All Articles Tagged "work life balance"
Hindsight is 20/20. Too often that optometry-inspired axiom holds true. But if wisdom comes in a moment of reflection, it’s probably too late. Minimize your coulda-shoulda-wouldas. Here are nine things you should know before you go all in and start your business.
“The College Path Just Wasn’t Right for Me:” Mona Scott-Young Talks Gaining Success Without A Degree
Love & Hip Hop executive producer Mona Scott-Young is always on the move, constantly developing new shows and projects. She’s so busy, it’s pretty easy to forget that she has children and a husband at home. In a recent interview with Everything Girls Love, the media maven opened up about struggling to balance it all.
On her biggest accomplishment:
“Having my children, raising my family and being in a committed relationship.”
On balancing family and work:
“The balance of it is a juggling act everyday. It is something I’ve yet to master. I think there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything that I aspire to do in my career and spend every moment that I was love to spend with my family, so it definitely is a constant juggling act.”
On skipping college:
“I was living on my own at a very early age and needed to work to pay rent and found that the college path just wasn’t right for me. You can go out there, work hard and accomplish and achieve your dreams. I was able to strike out and find my success and find my way through life on my own.”
On separating work and personal feelings:
“It’s a very fine line to walk. It’s very easily blurred at times. I always try to maintain a certain level of professionalism in my dealings with clients, but it’s very hard to not get personally involved with them. You grow to care for these people. They become part of your family. They do become extended family to you. It is a very, very fine line to walk.”
On being perceived as “mean:”
“The people who really know me know that’s not the case. I can’t concern myself with what people who don’t know me have to say about me; because they’re coming to their conclusions from a very narrow perspective. Maybe I am mean in the pursuit of what it is that needs to be done. I try to maintain a reputation of doing good business and of being a good person to be in business with. So I hope that’s what people who are in business with me have to say. “
On young women looking to make it in media:
“I just encourage people to never give up on those dreams; to never think that they can’t do or be something. We are all born on an equal playing field. I just think that we all need to recognize that the sky is the limit. Everyday that you get up, whatever it is that you aspire to do, go for it with everything you’ve got. Really, there is nothing to stop you but yourself.”
With Americans working up to 72 hours a week, there is a need for downtime. And while smartphones and laptops make it difficult to disconnect from work, not taking time off can have a negative affect on various areas of your life, from personal relationships to your wallet.
On the other hand, taking time to unwind can actually help your career. Creating the space for downtime increases productivity, reports Harvard Business Review. BCG conducted an experiment that found forcing employees to take days, nights, or extended periods of time off actually increased productivity. “Taking the time to get out of the details and view the larger picture can also help us better understand the purpose and priority of our tasks,” reports Harvard Business Review.
Look at other countries for proof that downtime boosts productivity. Industrial powerhouses Germany and France have 35-hour workweeks, but their productivity levels are among the highest in the world, reports The Huffington Post. And while, on average, workers in these countries may have lower incomes, their standard of living and quality of life are in many ways above the U.S. Another study found that employees who unplugged and took time off such reduced serious health issues as coronary heart disease.
“I consider the value of getting enough downtime as the difference between life and death,” Dr. Bisa Batten Lewis, known as Dr. Bisa, tells us in an email interview. “Longevity requires rest. As a busy-body mompreneur, my mom often reminds me, ‘Even God rested on the Sabbath day.’ I take heed and listen, at least one day per week, or when my body tells me to rest. Now that I am over 40, I’ve learned to listen now, more than ever.” Dr. Bisa is the founder and managing partner of an educational consulting firm and a curriculum company and founder of the Dr. Bisa Foundation.
So here’s how to make room for “me” time:
Schedule time for yourself: Make a date to spend time for yourself. “Just as you would schedule a work meeting and stick to it, schedule evenings off, one to two days a week free of work, and weeklong chunks of vacation every year,” reports Harvard Business Review. Adds Dr. Bisa, “As an entrepreneur, I take advantage of being able to determine my own schedule. There are some contractual dates I don’t have control over, so I focus on those that I do.”
Learn your body’s signals: Your body will tell you when it’s time for a break. “When I am overdoing it, my neck and back tighten and I am less creative and productive. As an author and curriculum developer, creativity is crucial to my wallet. It’s my bread and butter,” says Dr. Bisa.
Turn off your smartphone: If you aren’t connected you won’t be tempted to work.
Start downtime rituals and routines: According to most research, developing routines help you sleep more soundly. “I try to only work away from home three days per week max and save a day for clerical work—that’s four days working during a five-day work week,” explains Dr. Bisa.
Make time for family and friends: Maintaining personal relationships is key to having a healthy outlet from work. “I get pretty irritable when I don’t get downtime. So my relationships, especially with my sons, can be strained. I fail to implement appropriate parenting techniques, during those times,” admits Dr. Bisa. “Funny thing is, my sons know and seem to tread carefully. That’s another sign that I need to slow down or take some downtime and makes me feel pretty bad. Being in a long-distance relationship makes life easier for me—just being honest.”
Do something for yourself: Even if it is just reading a new book, do something that you enjoy. “My personal downtime requirement is one day per week doing absolutely nothing—at least for the majority of the day. Being that I work/write in my home makes compartmentalizing tough, but I make a concerted effort to follow through with downtime by balancing my calendar,” says Dr. Bisa. “In addition to the one rest day per week, I get one day/evening of unquestionable ‘adult time’ or ‘me time’, during which I go have fun with friends or just do something alone. I also take one full spa day each month, usually on a Sunday after church. I stay all day and indulge in authentic Korean saunas and spa services!”
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. The stats aren’t too encouraging, but there may be something you can do to give your new firm a fighting chance.
Want to give your small business a better chance of thriving? Move. Some cities are more small business-friendly according to a new report from credit card comparison website CardHub.
CardHub’s study examined the 30 largest metropolitan areas around the country and ranked each city’s small business work environment based on 10 criteria, including small business job growth, salaries for new hires, cost of living and stress index, reports The Huffington Post.
The list is surprising. Minneapolis and San Antonio, for example, beat out Los Angeles and Chicago to make the top 10. And bankrupt Detroit came in last out of all 30 cities.
Phoenix and Riverside, Calif., were among the cities with the fastest growing small business communities, but they ranked among the bottom 10 for work environment. Here are the top three:
Can lunch change your mood? It sure can, according to a new study shows that how you spend your midday break matters less than whether or not you have the choice to lunch on your own terms, reports The Huffington Post.
In other words, the best lunch break is one in which you decide how to spend it. Don’t let your job dictate that you lunch at your desk when you really want to take a break outdoors, for example. “Need for autonomy is a fundamental psychological need, and past research shows that a feeling of autonomy is energizing on its own,” study co-author Dr. Ivona Hideg, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Business in Canada, explained The Huffington Post. “More specifically to lunch breaks, having autonomy over our lunch break activities gives us an opportunity to utilize our time in a way that suits us the best.”
The study surveyed 103 administrative workers at a large university, asking them how they spent their lunch breaks over a 10-day period, The Atlantic reported. Then, the researchers asked each person’s co-workers how tired that person seemed to be by the end of each work day.
“We found that a critical element was having the freedom to choose whether to [work through lunch] or not,” study co-author Dr. John Trugakos, associate professor in the department of management at the University of Toronto, wrote. “The autonomy aspect helps to offset what we had traditionally thought was not a good way to spend break time.”
There were some common links between lunchtime activities and levels of fatigue. If you participate in relaxing activities during lunch that you personally choose, it may lead to the least amount of reported fatigue at the end of the day. Doing work during lunch may result in appearing more tired. This is reduced when the choice to work was your own personal decision. Surprisingly, socializing during lunch may actually lead to higher levels of fatigue if you’re with people you can’t necessarily be yourself with, such as certain co-workers or your boss.
This study will be published in the October issue of the Academy of Management Journal.
In an ideal world, we could do whatever we want at our jobs. Want to take an extended lunch? No problem, so long as you get your work done and are productive. What are some things you would love to do on your job? Maybe take a Friday or two off during the month? Be able to work from home more?
Well who says you can’t do these things? With more and more companies offering flexibility when it comes to the workplace, you never know your available options until you ask. Here are some pointers on how to ask for more flexibility at work.
Everybody (and their mother) has an opinion about how best to juggle the demands of motherhood and career. Over the last two years in particular, public debate has intensified specifically around how motherhood can affect a woman’s professional trajectory, not to mention her earning potential. A recent New York Times article, “Progress At Work, But Mothers Still Pay a Price,” specifically points to research that shows “mothers earn 5 percent less per hour, per child, than comparable workers who are childless women.”
Former stay-at-home moms and mother-daughter duo Dana Winsley, 43, and Myra Boulware, 25, saw an opportunity to create the optimal work-life balance to suit their individual situations by starting an online business.
“Once I became a stay at home mom I didn’t want to leave my son,” Boulware explains. She spent two years at home with her firstborn. She adds, “Around the same time we decided to develop Glam Extensions online. Within the year, we opened our retail store.” located on 641 South Street in Philadelphia.”
Winsley fills in the blanks, noting that her daughter (one of her four children — three grown, one teenager) proposed several business ideas to her prior to them agreeing to seek their piece of the global multi-million dollar hair extension market. “One day, we were having a conversation where we were joking about wigs, and that’s when the idea popped into our heads. It’s like a light bulb went off.”
It wasn’t all laughs though. Winsley continues, “I won’t pretend that the transition [from stay-at-home mom to founder of Glam Extensions] was easy. I was laid off from my job and [Myra] was helping her fiancé with his business while she was in nursing school.” In the end, they both decided the business would help them achieve their respective goals of a work situation that meshed with their schedules as mothers and also satisfied their professional goals.
“Owning our own luxury hair care brand became what we both were seeking,” Winsley clarifies, “a professional office setting as well as a flexible work-from-home position.”
The company also has a standalone shop on South Street in Philadelphia. We talked with the Glam Extensions ladies about striking the work-life balance they craved.
MadameNoire: What circumstances surrounded your decision to become a stay-at-home mom?
Myra Boulware: I worked with my fiancé as his office assistant after I took a break from nursing school. I thought that after I had my son, I would go back to school to continue my nursing degree in no time, but it didn’t work out like that. I was a stay-at-home mom for two years.
Dana Winsley: I worked in a corporate position as a documentation coordinator. It definitely wasn’t planned. However, my husband and I looked at it as more time together, whereas my teenage daughter wasn’t as thrilled. I was a stay-at-home mom for four years.
MN: How did the idea for Glam Extensions come about?
DW: Glam Extensions started when Myra decided she didn’t want to work for anyone. She brought several ideas to me prior, but I thought that they wouldn’t be up our alley. Then one day, we were having a conversation where we were joking about wigs, and that’s when the idea popped into our heads. It’s like a light bulb went off.
MN: Do you go into an office to run Glam, or do you work from home?
DW: We work from both at our retail store and at home. Owning our own luxury hair care brand became what we both were seeking—a professional office setting as well as a flexible work-from-home position.
MN: How do you juggle responsibilities now that you’re calling the shots at work and at home as mom?
MB: My mother and I both have different responsibilities. We have to set a schedule and try to stay consistent. At Glam Extensions, we remind each other it’s business. As mother and daughter we both agree not to mention Glam Extensions at home. We prefer to “just be family,” however, sometimes that doesn’t always work.
MN: What’s your advice to stay-at-home moms looking to get back to work?
DW: No matter how thrilled you are to be home with your children, it’s rewarding and empowering to making a career of your own.
MB: Find a happy medium. If you enjoy being at home and raising your family, and also enjoy working and making money, it’s imperative to find a way to appeal to both dynamics.
Americans are very bad at taking a day off. According to a survey from Harris Interactive and social business solutions company Jive Software, 91 percent of Americans work during their time off. More than a third (37 percent) said they work 10 or more hours during a week that’s supposed to be reserved for rest and relaxation. Compare that to 27 percent of Australians and 18 percent of Brits. A survey of 2,034 workers was conducted.
An overwhelming majority (90 percent) of those two groups admit that they’re also working during their time off, but the amount of time they’re spending on workaday tasks is no where near the amount that Americans are putting in.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) said they would spend more time with their families if they had it. And 43 percent said they would spend that time exercising. Both are good for your health, and we should be doing more of them.
Jive Software’s senior director of social strategy, Sydney Sloan, blames the proliferation of mobile devices for the increased amount of work Americans are doing. If you can take your work anywhere, you can also do it anywhere.
She also attributes it to the fact that more people are following the European tradition of taking a vacation in August, and the ways in which our identities are tied to our jobs. “A lot of Americans identify themselves highly with their jobs, and they want to do work, they take pride in the fact that they’re working hard,” she said.
We’ll also add fear to this list. Given this still-recovering job market, many people want to ensure they have a job to come back to when their vacation is over. They want to show they’re indispensable, that the job can’t get done properly unless they’re the ones doing it. The lack of job security — both real and imagined — is likely driving a fair number of people to work even when a few days off catching up on rest, with loved ones, or enjoying the fruits of their labor are in order.
Sixty percent of working millennials plan to leave their job within the first three years of being hired—a nod to an employer’s difficulty in retaining Generation Y members of their company. More than half admit that millennials are the most expensive generation to train and retain, reports Millennial Branding.
It takes about three to seven weeks to train and develop a fully productive Generation Y worker at one’s company, according to a survey conducted by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com. Interviewing, advertising job positions and “on-boarding” were reported to the highest costs in the hiring process, in that order.
Forty-five percent of employees claim that millennials have the highest turnover rates in their company which is costing employers between $15,000 and $25,000. “In addition, 71 percent of companies reported that losing millennial employees increases workload and stress of current employees,” Millennial Branding added.
The most cited reasons why millennials leave after a short period of time are because they were offered a better salary at another company (30 percent), their career goals don’t match up with the company (27 percent), and a lack of opportunities (13 percent).
“The Millennial Generation has learned to be two things during the recession: resilient and nomadic,” said Rich Milgram, CEO of Beyond.com. “As the job market improves, the level of confidence will improve along with it and cause many in this age group to reevaluate their current situation, possibly seeing value in seeking greener pastures.”
In order to deter millennials from navigating away from the company, 48 percent of employers institute programs that address workplace flexibility. Forty percent establish mentoring programs to keep Generation Y engaged in the company. Half of the companies that were surveyed claimed the average pay for a millennial is $30,000 and $50,000.
The disconnect between employers and millennials may stem from the lack of appealing resources companies are providing. As studies have shown, career progression is a top priority for millennials. A tolerable work and life balance — flexible working hours — come in second place, but employers are falling flat in satisfying the needs of millennial workers. All of these things, BTW, sound like they would be appealing to other groups of workers as well.
A group of recent studies indicate that, once a man or woman has a child, their professional life starts to take a back seat.
One new study finds that women aren’t as motivated as men to strive for a promotion. Only 37 percent of employed women wanted to take on a bigger responsibility at work while 44 percent of men said they were ready, data from the National Study of Changing Workforce (NSCW) shows.
But separately, The Atlantic reports that both mothers and fathers are just not willing to put in more work at the office. “In other words, ambition starts sliding right around the time most Americans start having kids,” the article says. “[W]omen slide a bit further than men,” the story continues, but both fall back a bit once children are in the picture.
The NSCW study found that we gradually lose interest to be promoted as we age. “By our mid-to-late 20s, the desire to take on responsibility fades fast for both men and women.” Between the ages of 18 and 24, 69 percent of men and 67 percent of women desire a promotion. By the time we reach the ages of 55 to 64, that percentage drops down to 18 percent and 14 percent for men and women, respectively. Although both sexes become less enthused about a promotion as they age, men still remain more enticed by the possibility of a promotion.
The average woman has her first child at the age of 26. We all know that greater child-rearing pressures are placed on women, and their need to balance work and domestic duties is more pronounced. However, according to Forbes, “the number of stay-at-home fathers—about 154,000, according to the 2010 Census—is on the rise”, which may explain their decrease in motivation.
“Maybe people realize that becoming a manager (which is the most common avenue of promotion) requires spending one’s entire day in largely pointless meetings, a barrel-load of stress, and far less job satisfaction,” a commenter on The Atlantic article says. “…[T]he increase in salary fails to compensate for these drawbacks.”
Have you noticed yourself becoming less interested in climbing the career ladder? Is parenting or increased awareness of the corporate world a reason behind the shift?