Tag Archives: work

My Best Decision Ever

I was going to write about my choice of college.  That experience truly shaped the person I am today. I can attribute many later decisions to those 4 years.  However, I could also imagine myself being happy if I had gone to my second choice college.

I was going to write about events that led me to meet my spouse.  Yet, while I can’t imagine anyone making me happier, if I had found someone else, I would never have known and could have been happy, too.  I didn’t even mention children but I’m glad I have them!

Then I thought about choices that led to my current job.  Despite minor complaints, I’m pretty happy with work and I could easily pinpoint good choices that resulted in finding my position and field.  However, my work isn’t  a “true calling” in the sense that I can’t imagine doing anything else.  Since I’ve had several good bosses and many great  co-workers, it’s also easy to believe that I could have landed another job with another company and be just as content.

Then the answer hit me…

It was so obvious….

My best decision ever was moving closer to my work (and parents).  With a shortened commute, I enjoy 2.5 extra hours with my family daily.  I’m more relaxed when I come home and have energy to play in the park, take walks, chitchat about our days, and even exercise on occasion!  In the mornings, I get up later but I now have time to eat breakfast and do light exercises (though it’s usually light stretching and trying to touch my toes!)

Since I don’t battle freeway traffic every morning, I’m more pleasant to be around at work, too.

And no matter where I work, who my spouse is, or where I went to college, I can safely say that a shorter commute is the BEST choice I ever made!

Topic choice courtesy of Ginger at Ramble Ramble.

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!

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!

Mean Girl?

I was going to title this “Someone at work hates me” but hate is probably too strong a word.  It’s more of an “active dislike”.  Using the term “mean girl” is probably also an exaggeration since her actions are not preventing me from joining a clique or making my life hell in any way.  The reason I’m even writing about it is because I can’t figure out why this woman dislikes me so much and it’s a source of personal amusement.

Every single time I walk into the break or lunch area, she will switch her conversation to Spanish (of course only if the other person also speaks Spanish).  At first I thought I was paranoid but once I started paying attention, she did this 100% of the time, especially if she’s talking to her work BFF.  I understand if they’re talking about private matters, even though I really don’t care if she had a fight with her husband or how her kid is doing in school etc.., but sometimes they’re talking about a clothing sale or a TV show and this girl will switch to Spanish!  Her poor BFF usually switches to Spanish but still may throw in some English.   I also noticed that other people might be in the lunch room but she doesn’t switch languages until I walk in.

When I used to greet this woman in the hallways, she would give me a stony glance at best.  She couldn’t even manage to respond with a lukewarm smile!  Ok, some of the higher-ups don’t always respond but she is the only person at our company who has completely ignored my greetings every single time.  I have seen her smiling and joking with others but she can’t even manage a polite greeting with me.

This woman and I don’t work together on a regular basis (or really at all as far as I can remember), so unless something I did something when I first started at this company long ago and made her job difficult, I don’t see how or why she can hold such a long grudge.

I’ve never talked about her to anyone in my office so she can’t have overheard something I said.  Maybe someone lied and told her I said something mean about her? Maybe I called her by the wrong name? Maybe I was talking about a political or societal issue or TV show and she vehemently disagreed and has held it against me ever since?

However, this mystery is one that I’ll never solve because frankly I don’t care and her attitude doesn’t affect me on a daily basis.  I haven’t mentioned this to anyone at work and I don’t want to start investigating the cause as I’m sure it’s something petty and happened years ago.

Have you ever experienced something similar at your work?  Have you had a true “mean girl” experience at work or school? Were you the mean one or the one who was ostracized? 

I will confess now that I once excluded a colleague in a mean girl sort of way.  This summary is a bit simplistic because our work clique was nowhere as tight or mean as it would be in a school situation and I’m not sure I can sum up everything in two paragraphs.  It was just interesting for me because I had never been “in” enough to experience the mechanics of clique-dom.

At my last job, a new hire tried her best to join our little group.   It was very obvious that it was a bit painful to watch or experience.  She kissed up to everyone but mostly to the prettiest one in our group, who would naturally be seen as the “top dog” from an outsider perspective.   I wasn’t super nice to her and excluded her from time to time, but only if I had a good reason (like wanting to have one-on-one time or having something private to say) but I could sometimes tell she was hurt by the exclusion.  Anyway, eventually this woman did become good friends with one woman in the group and they splintered off into their own clique.  We remained on fairly friendly terms despite my initial annoyance with her;  after all we were all there to work, not gossip and form friendships.

Note: I had this post scheduled and then changed my mind, thinking this situation might be all in my mind. Then just yesterday, I passed by this woman in the hallway and she pretty much glared at me, so I’m publishing as is.  

You Can’t Be Too Complacent At Work

One of the things I hate most about work is the competitive aspect. I’ve always been the type who learn or excel for the sake of personal development.  Recently,  with two different co-workers, I’ve noticed subtle attempts to assert their abilities and credentials above others in the department.   

One always attempts to take ownership of highly visible projects, at least to those outside our department. Doing the work is another story.  S/he is definitely the type that would easily throw others under the bus and take credit for work. 

The other person took over for a colleague who was much more collaborative about projects.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it reflects a different mindset than others in the department.  I feel sort of shoved aside on a major project; whereas before I was involved enough on this project to develop valuable skills and be an equal in the event of absences or vacations.   To top it off, in a recent email, this new colleague wrote that s/he is planning projects while I am “working on” similar projects.  The words “Planning” and “working on” convey very different levels and s/he is quite selective with words.  In fact I actually have more experience planning and on bigger projects, so far at least.  I have seen hints of this so I’m not surprise that s/he chose to word it this way to an outsider.

I’m not naive enough to think that my natural complacency is good.  This individual’s ability to connect with my boss and enthusiasm for bigger projects has already led my boss to pass on more boring projects my way. Certain types tend to get promoted.

Have you dealt with back-stabbing co-workers? How?

168 Hours…Family

This series is intended for those of us not in the top 1%, or even the top 10%, in terms of household earnings.  We’re not at the bottom either but we don’t have the money or flexibility of CEOs and executives. 

I wrote about work and now I’m writing about the other side of the equation: Family, especially those raising young children.  Older children are another story and one that I have zero knowledge of!  I felt that by focusing on two major areas that take time — work and family — I could help more people find time in their busy lives. 

The most important advice I can offer besides the obvious “choose your partner wisely” is to divide your chores equally. If you work full-time and also take on the majority of chores and childcare, the work/life balance will become nearly impossible.  If you work part-time or are the stay-at-home parent, you still need to get your partner to be responsible for some chores and I recommend NOT splitting these along traditional gender lines.   Many couples do an indoor (female) and outdoor (male) work split.  While grass cutting can wait, indoor chores tend to be more repetitive, urgent and time-consuming overall.   See this post about cooking for what I mean.

Compared to friends/family who divide chores by gender, I have a lot more free time.  I don’t have to do extra laundry to make sure my husband has clean underwear.  We can both make a good, healthy dinner.   I put dishes away more often but my husband is very capable and willing to do this too. I guess the main reason I advocate dividing chores in gender-neutral ways is that it gives you more flexibility.

It almost goes without saying that young kids and teenagers can pitch in, too.  Tell them that they don’t live in a hotel and their parents are not their servants!

Also, check out author Laura Vanderkam’s blog…her book “168 Hours” inspired this series.