Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tips for Balancing Work and Family

We're a big fan of the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal, and today's post was no exception. In Seven Tips for Balancing Work and Family, Prerna Sodhi provides some concrete tips for making it all work.

Some of my favorites are:
  • Get Organized: This is huge, because if you're at the office late managing a missed deadline or late to work because you left your laptop at home, there's no hope for balance. I'm a big fan of weekly scheduling meetings (both work and home), Google Calendar, smart phones and never leaving home without a handy dandy notebook.
  • Negotiate With Your Employer: We do this every day on behalf of our candidates, but every employee's flexibility needs are different, and they change substantially over time. Keep your employer's needs in mind, see what you can work with, offer a 30 day trial period, and give it a go.
and finally, what I struggle with every single day:
  • Leave Work at Work. My business partner called it an "occupational hazard,"that for the first time in my life I love every part of my job, and just want to be doing it all the time! I am emotionally invested in our clients and candidates and the amazing flexibility I've created also makes for very fuzzy boundaries. At the park with my boys, I need to leave my iphone in the car. During the dinner/homework/bathtime hours, I need to resist the temptation to answer email. I've made compartmentalization and being "present," both at home and the office, a huge priority for 2011.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flexibility Wins in the Talent War

The economy is recovering, quickly. Today's Washington Post reports that Washington, DC-area unemployment is hovering around 6%, a full 400 basis points below the national average.

We're seeing this every day, reaching out to candidates who say "I got a job last week" or candidates getting 2 or 3 offers when considering new opportunities. The war for talent is on and the companies that offer flexible schedules are winning.

Over the last few years, we've found a great "sweet spot" for mid- to senior-level professionals working 32-40 hours per week with one or more days of regular telecommuting. It provides enough coverage to not upset a traditional corporate structure and respond to client demands, but provides a substantial level of flexibility that makes life work for many of our candidates.

This is how we've helped high-growth companies like Morgan Borszcz Consulting, Natrik Consulting and Zavda Technologies. We help them pull key Project Management professionals from the "Big 5" firms and work out the individual flexibility solution that works for their families (school bus hours, early start/finish, 1 day/week telecommuting, you name it!)

It's how we've helped law firm start-up Clearspire, whose mission is to restore value to the delivery of legal services for both clients and attorneys, build a pioneer team of AMLAW 100, Top 20 law school attorneys. They augment their full-time team with attorneys who work 20-40 hour work weeks using cutting-edge technology to primarily work remotely.

It's how we've helped non-profit organizations like Business Professional Women's Foundation and the National Association of RC&D Councils build out staff and meet organizational goals with constrained budgets: contract employees whose hours ebb and flow with budget cycles and whose subject matter expertise is exactly what the organization needs.

Smart companies and organizations are winning the war for talent by offering the one thing money can't buy and doesn't cost a cent: flexibility.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Now here's something to think about.

Some of the most interesting emails I get come from the smart women whose blogs and newsletters are delivered to my inbox (on a daily basis). Now mind you, I am usually reading these emails in bulk one morning while the kids are at school, trying to cram all the knowledge sent out over the month into a tiny window of opportunity. But somehow I seem to glean incredible tidbits about how to improve my life.

The following recent post from Kathy Harman at Real Results, Inc (kharman@realresults.us.com) resonated with me and the work that we do at Momentum. Can you live up to the challenge? I am going to try.

Finding Balance

BalanceWe hear a lot about Work-Life balance these days; everyone seems to have too much of one and not enough of the other. I think that there is a lot more to balance in our lives. There's the balance between achievement and fulfillment. Let's face it, you probably work just as hard in your non-work life as you do in your work. With all you do and accomplish, when do you ever take time to simply 'be'? To sit and meditate for a few minutes, letting the stresses and demands of the day shed off of you like water. How about time to read more than ½ chapter of a book at one time? Or to simply gaze out the window for a few minutes, appreciating the beauty of nature? If you find yourself way overbalanced on the 'doing' side, work to bring the balance back by starting small: set up an appointment with yourself every day at the same time to sit for 5 minutes of silence, or one hour several times a week to read. Start saying "No" when saying yes means doing more than you need to be doing right now. Even stopping in the middle of chaos to take 3 long, deep breaths will help you to balance

Then there's balancing your attention. Do you even realize how much attention you give to the different areas of your life? Try this: Rate each life area in this table from 1 - 5 with 5 being the highest, for how important this area is. Then rate from 1 - 5 for how much attention you give it:

Life Area




Significant Other



Personal Development




What did you find out? Are you balanced between the importance of that life area, and the amount of attention you give to it? If not, what are some things you can do to bring it into alignment? Again, start small: if you would like to give more attention to your family, how about making an appointment each week for a family fun hour? Or create a new habit of a 5-minute morning appreciation ritual, where each person states the 3 things they appreciate this day.

If all this seems overwhelming, make it simple: improve your balance between doing and being. Give yourself permission to let go of being perfect, of doing it all, of being responsible for the world. Create calm moments each day to simply be aware of all you have, to experience gratitude and joy for what's good in your life. These moments bring such fulfillment that you'll find yourself arranging more time for them. Use a trigger, such as an alarm on your cell phone, or 'each day after I take the kids to daycare', to remind you to experience your calm moments. As your fulfillment increases, your positivity increases, affecting not only your own peace of mind, but that of those around you.

This year, make a commitment to yourself to balance the scales.

My guideline from this: When I balance my doing with calm times of being, my well-being flourishes!

Your challenge for the month:

Determine one small thing to increase your 'being' time, and practice it regularly. Remember that you can create a habit by doing something for 21 days straight, so set yourself up for success by creating a new 'fulfillment' habit. You don't need to suddenly set aside 1 hour a day to do this; start small and experience success. At the end of the month, look back to see how well you adjusted your life balance towards fulfillment.