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How You Can Say No at Work

Your Masterclass In Leadership Courtesy of the Pandemic

It’s hard to say no at work. And pushing back during a global recession, may feel career limiting, if not career ending. Mel Robbins, Personal Development Expert and Best-selling Author, shared how to set work boundaries during her session at the Massachusetts Women’s conference last month. She shares how to say no, improve your productivity and elevate your leadership skills.

Mel wisely reminds us that change creates opportunities. But keeping a positive mindset is critical for the resilience we need to seize them. “As we’re all learning in this pandemic, we’re not stuck where we are,” Mel said. “I think one of the biggest opportunities when it comes to managing your mindset, particularly for success, happiness and feeling like you’re still in control, is realizing that everything is pivoting out there.”

Stay Nimble

Pivots, a rapid change in direction, abound in the pandemic. It’s dizzying but there’s an upside. Mel explains, “Have the confidence to try new things, to pivot, experiment and adjust course. Make sure that you are going up and down, with the up and down changes.” Yes! Although the increased mental load makes it difficult, she recommends how to reclaim space for focused work by Continue reading “How You Can Say No at Work”

The Great Quest for Milk: 3 Ways to Reclaim a Positive Mindset, from Mel Robbins

“The challenge right now is focus and motivation. You may think, ‘why can’t I just tune it out?’ But it’s not you. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s very difficult to focus on things that matter,” said Mel Robbins, Author and personal development expert, at the Massachusetts Conference for Women.

The pandemic has pushed us past our cognitive limits. And she shared three simple rules to help us regain some control. She went onto explain one of the reasons we’re struggling to concentrate and practical steps we can take, “You’re experiencing something right now that psychologists call, moral fatigue.”

Moral Fatigue Zaps Energy (and Motivation)

Moral fatigue, is like the mental load’s evil cousin. Our brains are not comfortable with having every decision, including small ones, carry life threatening consequences. And in Covid-19, when ‘normal’ activities bring the risk of illness or death, it’s draining. Mel said, “If you’ve got parents or relatives that you’re worried about living through this pandemic, while working from home and doing everything that you’ve been doing, it requires more mental fuel for your brain to get through the day.” Right. Why aren’t we used to this by now?

When Getting Milk, Got Complicated

Mel explained why, “So, Continue reading “The Great Quest for Milk: 3 Ways to Reclaim a Positive Mindset, from Mel Robbins”

Do More Than Talk About Mental Health at Work

Leaders are you Listening?

When over 1,200 surveyed parents, mostly Moms (95%) were asked, what they need to improve wellbeing or productivity, the answer was often the same. Mental healthcare, either for themselves, their partners or children. It’s among the most requested needs, along with greater work flexibility and childcare.

Covid, a health crisis with a twist of recession, has leveled entire industries. And employers are scrambling to respond. Everyone craves clarity and focus in light of the new professional challenges. Which only increases pressure for working parents when burnout is high and resilience is low. What can compassionate leaders do?

Employers Can Jump into the Void

Mental health has always been tricky. We celebrate exercise, yet rarely champion the ongoing effort for emotional wellbeing. And before the pandemic, most employers were reactive about the whole topic.

Maybe it’s because so many factors effect mental health. But pre-Covid, 65% of US employees cited work as a significant source of stress. So, positive work Continue reading “Do More Than Talk About Mental Health at Work”

What Happens When You Break All the Work Rules?

“I could see that work wasn’t working for people,” said Eva Dienel, Journalist and sustainable work expert. She added, “So, when I met (my husband) Adam, we started talking very early in our relationship about building work around our lives rather than letting work determine the lives that we were stuck with.”

Although burnout damages health and productivity, our culture rewards the behavior that drives it. And careers, woven with identity, become full of emotional landmines. It’s hard to untangle our real desires, from how we’re conditioned to think. And post-kids when we need reliable income, schedules and benefits, the work choices narrow.

Modern careers leave little space for caregiving or passion pursuits. And Eva knew she wanted meaningful work without the confines of corporate life. But leaving a traditional job is a counter culture move that’s often met with Continue reading “What Happens When You Break All the Work Rules?”

Care for the Caregivers: Work Flexibility in the Era of Covid

What Employers Need to Know

“…I am working 12 hour days right now remotely and barely have time to feed people let alone do a good job keeping the kids schedules organized.”

“Understanding from work that we need to reduce our hours to support homeschooling. And support our children.”

Since late March, over 1,000* parents, primarily Moms (94%) have anonymously shared the pandemic’s impact to their work and lives. Most are working from home (71%) without childcare or on-site schools for their children (70%.) When asked, ‘what should their employer change’ overwhelmingly, they want variations of the same theme, flexibility.

They need discretion over how many hours and when they work. Ideally, in the form of: flextime and/or hours, sick leave, increased personal and/or paid time off.

Captivity is Officially Over

“Longer lunch break since I’m not only catering to myself for lunch.”

“Flexibility for kid wrangling times.”

Work has always revolved around captive time. Usually in an office or building. And pre-Covid, we were paid for hours of Continue reading “Care for the Caregivers: Work Flexibility in the Era of Covid”

What Working Parents Want Their Managers to Know

Over 1,000* surveyed parents, primarily Moms (94%) were open about what they need from work for their productivity, wellbeing and happiness. Most (70%) have had their childcare disrupted by the pandemic and crave understanding. And yes, that includes more flexibility and control over their time so they can care for their children and themselves.

“Less check-in meetings. Just trust the job will get done.”

“…I still have the same 35-hour workload of meetings and manage staff and my husband is having to take over care for our one-year-old on top of his project-based work.”

“…In many ways I feel for my employer and understand that you can’t make exceptions for those with or without kids. However, I do think less meetings would be helpful and give parents flexibility on time. A four-day work week would also be great!”

“Lower expectations with lowered staff (had layoffs but same expectations). Offer more flexibility, (there’s) no need for 9 am to 5 pm in the digital world.”

Most parents can’t maintain the habits of overwork that are common in our culture. And non-stop work, wasn’t healthy or effective for peak performance anyway. But as the recession deepens, many choose to quietly endure Continue reading “What Working Parents Want Their Managers to Know”

How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home

“Today is different from yesterday and this week is different from last week. You can have some kids in school but if the County is on a watch list for Covid, then you can’t be in school. And, if there’s anyone in the community that gets Covid, then everything has to shut down and go virtual for two weeks. I get what they’re trying to do but it’s very fluid and not super helpful,” said Alexis Haselberger.

A lot of us are in the midst of or planning for back-to-school pandemic-style. Hybrid schedules. On and off days, lunch at home and no transportation. Back to school was always a high-stakes time of transition. But this year’s lack of consistency and threat of Covid-19, is a recipe for mental load stress. And productivity, for even the most seasoned work-from-home parents, has been flipped upside down by having the kids at home. I asked Alexis a productivity expert, for smart strategies to set this season of work-and-school-from-home, up for success.

Where Are You Right Now? Start There.

Although it’s true, it was hard before and it’s become harder, Alexis suggests starting with today. The current conditions do not resemble what once was. She said, “The mental framework I’ve been using is to ask, ‘what is working and not working right Continue reading “How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home”

Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better

Let’s not conflate childcare and school. Working parents need both and always have. It’s true, most Americans with children over the age of 5 have relied on school as their primary childcare. But, the frequent holidays and mid-afternoon pickup, meant it was a partial solution at best for most workers. And having a credentialed expert, to expand your child’s mind, is not the same as keeping them fed and entertained.

Covid-19 has disrupted childcare arrangements for the overwhelming majority of over 900 surveyed parents* (71%.) Despite their need to continue working (84%) mostly from home (72%) with their kids.

“Non-stop days of homeschool followed by long evenings/weekends of work and making sure kids eat healthy, learn, get outside and feel ok while balancing a very demanding job.”

“It’s the unknown. Will the kids go back in the fall? How to balance their work and mine…”

“The expectation that work output should not be impacted despite having to care for my child full time. I stay up really late every night now to fit in the work hours.”

“Not being able to send my child to school or activities while I work. I must keep my child home to protect the family from COVID, sacrificing my ability to Continue reading “Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better”

What Parents Need to be Productive Through the Pandemic

“… I’m physically, mentally and emotionally drained. I DON’T want my kid to remember very much from this year at all.”

“I feel torn between meeting my kids social and developmental needs and completing my work to the same level as (I would) in the office.”

In new research, over 750* surveyed parents, primarily Moms (95%) have shared how the pandemic has changed their lives and what they need to get to the other side. They are overwhelmingly working (85%) without childcare (70%) while doing more of everything.

The Desire for Productivity

Most surveyed parents expressed that productivity during Covid is unrealistic. But they are desperate for relief and time to maintain their work. Or search for jobs. And everyone has to manage household, health and family life with less support. So, trying to optimize the precious time they have is unavoidable.

When asked this question, ‘what do you need to be more productive right now?’ surveyed parents were candid.

They Mourn the Loss of Physical & Emotional Space

Many surveyed parents crave the impossible, “more hours in the day,” preferably “alone” somewhere, “quiet.”  Most are caring for their children while squeezing Continue reading “What Parents Need to be Productive Through the Pandemic”

It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better

Takeaways from ‘The Working Mom’s Playbook to Quarantine’ Panel Discussion

We learned how to compartmentalize work for sanity, presence and productivity but the separation is part of what makes it hard. Hiding the messiness of child-rearing from work and the appetite of work from our families, was tiring.

Now we’re trying to work, find work or start businesses during a pandemic and cultural revolution. Samantha Skey moderated a thoughtful discussion during last month’s BlogHer event with Super Mamas Karolina Kurkova, Eve Rodsky and Dara Tresseder.

They shared what they’ve embraced amidst the chaos and the need to change our systems at home. Now is a tumultuous yet perfect time to reexamine everything we’re doing. Remember, most of us were not emotionally or physically well before COVID19.
Continue reading “It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better”

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