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3 great ways to procrastinate

Categories: Career Talk, Working Women Issues, Your life

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Procrastination gets a bad rep and I can see why. I had a difficult work email to write earlier and I spent a half hour procrastinating — reading Huff Post entertainment articles, cleaning up the kitchen, staring at my computer screen and wishing it would write itself. I wasted a bunch of time, during which the email was weighing on my mind, and I wasn’t the better for it.

But I don’t think all procrastination is bad. Or rather, I think it’s impossible to avoid completely. Sometimes you have a task to get done that you completely loathe to start or are intimidated to begin. There are mornings when I come to work, for example, and feel so overwhelmed with what’s on my plate that I need some kind of a a warm-up to roll up my sleeves and get into the working mode. So my new motto is that if I’m going to procrastinate, I’m going to try and be productive about it. Here are my three favorite ways:

  • Read an article online, but just one, and hopefully not one related to the task I’m procrastinating to do. I often top to the New York Times health, technology, or style and fashion sections to find something interesting. But here’s the deal: Don’t click on any of the links in or around the article. The rule is just one article, then back to the task at hand.
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Confession: I thought I could be a superwoman

Categories: Balancing Act, Working Women Issues, Your life

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One of the most popular topics we talk about here at Work It, Mom! is the fact that work-life balance is a farce and it’s more like a work-life juggle, in which you have to accept that you’ll drop the balls more often than you’ll catch them all. I can’t count how many times I’ve talked to another working mom, listened to her tell me how stressed she is from everything she has to do, and gave her advice to let some things go and not beat herself up for doing 100% in all areas of her life.

And here’s a confession: I’ve often not followed that advice.

I’ve been a working mom for more than 7 years now. And while I know, with 100% certainty that it is absolutely positively impossible to do it all, I don’t think I’ve actually let go of trying to do it all until very recently (and probably not completely). “I can figure out a way to defy the odds,” I’d think, as I cooked at midnight so that my kiddo would have a freshly prepared dinner the next day, or got up at 5am to make it to a spin class at the gym, or worked 16 hour days… for weeks. It’s almost like I had this game I was playing: It was me against the reality that as a mom with a demanding career I was going to have to let some things go. I rarely felt like I was winning — although there are always those absolutely kick-ass days when you feel like a superwoman, you know? — but I kept playing.
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Why bringing your kids to work is good for… them

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Working Women Issues

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A few weeks ago I wrote about worrying that I’m giving my daughter the wrong impression of what it means for her mom to work. I come home tired, I complain (too often) about having too much work, that kind of stuff. Well, I think I discovered one solution to making sure that my kiddo doesn’t think that my work is all about making me tired or that all it involves is my sitting in front of a computer:

Bring her to work with me.

OK, this isn’t a brilliant revelation — I’ve brought her to work with me many times before and she loves coming to the office (scooters, treats, playing with the iPad.. it’s a pretty fun place to be). But today when she was with me at the office I did something I hadn’t done before: I actually brought her with me to meetings where she saw me work. I also showed her some of the Power Points I was working on and we looked at my calendar together when I had to figure out my next business trip.
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Busier job for mom = happier marriage?

Categories: Balancing Act, Relationships & Marriage, Working Women Issues

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I just read about a new study which found that working moms tend to be happier in their marriage when they are dealing with a heavier workload at work.

Say what?

Yep. I did a double take too. But that’s what the study of 169 couples found. Interestingly, the effect on working dads is the opposite: The more work they have, the less happy they — and their wives — are in their marriage.

The researchers suggest that one reason for working moms’ increased happiness when they work more is that their husbands pick up the slack at home. So even though they work more they have to do less at home and their work-life juggle becomes more manageable.

I’m a big skeptic about this, I have to tell you.
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I think moms need to learn to be more selfish

Categories: Balancing Act, Working Women Issues, Your life

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One of my friends is pregnant and the other day I decided to break my rule about not giving pregnant friends advice. (It’s kind of a weak rule, to be honest, but I do try not to volunteer advice to people getting married or about to have kids unless they ask. Unless I can’t help it.) The advice I gave her was this:

Learn to be selfish after your baby is born.

I think my friend was a little surprised when I said this. “Selfish” has a bad rep as a quality and a worse rep when it comes to moms. When I called my grandma to tell her I was pregnant with my daughter she told me to remember that my life is no longer about me, but about my baby, before she congratulated me. I am sure cultures differ in terms of what they expect of moms (I come from a Russian Jewish family), but I think it’s hard to argue with the fact that as moms we’re expected to care for our kiddos first, before taking care of our needs. Forget expected, it’s our natural instinct.

But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a mom is that if I don’t take care of me and do things just for me, everyone suffers, especially my daughter.
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How to make work-life imbalance work

Categories: Balancing Act, Working Women Issues

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Yes, you read that write. The title of this post is not “How to make work-life balance work”. It’s “How to make work-life imbalance work”. And the reason I wanted to write about that isn’t because I have a magic answer (sorry!) but because this is something I am trying to figure out right now. I figured more than a few of you guys have been there, so maybe this can be a virtual brainstorming session?

Next week I am flying to San Francisco for two days and then straight from there to Austin for the SXSW Interactive Conference (anyone going?). The San Francisco trip came up at the very last minute (I literally just booked the last seat on a flight out) and as hard as I tried I could not figure out how come home for at least a day in between. Both of these are must-do trips for work (for a bunch of reasons) and as the result, I will be traveling for more than a week. I’ve had varying degrees of travel required for work since I had my kiddo but this will be the longest period of time that I’ll be away.

My daughter will be absolutely fine — knowing this is a huge benefit of having done this working mom thing for more than six years now.
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The art of the business trip (or how to survive one)

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk, Working Women Issues

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Every three or four months I travel for work. Most times, I’m awake for an entire week.

I did very little work-related travel after my kiddo was born, up until about a year ago. And I have to be honest, going away on business was ROUGH the first few times, mostly because of that ugly monster called working mom guilt. But I’ve learned to (mostly) keep the guilt at bay because well, I don’t have a choice but not to travel, my husband (while he might have a tough week here and there) is a great dad and can totally handle it on the home front, and sometimes (if I am lucky) I can even squeeze in a little R&R while traveling.

I just got back from one of these week-long business trips and this one was brutal. Meetings from 7:30am til 6pm, without many breaks. Traveling to two separate cities. Socializing at night with colleagues whose company I enjoy but with whom I can’t entirely relax. A few other professional reasons that I don’t want to mention, but that added some stress and anxiety. Oh, and did I mention that my favorite hotel for these business trips, the one thing that makes me exhale at the end of a brutal day, was booked so I stayed somewhere not nearly as awesome? (Hi, I am Nataly and I am spoiled by good hotels I get to stay in because I work for a very large company.)

As I was settling into my seat to fly home, I thought about some things I should have done to help make this particular trip less of a killer that it was. Here are some ideas from my business travel experience, please add yours in the comments
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My kiddo, my phone, and work flexibility

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Working Women Issues

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Last week my daughter’s summer vacation officially began. School was out but because they’d used fewer snow days than estimated, it was out earlier than camps in our area were starting. Which meant some fun lazy days for her and some hectic childcare schedules and arrangements for us. On one of the days, I stayed home with her in the morning and we spent a few hours chilling in the shaded back yard, she shuttling between the swings, the sandbox, the bubbles and many fun snacks we took outside and me… well, I spent the few hours shifting my attention from her to my iPhone.

I really do wish that I could have taken the morning entirely and completely off but because of a number of factors, there were some burning emails to answer. (Over the years I’ve learned to differentiate between truly “burning” and just routine, and these were closer to the former, for sure.) I told my daughter that I was going to have to do a little work so she was totally fine with this, but I’m pretty sure that’s because she is used to my iPhone being a full member of our family during weekdays. I am grateful that I work at a company where flexibility is part of the working reality — I can come in late, leave early, or work from home if I need to. But this doesn’t mean that the work stops and my iPhone is how I get it done while I’m not in the office.
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What do you want to achieve in your life?

Categories: Career Talk, Working Women Issues, Your life

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Sorry to start the week with such a BIG question, but it’s been on my mind lately.

I’m in my mid-30s (AHHHHH!) and it seems like I am not the only one among my friends to be asking BIG life questions like “What do I really want to achieve in my life?” I guess it’s one of the things you do in your mid-30s — think about your life, your career, your goals, the goals you had ten years ago, before you had kids and mortgages and responsibilities beyond yourself, and ask big questions.

Among my friends there seem to be two camps. The first group are friends who are married and have kids. The big questions most of them are asking — and I am squarely in this group — have more to do with their career and personal achievement. (Am I on a career path I find fulfilling? What do I really want to achieve professionally?) The second group are friends who are either not married or don’t have kids and their questions tend to be family-focused: When should we have kids? Do I even want to get married? You get the idea. It seems that if the family part is figured out, career and personal achievement step up into the questioning spotlight and vice versa.

OK, so of course there are no simple or short answers to life achievement questions, I know that. But I am insanely curious to find out how you guys think about them (and if you do, actually). Where I find myself looks something like this:
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Woman as main breadwinner = happier marriage?

Categories: Money, Parenting & Family, Working Women Issues

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I was fascinated to read this article in the New York Times suggesting that the rise of women breadwinners has led to happier and more stable marriages. According to the Pew Research Center report, in 22% of couples women are now the main breadwinners, up from 7% in 1970. And in 1/3 of all couples women are better educated than their husbands.

First of all, wow. Second of all, according to the New York Times article, this gender role reversal is having a surprising effect — it’s making marriages happier.

Here are some interesting points from the article that support the idea that when both the wife and the husband work, their marriage is more stable:
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