Category Archives: work

Another update on Things I should I should..this time with some progress

Back in June 2012, I wrote down things I should do. Here’s an update.

Find a way to access a book I downloaded to my tablet.  YES, I now borrow e-books from the library on a regular basis

Plant those tomatoes.  NOPE

Donate that bag of clothes and other random stuff.  YES, but still more stuff needs to go!

Finish those blog posts about work/life balance.   DONE

Various Tech Stuff, like backing up pictures to the hard drive and setting up a wireless modem.  YES, set up the damn wireless modem, or is it called router? 

Go through all my magazine clippings and actually do something about it.  Joined Pinterest instead

Now I have new things to add…

Look into life insurance. LOOKED into it but didn’t do anything about it.

Write a will. (I suspect that I will have to get around to this one!) Haha, NOPE

Create a Shutterfly album. YES, actually got one printed

Recycle batteries and electronics. YEP

Put away winter clothing and blankets. It’s that time of year again.

Get heel taps for new pumps. NOPE, now these pumps are no longer new.

 

Now I got to go..my to-do list is mile long.

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Frugal Substitutes: Less Tongue In Cheek Version

A few months ago, I created a fun chart about possible frugal substitutes.  The idea was that you can replace pricey wants like vacations and massages with cheaper options that fulfill the same need.  Looking back, the intent was good but I’ve totally ignored my own advice for the past few weeks!

I went on a short trip.  I bought a new computer. I got a massage. I went shopping. I bought some clothes and a new purse.  AND I keep browsing online shopping sites.  In short, I have been choosing expensive wants instead of examining the reason behind my sudden desire to buy, buy, buy.  The only possible exception is eating out but my husband and I did some of that, too.  It just hasn’t been a budget buster because we still eat home most days or tend to choose inexpensive places when we do go out.

I cannot justify my choices but I really needed a vacation!

 

My Balance Now

Before I moved closer to work, I had an hour drive to and from work.  I re-read my 2012 post that went into depth about how I balanced work/life and thought I’d update it.  Sometimes I can’t believe I endured this commute for so long.

1.  What’s your work schedule?

Before: I got up at 5:15 to 5:45 to get to work on time.  I got home by 5:30-6 pm., usually exhausted with an aching back.

Now: I get up around 6:25 and get to work on time.  I often have time for breakfast and light stretching/exercise!  My drive is 30 minutes tops (usually faster in the mornings when fewer people are on the road).  I get home by 5pm. Sometimes I even hit the gym or go to the park with the kids.  According to co-workers, I’m also less grumpy in the morning!

2. How do you handle childcare?

Before: Part-time nanny, freelancing husband with flexible schedule and more time at home.

Now: Still part-time nanny on occasion who does light housecleaning, plus A LOT of help from my mom.  My husband’s schedule and travel has picked up, which leaves me taking more time off for doctor appointments, illness and such. Pre-school pick-up is a pain to manage.

3. What do you find best about your current set-up?

I love my shorter commute which has resulted in more energy and quality time with spouse, self and kids!  I love getting more help from my mom since she is amazingly good and flexible with her schedule.

4. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?

It’s not really about working or not. It’s really about flexiblity. Even within the restraints of a traditional 9 to 5 job, I know I’m fortunate that my boss is understanding about childcare issues as long as I manage to meet deadlines.

I still stand by my love of online shopping: Order as much as you can online.

And I’ve converted to the dark side — smartphone with tons of apps. It’s the only way I can keep track of my emails and shopping lists. My husband and I communicate quickly via text, emails and shared shopping lists, too.

I’ve been taking some vacation days to do a mommy-and-me class with my kids on weekday mornings. It’s shorten my work hours which is nice on a mental level BUT also forces me to eat at my desk some days to get all my work done.  I love using that time to  learn and play with my kids alongside mostly stay-at-home moms or grandparents.  This alleviates a lot of mommy guilt because I have more hours with my kids overall and don’t have to cram all the fun stuff on weekends.

5. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than men?

Yes.  I’m actually guilt-free and good at ignoring snippy comments but I do spend more time cleaning the house and thinking/planning kid-friendly activities.

Feel free to chime in with details about how other women (and men) handle the work/life juggling act!

What The Most Successful People Do At Work

I’m in the middle of reading Laura Vanderkam’s new e-Book “What the Most Successful People Do At Work“, a series that follows two previous e-books about what successful people do before breakfast and on weekends. All of these short books are meant to be quick, informative reads. I think they’re all very enjoyable and most people can get good tips from them. Because work is so busy right now, it’s taking me much longer to read this! For now, I will say that I was struck by the example of a successful children’s book illustrator in Chapter 1, as I expected the successful people profiles to hail from the corporate world. I wasn’t sure if I could relate but considering that there are tons of small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers out there AND the fact that in many ways, in the current work world, we’re all freelancers that need to plan and prove our worth daily, I think the illustrator can be a good example for all of us. Right now the main take-away I’m getting is the importance of planning the day and your workload. I enjoy taking on bigger projects that require thought and strategic planning but it seems like most of my workday is taken up by immediate needs (and emails!).

Anyway, I would recommend this book. You can buy it yourself today and you’ll probably finish it before I do!

How I’m Doing On Goals and Pseudo-Resolutions

I resolved to focus on my career, bought an interview suit, and am now on the fence about even looking.  My reason for this change of heart is that I want to enjoy my shorter commute and low-stress job. It’s not that my job is without its stresses and deadlines;  it’s just that I’m a seasoned pro here who knows my job well, including short cuts and knowing the right people to ask for help in most situations. Any new job entails a learning curve and possibly longer work hours and the main reason for our move was to increase my time with the kids.

What I have done:

  • I sort of updated my Linked In skills/profile.
  • I read one or two articles related to my field.  It’s a struggle as I’m constantly tempted by other reading materials.  Now if I can apply what I read to my work, that would be a bonus.
  • I emailed my boss about upping the game in terms of building my skills at my current job. I figure that if I’m too lame to make a serious move and check outside options or go for higher titles, then I should make the most of my current situation.

Still, it feels like the new suit hanging in my closet is a constant reminder of my backpedaling ways!

In other areas:

I ate french fries two days in a row.  I didn’t make a resolution to eat healthier but eating worse is never a goal of mine!

I have not stepped into my gym in months.

I have prepped dinner a few nights but still find it a challenge to make the most of my extra half hour per night.

I am trying to not let the house fall into utter disorder/mess before cleaning.  I sweep up almost daily and try not to let things pile up.  This is good in a way as I’m learning that big cleanings are a bigger chore and headache.  The not so good part is that I end up doing more cleaning overall.

I have snapped at my husband (and others) much too often.  Not doing well in terms of appreciating loved ones.

I’m still a stressful basket case at times (though no longer due to traffic and commute!)

I have done some armchair activism but nothing more.

I signed up for a class — nothing related to work, just fun time with the kids.   I can’t wait…

I’m taking a photo a day. It’s not about being creative or artistic, although I try my best. It’s about documenting the small things in life from a messy sink to messy desk to a messy family life.  A mess is what I got…

So even though I didn’t officially make resolutions, in the back of my mind, I still have some goals that I’m trying to achieve..or not.  How are you doing on your goals and resolutions?

2013 Goals: It’s All About Career Focus

Last year, I tried to address my fears, from dancing in front of strangers to trying the crock pot.  That was a fun resolution but nothing that I would worry about if I forgot about it by the mid-year mark.  In 2013,  however, I’ve decided to seriously focus on my career.  I’ve noticed not-too-subtle signs that my reputation at work has fallen.  I don’t get the big, showy projects.  I am loaded with more repetitive “grunt” work.  Someone thought I had the time to join the party planning committee.   Unless I re-invest in my career capital (read Cloud’s great post about career capital), I think I’m in danger of phasing myself out of a job.

So here are my 2013 Goals:

Read Career-related articles at least once a week or more!: As Cloud suggested, it’s a good idea to use your lunch hour or at least half of it, to read up on career-related articles.  Although this sounds easy, it’s much easier for me to spend that time reading glossy magazines or books!

Attend 1 career-related event or seminar: There are many conferences related to my field and I don’t really think they can help my career.  However, it doesn’t hurt to attend one or two.  You never know who you’ll connect with!

Learn A New Skill, or Improve Current Skills: I hope to do this at work.  Taking Revanche’s advice, I’m going to take the initiative to ask my boss for more challenges.

Start A Side Business! This is a big one as well as a tricky one because it involves family.  A side project is a perfect opportunity to stretch my skill set and test out the effectiveness of my ideas.  However, it’s also likely that this will go nowhere unless I act more like a hands-on business partner than a consultant.

Update C.V. and Linked In: It’s time to dust off that old C.V. and make sure all my current skills and accomplishments are there.  I also need to look at job listings and see what’s out there.  It may simply be time to move on and start fresh.

Do What You Love?: I would also like to take a moment or two to think about what really makes me happy at work, and to think about my next career move.  Part of me thinks I can stay in my field until retirement age,  but another part of me thinks that I probably would need to re-invent myself later in life.

I also want to take this time to thank Revanche, Cloud, Nicole&Maggie, Hush and many others who have chimed in with career-related advice from time to time.  I realized that I only have one real-life friend who I can discuss this topic with, and when we meet in person, we have so many other things to talk about that career isn’t top of the mind. I can’t really talk about this with my freelancing husband because he doesn’t quite have the understanding of long-time office politics, AND any talk of job insecurity will freak him out.  So, thanks all!  If not for you guys, I probably would have remained too complacent about my career.

Are you thinking about your 2013 resolutions/goals yet? Any ideas that I could add to my list above? 

BTW, I need to print out this post or I’ll probably forget my own resolution by mid-year!

Gulp…Fear of Public Speaking

This year, I am going to unwillingly address my fear of public speaking.  This is a challenge I’ve taken on and off in the past but no matter how often I practice, it’s never going to be a favorite activity.  My speaking stint is minor and not a big deal for anyone who’s even slightly comfortable with public speaking but I don’t even like leading large meetings.  I think it’s a combination of little practice and the difficulty of having a softer voice that doesn’t project authority.

For this particular work event, I’ve taken on a bigger role and this includes some time in front of a microphone.    I do believe that people who are good at public speaking tend to fare better in the work arena, so it’s probably good for my image to do this.  However, I am under no illusion that this will translate to a larger salary or title, as I have had periodic moments in the spotlight and I think my “image” at this company is pretty set.

I plan to have a general outline of what to say but also “wing it”, which seems counter-intuitive for someone with stage fright.  However this method has worked for me in the past.  If I have a script in my head, I actually get more nervous; I rather speak naturally.  I have also noticed that one of the most best speakers at our company isn’t afraid to stumble a bit or pause to find the right words.   In other words, just having confidence goes a long way.

Do you fear public speaking? Any useful advice on how to tackle this common fear?  

Side note: I honestly don’t know how people can easily give speeches at weddings or funerals.  I think those situations would be easier than a work function but I really don’t like it when all eyes / ears are upon me.