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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Trying to look busy at work

With all of the end-of-school year hoopla, I'm beat. And, I'm pretty sure I 'm not alone. Whether it’s because you’re easily distracted, unmotivated or just need to take a break from chaos, there comes a point in the day when the work you’re being paid to do must be put aside for a less-stressful activity -- like relaxing or chatting.
But because you don’t always want to announce your not-so-honorable actions to your coworkers or boss, you also need to create the appearance, that you’re actually quite busy. So how do you do it?

The Monster Blog recently asked visitors to submit their creative ways to look busy at work. A few of the best:

· Never, ever walk anywhere without carrying a file folder. Keep at least one sheet inside it; in a pinch, scribble a note on it, and mumble, “Must not forget that.”
· If you like to arrive late in the morning, leave a cup of coffee and a bakery bag on your desk the night before, and keep your computer on. Everyone will think you're there already.
· ALWAYS carry a work-related paper or item in your hand, and have your work-related question or statement ready to execute at a second's notice when shooting the breeze with a coworker. When you detect “management,” switch smoothly to these work-related questions and responses.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How satisfied are you?

A 2007 DayTimers Life Satisfaction survey reveals men and women have different measures for living a satisfied life.
More women have a clear purpose and sense of meaning in their lives. They tend to find satisfaction doing things that help others and they tend to be more organized, prioritizing weekly goals.
More men get satisfaction from personal success. More men also feel they have succeeded more than most people.
In general, guess which is the more satisfied gender?
"It was interesting to see that women, more often than men, state that a number of life satisfaction measurements were true or mainly true for them," said Maria Woytek, DayTimers life management expert.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Launching a flexible work program

How do you start a flexible work schedule program at your workplace?

Dorothy Eisenberg started one at her Miami accounting firm, Gerson, Preston, Robinson & Company. Eisenberg did it by first proving herself that it can work. Then, lobbying her partners to start a formal program.

Eisenberg was a pioneer of a reduced schedule 20 years ago when she went to a 30-hour work week at her New York firm. She was able to get the same schedule at her Miami firm years later. "Initially there was some resistance,'' Eisenberg says. "I told them if they didn't give me flexible hours I would go to another firm that would."

To succeed, Eisenberg, a mother of two, had to provide the same service to clients that a full time tax professional would give. After proving she could do that, she urged her partners to allow others at her firm to try it too. Now, her children are college students, she's full time and oversees staff on flexible schedules - part-time or reduced hours.

"They are responsible and the follow up on their end has been tremendous," Eisenberg says. To contact Dorothy for more information, e-mail her at

To learn more about flexible work programs, click here for the Department of Labor's suggestions.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Angelina Jolie opting out?

Angeline Jolie says she plans to take a year off from filmmaking to spend more time with her children. (read more here) My thoughts: It's about time.
I am all for working mothers. But Jolie has been collecting children from around the world while keeping up a work schedule that takes her away from home for months at a time. Is that really fair to a child who is trying to adapt to an entirely new language and family life? The nation has idolized Jolie for adopting but we've never questioned her about raising these children.
Clearly, she isn't working for the money. I can't fault her for wanting a career. But is there any balance when you are away filming in exotic places for months at a time. Her kids need more attention than most and filmmaking doesn't allow you to be there to run a child to the pediatrician if he spikes a fever.
For now, Jolie is in Cannes to promote a new movie. She says she will take two months off, work for two months, then take a year off. It will be interesting to see if she sticks her plan to "opt out" for a year and whether that decision affects her career. I'll be watching, and keeping you up to date.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Working wives help marriages

Married American women who work outside the home have marriages that last longer than those who do not, according to new research findings.
I am celebrating my 20th anniversary. I am convinced my marriage has lasted this long because I work -- fewer fights over money, more interesting dinner conversation. But these findings aren't popular.
Determining that working wives weren't prompting more divorce was a hard call from some students of marriage and some economists who insist and traditional marriage with non-working wives was more productive.
Stacy Rodgers , co-authors of the book Alone Together: How Marriage in America is Changing compares the attitudes of married couples in 1980 to 2000. As more wives worked, she found a shift to shared decision-making , housekeeping and child care duties. She also found happier marriages. To read more about how working wives help marriages, click here.

Trapped in a Part-Time World

Are you trapped in a part-time world? Who knew that 60 percent of women (and 2/3 of men) who work part time in South Florida aren't doing it by choice!
I've become accustomed to thinking part time work is coveted by women who want work/life balance. But I have since learned through research analysis by Emily Eisenhauer of FIU's Center for Labor Research and Studies that there's a huge pool of part time workers desperate for more work hours. (Read my Miami Herald article). The median income for part time workers is $10,000. These days, who could support themselves on that? Is it lack of education or training or employers just trying to save money?
Here's a response letter from Lorraine Brennan O’Neil, CEO of 10 Minute Manicure: "I am a small business owner who has tried for months to find good full time help. We hire licensed nail technicians for full time employment and offer benefits. We have found it very hard to hire reliable women who want benefits and really want to work. We have run into this problem not only locally, but all across the country. Check out our employment opportunities at
Let me know your thoughts on part-time workers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A promotion is more stressful than divorce

Are there support groups for the newly promoted? Maybe there should be, according to a recent survey of nearly 400 US leaders. These leaders rated a promotion as more stressful than divorce and bereavement--two life challenges that warrant therapy.

What's so stressful about climbing the corporate ladder?
The survey conducted by DDI, a global human resources consulting firm,
found the stress comes from having the challenges of work permeate every part of your life. As employees move farther up the corporate ladder, the more likely leaders were to report an impact on their personal lives.

Also stressful: the transition. Forty percent of US leaders said that their company provides little support during a leadership transition.
Matt Paese, DDI’s Vice President of Succession Management says: "The biggest mistake that a leader can make is to isolate themselves and try to figure it out alone, instead of relying on the network of people around them." To read the full report, go to

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Top excuses for being late to work

If you were late to work today, you were not alone. According to a recent survey, 16 percent of workers say they arrive late to work at least once a week.
Traffic on I-95? A call from your child's school? What's your excuse and is it real? One-in-four of all workers (25 percent) admit to making up fake excuses to explain their tardiness, says a survey of 6,823 workers and 2,591 hiring managers.
Is this okay with the boss? While 44 percent of hiring managers said they don't care if their employees are late as long as their work is completed on time with good quality, there are some that would consider firing an employee who arrived late two or three times in
a given year.
Why are workers really late? The primary reason is traffic, followed by falling back asleep or getting their kids ready for school or day care. Other popular reasons included a long commute, forgetting something at home and feeling sick.
Whose late more, men or women? Males are less likely to be late with 41 percent saying they have never been late for work in their current position compared to 37 percent of females. Males are also less likely to lie about why they're late – 22 percent compared to 28 percent of women. To read the release about the full survey results, click here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How to say no without guilt

Overcommitment. It's a common problem and one that I suffer from.
Thankfully, Miami life coach Pat Morgan has shared a much-needed article with me. How to say without guilt. The article appeared in an issue of 365 Days of Coaching, by Rachelle Disbennett-Lee.
Here are the highlights: Saying no comes hard to a lot of people. If you are not sure if you want to commit to a request, tell the person you need time to think about it. Doing this allows you to check your other commitments and think about how the new task will fit in. If it doesn't, get back with the person and let them know you won't be able to commit.It is difficult to say no when you are in the habit of saying yes. To get used to the concept, practice saying no as often as possible. If you decide that you really want to say yes you can always change your mind.
To read more on the coach's blog, click here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Work/life advice for college grads

If you think college graduates are naïve about what they want from their working lives, you are wrong. They want to find fulfillment in their work. They want passion for their jobs. Hopefully, they will find it because they are going to be working a long time based on current retirement trends.

One South Florida professional, Spero Canton of Comcast Cable Communications (pictured above) offers this work/life advice to college grads: Keep a balance to you life – Careers are important but so are your spouse and children. Be there for them. Even if you have a heavy work load, be there for them, mentally as well as physically, when you’re home."

PR guru Bruce Rubin also has some good advice: "Persevere in the job market until you find yourself doing something you really, really like.
Don't expect to like it every minute of every day. But you should like it way more than not. Your job is too much a part of your life to settle for anything less."
Greenberg Traurig CEO Cesar Alvarez offers this advice: "Ask not what the business you are going into can do for you, ask what you can do for the business." He advises against an employee mentality in which a person tries to figure out the least he or she can do for the business and get the most amount of money. "In my many years in business, I have seen a lot of employees rise and be huge successes but never one with an employee mentality."

Motivate yourself

What do you do when you run out of juice? 5 tips to get going when your motivation is low:1) Walk around (the office, the block, or a nearby park) and look for something positive you've never seen before.2) Set an alarm and work on ONE thing (and only that one thing) for that period of time.3) Open a best-selling business book to a random page and read for 5 minutes.4) Make a list of 5 people you'd like to meet. 5) Buy two postcards of your city, and send them to out-of-state friends (or someone you'd like to meet). New rates: Post Card= $0.26, Letter = $0.41.Just a little bit of action just may get your juices flowing. (These tips were provided by productivity expert Jason Womack,

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Mother's Day gift of time

Yesterday, for Mother's Day, I borrowed an idea from a colleague of mine, Ana Veciana-Suarez. I asked my children to help me plant a garden. To get that done required my son to turn down an invite to a friend's home to play a new video game. It required my daughter to say no to a friend who wanted to come to our home. It meant a gift of their time. Of course, it came with the expected complaints.

My kids picked out what we planted and where it would go. All of us, working together outside in the fresh air were able to create something that I can look at everyday with pride. I can't think of a better way to spend Mother's Day! What most surprised me was how excited they were about what they had planted. This morning, they raced outside to see how their tomato plants and citrus trees were doing.

It's not surprising to me that poll after poll shows mothers don't want material things for Mother's Day. One poll found mothers want me sleep. Others, like me, prefer the gift of time. I hope many other mothers out there received that gift, too.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Passion helps with balance

Want to look professional but can't afford the wardrobe? Meet Nicole Wild, a working mother who runs Chapter 2, a store in Miami's Overtown for people who don't have money to buy work clothes but do have the drive to become financially self-sufficient.
Wild, mother of 18-month old Isabella, says passion makes it easier to balance work and family. "When my daughter was first born, I relied on a neighbor who was a school student." When the neighbor couldn't help, Wild brought Isabella with her to work. Now, the additional demands of travel have prompted her to hire a nanny. But she enjoys helping women.
Wild dreams big as Executive Director of The Women’s Alliance in Miami, which helps women transition from welfare and poverty to the workforce. She even has created monthly education seminars.
It's a personal mission. Wild is the first person in her family to finish high school. Born in Australia, Wild overcame hardship, child abuse, and the loss of her mother to cancer. "Everything I do is to honor my mother," she says.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My gift to mothers

In today's Miami Herald, I gave working moms a gift, along with my admiration: Resources, websites and locales to help them out of their next bind. Click here to read the article.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Do flex hours cause resentment?

A new study confirms what I've been suspicious about all along: there's some resentment toward workers with flexible schedules.
Adecco , a workplace research and staffing company, has teamed up with Harris Interactive to ask American workers their views on working moms.
The results aren't pretty: Most people don't feel working moms have more flexibility in the workplace.
Yet, those moms who do create some hostility. About two-thirds of men age 35-44 say that working moms' flex hours cause some resentment among coworkers. Of course, working moms don't understand why: 44% of moms who work say that flex time helps them be more productive.
As a part-time workers with a flexible schedule, I've seen the glares when I leave well before dark. Who can blame workers putting in long hours for resenting anyone who isn't doing the same. But what they fail to see is that working moms on flex schedules usually earn less, have fewer benefits and are more loyal.
Bernadette Kenny of Adecco sums it up well: "Today, workplaces are more sensitive to the needs of working moms but there is room for improvement.”

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Adoption-friendly employers

The numbers talk: Roughly 64 percent of Americans have had a personal experience with adoption. I am grateful to learn even some small businesses are offering adoption benefits to their workers.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has named the Top 100 Adoption-friendly employers. It ranked employers on their adoption benefits, such as the amount of financial reimbursement and paid leave available to employees who adopt. These businesses with less than 100 employees offer financial reimbursement ranging from $500 to $20,960 and paid leave ranging from one to 16 weeks . Check this out: the average is $4,700 in financial reimbursement and five weeks of paid leave. That's impressive for small businesses ! To read the complete list of companies of all sizes, click here.
Here are the Top 10 Small Business in America
1. South Mountain Company in West Tisbury, MA
2. Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Oklahoma City, OK
3. Miami International Insurance Agency, Miami, FL
4. College Coach, Newtown, MA
5. Community Based Care of Brevard, Melbourne, FL
6. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Dublin, Ohio
7. ContiGroup Companies, New York NY
8. Granite State Credit Union, Manchester, NH
9. ELK Promotions, Worthington, OH
10. StrataG, Knoxville, TN

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Stress is in the air

It's hard to deny stress is in the air. It must be the end of the school year or just the feeling that summer is coming - fast. Bosses are grouchier than usual, my working moms friends are having meltdowns and even my kids seem stressed out trying to wrap up school work.
Here's why I'm trying harder than ever to stay calm: a study has confirmed that stress speeds aging by harming DNA. Intense, long-term emotional strain can make people get sick and grow old before their time, shows a study from the University of California at San Francis.
I'm going to think twice before I panic that I haven't signed up my daughter for summer camp, or that my editor has just moved up a deadline. It's not worth a new wrinkle!

How to become a home agent

E-mails and phone calls poured in yesterday in response to my article in The Miami Herald on virtual home agents. There's a big demand to work from home and this industry is providing legitimate jobs for people who want flexibility or are disabled. There are differences in the different companies -- some have significant startup costs. I believe all of them provide a way to apply online. For those of you who want to contact these companies, here is some more information on a few of them:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Home agents have appeal

When I visited Kim Perez, a virtual home agent with Live Ops, something she said appealed to me. Perez works a flexible schedule, so do I. But what's appealing about her job answering customer service calls from home, is when she takes her headset off, she's done with work! No e-mails to follow up, no phone calls to return, no editors or interviews to get back to later. She doesn't have the benefits I do -- vacation, access to reasonably priced insurance - but she also doesn't have the commute, the wear-and-tear on her car and wardrobe costs.

Perez has a nice telephone voice and a good temperament for customer service. She deals politely with the grouches who don't want to hear the entire script she must read them when they call to order a product. As a home agent, she sets her own hours. The minutes she spends on the phone and her reliability in working the schedule she commits to will determine her pay -- as much as $15 an hour. Perez has been doing the job for three years and by now, knows the pros and cons. For her, it has been a great way to work from home, make money and have some flexibility. Yes, I make more money per hour than Perez but she seems less stressed, for me that has appeal!

(Kim Perez is an agent for LiveOps, go to to see her video)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tribute to Working Moms

All moms work hard, but juggling family and a career is difficult and challenging in its own way. One website I've learned about, is celebrating hard-working moms by inviting them to share a tribute to a special working mom in their life. The site will feature the tributes on Mother's Day and continue for several months afterward.
Here is incentive to participate: The website will make a donation to MomsRising based on the amount of tributes received. MomsRising has a goal of bringing millions of people, who all share a common goal of building a more family-friendly America, together as a non-partisan force for 2008 and beyond. To write a tribute, Click here to access an online form.