Friday, April 16, 2010

When Flexibility Smacks You in the Face

The one thing I hear from all moms, those working outside of the home and those that don't, is that their life isn't in balance. Well, what is this balance thing anyway? Would we know it if it smacked us in the face?

Take yesterday for example, which was a typical day for me:
5:00 - 7:00 AM Early morning work, return emails, draft contracts
7:00-9:00 AM Wake and dress kids, big breakfast, bus stop and preschool drop offs
9:00-10:00 AM Volunteer at school for PTA
10:00-11:00 AM Meet with a client
11:00-12:00 Pitch a new client, return voicemails
12:00 -1:30 preschool pick up, lunch with 2 y/o that is so messy it requires an outfit change, for me, before my evening event.
1:30-4 Hard at work at the home office, working on a new business development strategy
4:00-5:00 Bus stop pick up, homework with 2nd graders
5:00-6:00 PM Dinner with the boys
6:30-8:30 Networking Event

Let's just say I was exhausted and like every other night this week, was asleep on the couch by 9:15 with a glass of wine calling my name. Except I was too tired to drink it. Feeling frazzled I thought to myself, "wait, don't I own my schedule? I promote work-life flexibility, why aren't I in balance?"

DUH! I am in balance, so perfectly in balance that I didn't even notice it! I am doing work I love, spending lots of time with my family and doing things in the community I love to do, like volunteering at school and playing soccer. But here's the thing, I have a FANTASTIC work-life balance but I still feel crazy, tired and overwhelmed. Balance for me doesn't mean strolling to the bus stop at a zen-like pace, noticing the irises that are just starting to come up. It means jogging in heels coming from the office so that I can get 2 good hours in with my boys before I head back for an evening event.

Thinking back, I had another completely non-obvious balance moment. Right after I went back to work when the twins were born I left my husband in charge of a particularly hectic household of crying, teething newborn twins, arrived at the office, poured myself a cup of tea and plugged in my iPod and thought, "My God, they pay me for this!" The point is, even though I was working full-time outside of the home I had some incredibly peaceful moments.

So the next time you feel out of balance, take a look around. Are you doing the things you want to be doing? If not, how can you make changes in your life so that you can be doing what you want to be doing in a way that makes sense and brings more balance- however it looks- to you?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

LinkedIn- The Key to Your Next Job

I've long extolled the virtues of LinkedIn. While some people refer to it as "FaceBook for your career" I've thought that oversimplified it's impact and misses out on it's primary value: 6 degrees of separation. It's like Kevin Bacon is your career counselor!

But today I got an email from one of our candidates thanking me for suggesting that she get to work on LinkedIn. I suggested she beef up her profile, get recommendations from past managers and co-workers, join an industry group and use the SEARCH function to find an insider in companies where she was applying. She took our advice, saw a job posted through a group, applied and started this week.

Doing a little digging, I found a fantastic blog post on Ten Ways to use LinkedIn to Find a Job. If you are looking for a job, READ THIS ARTICLE. If you are looking for new clients, vendor searches, insiders into a company you'd like to partner with, READ THIS ARTICLE. It's easy. It's ten steps. Who needs Kevin Bacon, anyway?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Key is Integration, But Not at the Same Time

Douglas Merrill, former Google and EMI Music executive, has just published a new book called Getting Organized in the Google Era. The key to balance, Merrill states, is integrating, not compartmentalizing the two. And of course the ex-Googlite suggests using technology to make that happen.

A big fan of Google Calendar, I can attest that sharing all relevant scheduling information with the right people (from your assistant to your Boss to your spouse and babysitter) is key to getting it all done. However, I think Merrill's big takeaway here is that you should use technology to combine the two, but single (not multi-task) to get it all done. He describes the physiology of why this work but boils it down to, "there's a big difference between checking your BlackBerry in the middle of dinner at a restaurant with your spouse and doing solo while alone in a grocery line."

For a week, I'm going to try this. I will put down urges to multi-task (e.g. typing an email while dialing a phone number) and will resist all urges to whip out ye ole iphone while enjoying a gorgeous Washington, DC spring afternoon at the park with my kids. I'll let you know if Merrill's right!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My So-Called Wife

A friend passed me a New York Times op-ed published back in January by Sandra Tsing Loh called My So-Called Wife. The author, reflecting a recent trend, is the household breadwinner who has fantasies of being...and then having....a 50's era domestic goddess as a wife.

After some good humor on how much I'd like to have a wife, I surveyed several successful couples in my network, those that make the parsing of domestic work look easy, to identify some rules of engagement. Here's what I came up with:
  1. Accept the reality that one partner will inevitably do more than the other. My unscientific research and personal experiences show that it will be the woman. This is not a gender flaw on men, it's just that the sisterhood cares more about the dirty coffee cup sitting on the counter. Men just don't see the dirty coffee cup.
  2. Know that your partner won't do it your way. Sometimes their way is better, as is the case for my husband's laundry folding and bed making skills. Actually washing the sheets or putting away the laundry, that's another story.
  3. Do the jobs you each do best, or hate the least, and outsource the rest. I am horrible at cutting the lawn, my husband lets paper clutter take over our house, we each do what we're good at. And we've found that a monthly housekeeper is cheaper than therapy.