 8 on Saturday night and then, after church on Sunday, tackled that smoked salmon w/ foie gras recipe I’ve been meaning to try. It was a light weekend.” And I‘ve witnessed the blank-stare and faintly disguised superiority from the questioner when someone (oh wait, that was me) answered “I did absolutely nothing.”
Perhaps it’s a cliché because it’s true when we admonish people to “take time to smell the roses.” Why must we feel the need to be doing-something-every-minute? After a busy, hectic and structured work week filled with meetings, appointments, phone calls and tasks, isn’t it just enough to stop, relax and not feel the need to DO?
In our quest to appear busy and engaged a
nd active and plugged-in we seem to have collectively embraced the viewpoint that just being in one place (i.e. HOME) for a span of time longer than it takes us to sleep and bathe is now seen as some sign of societal disengagement. Weekends spent cuddling one’s children on the couch under a comforter, reading a book for the pure enjoyment of it or even mindlessly watching VH1’s marathon of “100 One-Hit Wonders” are all perfectly acceptable ways to spend the weekend – aren’t they?
Yet, I’m convinced; we sometimes ask others how they spend their leisure time for the primary purpose of making judgments about either their lack of ambition or their lack of creativity.
Occasionally I pull my car into the garage on a Friday evening and don’t venture out beyond our property line again until Monday morning. I eat cold pizza for breakfast and cereal for dinner. I watch The Princess Diaries and Sex and the City reruns. I read Happy Hollisters books and pretend I’m in 2nd grade. I deep cleanse my pores. I take a nap in the morning and then, just for good measure, I take another one in the afternoon.
Then, come Monday morning, I go along with the small talk and ask my colleagues what they did over the weekend while I answer their queries as well.
And when I state “I did absolutely nothing” I do so with pride.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Robin Schooling likes gadgets, coffee, wine and football and insists upon surrounding herself with people who are curious and have a desire to try new things. After 20 plus years in HR, she is fully aware that HR is fun, frustrating, rewarding, maddening and important … and she loves most-every minute of it. You can keep up with Robin at her blog HRSchoolhouse.com and on the Twitter at @RobinSchooling.