Work Life Balance

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Maggie on CBS - The Challenges of Working From Home

Where do you work best? 

Wouldn't it be great if your boss asked you this question?!  Even if he/she doesn't ask, you can create a thoughtful response and bring up the subject yourself.  Be careful though.  In my experience, too many people dream of working from home or the beach but few have fully thought through where they work best. 

Your answer might surprise you. I've been my own boss for seven years and LOVE working in a clean, comfortable, quiet space with a view.  My best work has happened when I overlooked the ocean, a forest or a lake.  I even had a great coaching session from the John Hancock Tower in Chicago.  I need to be my most inspired in order to inspire others.  Even when I haven't had a view of nature, I've painted and framed up landscapes to help me get "in the zone."

But telecommuting isn't for everyone.  Just recently, I spoke with a client who's new dream job involves working from home most days.  Initially excited about the added flexibility, my client didn't realize he'd miss the social interaction around the water cooler.  He's also realized he needs more face time with the boss to build rapport quickly and be included in key meetings.  So now we're working on the right balance of telecommuting and office work so he can make a proper ask of his boss and create the best working scenario.  If you or someone you know could use help figuring out their work situation, go to my Contact page

I recently shared my story on CBS re: the challenges of working from home. 

Working at home with a two-year old running around does not produce the quiet space I need.  Now I do most of my work from virtual office space. All over the US and the world, organizations are popping up that allow you to rent a professional office for a day or even an hour.

Don't wait for your boss to set up your ideal work environment.  If any of this resonates with you, I'd love to hear where you work best by commenting below.  Stop and reflect now. Think about the times when you had your best ideas or felt you were most productive.  What about the environment inspired that kind of performance in you?  Write down your thoughts.  Talk with your boss about it, ask for his/her feedback and create your ideal work scenario today. 


Don't find fault.  Find a remedy.  ~Henry Ford

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dream Job Overload: When Doing Work You Love Leads to Burnout

Stress.  It’s the number one cause of health-related issues in the US. And the number one cause of stress for most Americans?  You guessed it - WORK! (according to NIOSH.) 

Recently a listener to my SIRIUSXM radio show contacted me to share her concerns about stress and work.  Mary Anne Cowen, a nationally-certified massage therapist, is trained and experienced in helping others de-stress.  Yet she found herself falling prey to burnout. According to Mary Anne, (and I agree) having your dream job involves recognizing your stressors and setting boundaries so they don’t overtake you.

Read below for Mary Anne’s story of how she made her dream job sustainable by saying no to others and yes to herself…

I thought, I can’t do this anymore.  I had just lost my beloved 17 year old Jack Russell Terrier Auggie. The last 6 months of caring for Auggie had left an already depleted body, mind and spirit completely empty. I was in a job that I hated. I felt my life was in a downward spiral. 

That’s when an article on massage therapy caught my eye quite by accident. I thought, “that’s something I can do!” I researched and called the two schools in my state that taught massage therapy. One called back. I went to visit the school and everything in my core was saying do this! I listened and went on to operate a successful private practice for 10 years. 

However, during that time I didn’t learn how to say no to helping others de-stress and unfortunately worked (and stressed) myself into the ground.  Yes, the massage therapist burned out.  I closed my practice, not knowing what I was going to do.  

After some time off, I reflected back and realized that I had to say yes to myself. By that I meant take care of my mind, body and spirit.   I soul searched further, asking myself questions likes the ones Maggie poses on her radio show: What do I know? What are my skills? What’s my passion? (That came directly from Maggie when I called in…seriously.) 

I kept coming back to massage Therapy.  That was when I got a call from someone offering me another job as a massage therapist.  I took the leap to go back to doing work I love but it’s different this time. 

The company I work for may push my limits with client load but I have learned to say no respectfully yet assertively.  Getting my own stress under control has been liberating.   I’m even re-opening my private practice aptly titled: My Balanced Blend Massage. What’s different? I’ve learned to say no to others and yes to myself!

Though she condensed her story for us here, Mary Anne’s career journey has taken her through the better part of the last 15 years.  She says that journey helped her realize that she needed to be her own boss and trust her own instincts.  Though she still cares about providing great client service her whole approach to business is different and exciting because it’s sustainable and not stressful. 

If you’re one of the many Americans finding work stressful, tune into my radio show this Friday (Sept 24th, 2010) 4p ET/1p PT on SIRIUS 112/XM 157.  I’m joined by work life fit expert Cali Yost.  Call in at 866-675-6675 with your questions.  Cali will share actionable strategies for getting the flexible schedule and time freedom you need to have a career AND A LIFE. Mary Anne will weigh in with her comments and you can too!

(Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver.)

Posted by maggie at 2:30 AM
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Highlights of My Latest Advice in Whole Living

Great - it's a another beautiful summer day and you're stuck at the office.  You want to take vacation but you're not sure how you'll get it by your boss.  Besides there's so much work to be done - who's going to keep all the "balls in the air" while you're away?  You might be more depressed coming back to a pile of work than when you left. 

These are common concerns expressed by today's highly productive (aka overstretched) worker.  But you don't need to fall prey to them.   

There are ways you can get the time off you need to rest and recharge.  For my top tips pick up a copy of the July/Aug issue of Whole Living magazine on newsstands now.  Not only will you benefit but so will your boss -- according to a study by New Zealand Air, workers coming back from vacation are 25% more productive than when they left!

For more career advice, check out my weekly post on the Whole Living Daily Blog.  This week, learn about some Surprising Findings on the Role of Women & Work.  Think the "gender barriers" have fallen?  Think again.

Post your comments here about career topics you'd like to learn more about.  Got a career question or are sick and tired of your job, I'm here to help whether it's for you, a family member or a friend.  You can ask questions live on my SIRIUS XM radio show every Friday from 4-5p ET/1-2p PT at 1-866-675-6675.  This week, I'm joined by courage coach Margie Warrell best-selling author of Find Your Courage, 12 Acts of Becoming Fearless at Work and in Life.  

You deserve a career that makes you happy and satisfied. How can I help you make a great living? 

 

Posted by maggie at 9:14 PM
Monday, June 14, 2010

Special Announcement: Find My Advice In Whole Living magazine!

"There is no passion to be found playing small-in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." - Nelson Mandela

Having just returned from a trip to Africa, I found these words from Mandela even more inspiring and relevant when it comes to making a great living in a challenging economy. 

To help you achieve your potential, I'm very pleased to announce the launch of my new Career Path column in Whole Living magazine (formerly Body & Soul).  In it you will find uplifting yet straightforward and tangible advice to create the career and the life you've always wanted.  Further details are included in this press release.   

Common questions about changing jobs and addressing job security concerns can be found in my print column as well as online with my weekly posts on the new Whole Living Daily blog.  

Don't settle for less.  Pick up your copy of the June issue of Whole Living on newsstands and log on to WholeLiving.com/blog today.  

Here's to you making a great living!

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

 

Posted by maggie at 4:33 PM
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Work Life Balance - How a Layoff Saved One Man's Life


On my radio show each week, listeners from across the country call in with their questions. Recently a caller asked me to help her husband who had been laid-off and out of work for over a year.  I offered to speak with him to brainstorm strategies to overcome the obstacles in his way.  

What I found out may surprise you.  

For this man, getting laid-off was a blessing in disguise. From his perspective, it saved his life! Read below for his story and the positive work life lessons learned from this difficult experience: 

 

 

--Did you decide to focus on weight loss after being laid-off or did you just naturally live a healthier lifestyle because you had the time?  In other words, was the weight loss a conscious choice or goal? 

I guess it was a bit of both.  I've always been a goal-oriented person.  I make goals for myself, large and small, in both my professional and personal life.  Even my To-Do lists get carved up to make daily goals as to what I want to get accomplished for that day, that week, etc.  When I lost my job, I lost a big part of the meaning in my life.  All of my work-oriented goals just disappeared, and I felt kind of purposeless without them.  I also became very depressed, and with the depression came a loss of appetite.  Because I wasn't eating as much, I started losing weight.  One day I stepped on the scale, and I'd lost ten pounds.  At that point, I decided to make weight loss my goal.  I set an initial goal weight of 225 (from 275) and broke that down into smaller goals.  My goal was to lose an average of three pounds per week.  My first weight mini-goal was 265.  I also made goals around my diet.  I had a daily goal for caloric intake and protein.  I also set goals for daily and weekly exercise totals.  As I achieved one goal, I'd set another.  So, when I did get down to 225, I made my new goal weight 200 and started working towards that, then 185, then 175.  When I was able to do 30 minutes on the treadmill without feeling like I was going to die, I increased the time, or the speed, or the incline, something to make it a challenge again.  I made losing weight my goal and worked towards it like I would any other.


--Now that you've lost the weight, how does this affect your decision to go back into the workforce?  Are you more interested in work life balance than before?

 

I don't know that losing weight has affected my decision to go back into the workforce.  Like most people, I don't have a whole lot of choice in that regard.  I'm not, unfortunately, independently wealthy!  It has, however, given me a new outlook on what my priorities need to be when I return to work.  I know now that I need to make my health a priority.  Where it had always taken a backseat to work before, I now realize that it has to be at least equal to work, and perhaps even a higher priority than work.  I have to make time for exercise, regardless of my work schedule.  I have to eat well, even when eating out with clients.  I wouldn't say that I'm more interested in work life balance than I was before, that balance was always important to me, but my idea as to what that balance entails has most certainly changed.


--Do you have concerns about your health (and ability to keep the weight off) once you go back to work? 

 

I do to some degree.  When I was working, I was traveling extensively, eating out three meals a day, three or four days a week.  That's part of the reason, although not the main reason, that I gained the weight in the first place.  Going back to that will present a challenge when it comes to eating well.  Likewise with the exercise.  It's much easier to maintain an exercise regimen when your schedule is as flexible as mine has been for the past year.  It will be much harder to keep up with the exercise when I have to make time for it before that 7:00 a.m. breakfast meeting.  I've done some things, though, to make sure that I don't gain the weight back.  I donated all of my old clothes, including my suits.  Now, my entire wardrobe consists of clothes that fit me at my current weight.  I didn't keep my "fat" clothes.  I also had my new suits severely tailored.  My suits give me, maybe, ten pounds of latitude in my weight.  Beyond that, they aren't going to look flattering.  So, if I do gain weight, my only two choices will be to lose the weight or buy a new wardrobe, and losing the weight is much less expensive!  I've also realized, though, that living a healthy lifestyle is part of doing my job well.  Since I've lost weight and begun exercising regularly, people take me more seriously, I also have more energy and stamina throughout the day.  Both of these mean I'll be more effective in my job, whatever it ends up being.  So, keeping the weight off and maintaining my exercise regimen becomes, in a very real way, part of my job.  Because of these things, I think I'll be able to keep off the weight once I get back to work, but it is a concern.  It would be very easy to skip the 5:00 a.m. workout so I could sleep for an extra hour, or order the rare steak instead of the grilled chicken breast, and fall back into the bad habits that I lived for 20 years.  It's just something that I'll have to continue to make a priority and be vigilant about.

  

--How has getting laid-off changed your perspective or priorities?  Do you see your lay-off as a blessing in disguise?

 

It's hard to see losing your job as any kind of a positive when you have a mortgage, car payments, etc. to make and no income to pay them with, but, yes, in some ways, getting laid off has definitely been a blessing in disguise.  Perhaps the most significant way it's been a blessing is that, because of it, I'm confident I'll be around to see my children grow up and have children of their own.  I'm not so sure I would have if I hadn't been laid off.  Before I was laid off and lost weight, I was 100 pounds overweight, diabetic, and had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.  I was basically a heart attack waiting to happen.  I could have gone on another fifty years like that, or I could have dropped dead in a month.  Chances are, though, it would have caught up with me sooner or later.  Now, I feel better than I have since I was in high school, and all of my health problems have cleared up.  I'm no longer diabetic, my blood pressure is normal, as is my cholesterol, and my sleep apnea is gone.  My life expectancy has increased by probably twenty years or more.  That's a pretty big blessing.  Also, being out of work has given me time to really think about what I want to do with my life and my career, and reevaluate what I want out of both.  I've discovered that my passion is problem solving, and by tailoring my career search to positions where problem solving is a significant part of the job description, I'll be much happier in my career when I return to work.  Ultimately, when this is all over and I look back on this past year, I think I will see this as one of the best things that ever happened to me, but sometimes that's still kind of hard to see from where I'm at right now.


--What advice you have for others who have been laid-off and want to turn things around to a positive?

 

First, and most importantly, keep busy.  It's easy allow the uncertainty and the loss of purpose and self-worth that comes with losing your job to simply paralyze you.  But with that paralysis comes depression, which leads to more paralysis.  Eventually, you get into a destructive spiral where you're incapable of doing anything, including even looking for a job.  Keeping busy prevents the paralysis from setting in and helps keep your mind off of things, so stay busy doing something.  It doesn't matter what it is so long as it's strenuous enough or involved enough that you can't think of other things while you're doing it.  Second, make goals and work towards them.  Again, it doesn't matter what they are, so long as they're challenging and significant enough to give you a sense of purpose in life.  For me, the loss of a sense of purpose was as stressful as the loss of income.  Having goals and working towards them gave me that sense of purpose back.  Third, take the time to really think about what you want to do with your career and your life.  You have to find a new job, and that takes a lot of time and effort, especially in this economy.  Before you dedicate your life to your job search and your new job, make sure it's the job you want, and be honest with yourself -- maybe part of the reason you lost your job in the first place is because you didn't really like it and weren't dedicating yourself to it fully.  That's a tough admission to make, but if you don't at least ask yourself that question, you run the risk of having the same thing happen to you again.  Finally, take some time to pursue your secret dream.  We all have a crazy, impractical dream we'd never admit to and never normally waste time or effort on.  Maybe it's running for political office, writing a book, launching a music career, or starting a business or charity.  Whatever your dream is, devote an hour or two a day to it while you're out of work.  You have the time now, you might not ever have the time again, it's a useful distraction, and you never know where it might lead.

Did a layoff have some kind of positive impact for you? What strategies are you implementing to keep work life balance a priority?   I welcome your ideas and advice. Please share them here.  

If you have other career questions or stories to tell, share them here or call into my radio show Fridays at 4pm ET/1pm PT on SIRIUS 112/XM 157 at 1-866-675-6675.  Work Life balance is an important goal and I'm happy to help you with strategies for working smarter not harder!

The time you think you're missing, misses you too.  ~Ymber Delect

 

(Photo compliments of http://ruralaspirations.files.wordpress.com.)

 

 

For this man, getting laid-off was a blessing in disguise. From his perspective, it saved his life!  Read below for his story and the positive work life lessons learned from this difficult experience:

 

--Did you decide to focus on weight loss after being laid-off or did you just naturally live a healthier lifestyle because you had the time?  In other words, was the weight loss a conscious choice or goal?

Posted by maggie at 7:52 PM
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time Saving Tips For Work and Play this Holiday Season

Time management can be a challenge during the holidays.  Work demands continue, personal to do’s pile up yet many just want to relax as the year winds down.  

 

The time crunch is being more acutely felt this year:

  • those in jobs feel overstretched (a result of the lean and mean approach by many employers looking to survive the recession) and 
  • those not in jobs feel compelled to continue job searching over the holidays (for more on Smart Career Strategies Over the Holidays, tune into my career segment on Morning Living SIRIUS 112/XM 157 Wed 12/15/09 8am ET.)

To help you get it all done this holiday season, here are some of my favorite time saving tips:

  • Get your to do’s out of your head.  This was a key insight from my interview with time management guru David Allen on Making a Living.  It takes a lot of brain space to maintain a to do list so free up your own mental productivity by capturing what’s in your head and organizing those to do’s in your calendar.   You’ll be better able to focus on the task at hand when you’re not thinking about the other 10 to do’s on your list.  Click below to learn more about David Allen’s very effective Getting Things Done approach.  
  • Start each day with a plan.  When I was working on consulting projects at Arthur Andersen I learned that you need to “go slow to go fast”.  In other words, an hour of planning is worth a week of doing.  It can feel more productive to get started but doing the task correctly the first time will lead to less rework later.  For more great time saving tips from project managers click here.  
  • Overestimate completion time.  Being an optimist, I often plan for the best outcome to my projects and activities.  However, sometimes thing take more time than I’ve allotted and the ensuing time crunch becomes yet another thing on my to do list to manage.  I’ve learned to be more conservative in my estimates and put more space into my calendar between appointments.  And on those days when things go smoothly, I enjoy the extra time by calling a friend or enjoying a quiet cup of tea.  It’s a win-win rather than a lose-lose.

 

You don’t have to stress out this holiday season.  You can make time for the most important (and fun) activities in your life and in your work.   For more time saving tips, join me this afternoon on Living Today 3:30p ET with host Mario Bosquez.  Tune in with this free trial of SIRUS and call in at 866-675-6675!

 

Happy Holidays!

 

"Find a job your like and you add five days to every week." - H. Jackson Browne

 

(Photo attribution)

 

Posted by maggie at 6:42 PM
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Useful Resources for Job Hunting

This morning, I was live on SIRIUS XM taking career questions on job hunting strategy.  I hit on several key resources for those looking for work in case you missed it:

RESUME & INTERVIEW RESOURCES:

--ResumesDoneWrite.com - For those looking for a professional resume writer, Debra Wheatman can help.  Deb and I worked together at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia where she was a recruiter.  From Deb I've learned that every well-written resume has a summary section (a compelling statement about who you are and what you do) and a core skills section (with the key competencies you posses that make you a great fit for the job.)

--Cover Letters - If you want to write a great cover letter, check out this NY Times article called, "A Cover Letter is Not Expendable."  You'll learn that sending a hard-copy second submission of your resume and cover letter can increase your chances of landing an interview.

JOB HUNTING RESOURCES FOR THOSE WHO WANT FLEXIBILITY: 

--Momcorps.com - staffing firm specializing in contingency, project and permanent positions for talented professionals looking for a flexible corporate work environment.

--FlexibleExecutives.com - catering to flexible career opportunities for people in various fields from marketing, to human resources, to finance, law and project management to name a few.

Comment below on your job hunting experience and share any useful job hunting resources you've found.  And if you've been struggling with your job search, don't go it alone.  I can help with one-on-one coaching or by answering your question live on  my SIRIUS XM radio show every Wednesday at 4pm EST.  Just call in at 1-866-675-6675 and get specific advice for your situation.  

If your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt! - Henry J. Kaiser

 

Posted by maggie at 3:37 PM
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Work Life Balance Reality Check

It seems there's always a reason to be busy. When the economy is good, we're busy because there's too much work coming in. When the economy is bad, we're busy because we have to do more with less. Even the actual word business implies that to be productive we have to always be busy (i.e. "busy-ness"). Is there any room for work life balance in this busy work world we've created? 

For that answer and a reality check on the state of work life balance in the current economy, I interviewed work life expert Cali Williams Yost this week on Making a Living. According to a recent study conducted by Work+Life Fit, Inc., work life flexibility survives and is here to stay as employers surveyed continue to give access to flexible work options the same amount or more than they have in the past. 

So flexibility exists, the question is how do you get it? To answer that question, Cali and I discussed some key steps.

--Take Ownership of Your Schedule. Most people would have better work life balance if they made more conscious decisions about where they are spending their time. Cali suggests putting down all of your work and personal commitments into one calendar so you can truly see what you've committed to. Once you know where your time is going, you can be more conscious about spending time on top priority work and personal activities. 

--Be Proactive. If you want a flexible work arrangement, its best if you go to your boss with options. Most managers are too busy themselves to focus on how to best manage your work/life. You know your job best so come up with a better, faster or cheaper way to get work done in a way that fits your flexible schedule and your boss will be more apt to say yes.

--Think Fit not Balance. Cali is famous for revolutionizing the way we look at work and life. She says that balance presents an all or nothing approach that is unrealistic for most people. She recommends instead to focus on finding the right fit between work and life that suits your needs not some 50/50 standard. 

There's more to making a great living than just being busy. In fact, if it's not about being busy at all. It's about making conscious choices about how you spend your work and personal time so you are always doing what's most important to you! 

For more work life tips join me for the next Making a Living with Maggie on Wednesday at 4pm EST. I'll be talking about ways you can be most productive and work smarter not harder.

Posted by admin at 3:28 AM
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Career Advice for Working Moms

According to Harvard Business Publishing, 75% of women of child-bearing age (24 to 44) have a job or want one. As a career coach, I help many moms work smarter not harder. Use these simple strategies to keep your career on track while still being a super mom:

1. Keep networking. With all the demands on their time, most moms find they network less and less. By losing touch with your company or your industry you run the risk of missing out on opportunities. Instead, resolve to attend a minimum of 3 networking events a year and choose wisely. High profile events, industry-wide events and company events are great. Don’t forget your child’s games and practices too. Learn what other moms and dads do for a living and share contacts. Your next great career connection might be closer than you think.

2. Advocate for yourself. The fastest climbers up the corporate ladder are not the ones who do the most work. Rather they work strategically, focusing on work that impacts the bottom-line and gets them noticed. Whether you’re VP or mailroom clerk, you have the chance to make a difference. Don’t just do what you’re told. Come up with new ideas and strategies to get work done and save the company money. And let the higher-ups know about it when you catch them in the elevator.

3. Delegate. Getting it done right doesn't always mean doing it yourself. In fact, if you want to get more done in less time you need to delegate effectively. That means finding resources who are qualified, whom you can train to do work for you. Interns are a great option. They are eager to learn and don’t mind doing a lot of different tasks. But always make sure to have the delegatee repeat back the assignment; that way you can avoid any miscommunication and ensure the assignment is done right.

For Moms returning to work, check out my recent video on How to Rejoin the Workforce After a Break from Motherhood.

And if you have a working Mom you'd like to thank, share your comments here. I thank my Mom for showing me how to make a great living doing what you love. You see, she went to medical school after having 3 kids and with the support of my Dad and grandparents, achieved her dream too. Tell me about your Mom and what she taught you about having a great life and career. Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by maggie at 9:27 PM
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Ways to Avoid Layoffs, Today at 4pm EST SIRIUS 112/XM 157

Layoffs actually cost companies more than they save.

That's according to Work Life Fit expert Cali Williams Yost, my guest today on Making a Living with Maggie (SIRIUS 112/XM 157 4pm EST). To tune in using a free trial of SIRIUS, click here.

Last week, during her interview on Public Radio International's The Takeaway, Cali highlighted that managers think firing someone who makes $50,000 a year saves $50,00a year, but the research shows it's costing them between $75,000 and $125,000. Cali advises companies instead to use flexibility, such as reduced schedules/salaries, adding unpaid vacation days, furloughs/sabbaticals, etc., as a better approach to reducing labor expenses because it preserves the profit-generating productivity and engagement critical for recovery. Click here for more details in Cali's blog post.

Unfortunately many companies are turning to layoffs to save costs at this time. If you or someone you know has been let go from a job recently, there are steps you can take to recover. Join me tomorrow (Thurs, March 19th at 8pm EST) for a one hour webinar on Leveraging Change to Move Your Career Forward. Click here to learn more and email me at maggie@maggiemistal.com to sign up.

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. ~Author unknown

Posted by maggie at 9:32 AM