The New Revolutionaries
This month’s blog post provides a sneak peak at some of the critical issues we will shine a spotlight on in the upcoming 2018-19 season of our popular webinar series – Thursdays with ThirdPath. Starting in October we will be exploring how to make the impossible, possible – how to promote family well-being AND gender equality!
Brigid Schulte does a great job looking at this in her book Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. In it she describes the web of forces that make us feel stuck in a life that is going too fast – a life that includes little time for reflection and even less time for joy.
But Schulte wants us to think bigger:
“What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? … And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?”
At ThirdPath we are putting these revolutionary ideas into practice:
People who are part of the ThirdPath community are showing us how to push back at overwhelm. They have also discovered, changing their approach to work and family is not just good for their own lives, but good for their workplaces.
Leaders and fathers are a critical part of the revolution:
Click the SoundCloud icon to listen to our conversation with Brigid Schulte and two progressive leaders who describe how they have redesigned both work and family to create more satisfying lives, not just for themselves, but for their whole teams. Or read on to learn how one young dad switched to a four day work week, creating a win for his workplace and a win for his family. We’re so proud to be part of this movement for change – the groundswell of people who are choosing to step away from constant overwhelm and reclaim their lives.
CJ is one of the new revolutionaries:
CJ is one of the father’s ThirdPath has worked with to “redesign” his work so he had more time to care for his children. Our job was to help CJ find a “win-win” solution – one that was good for him and good for his workplace.
In order to reduce his workload from five to four days, we asked CJ if could: systematize tasks to reduce the amount of work required; change who did the work – for example delegating tasks that no longer were a good use of his time; slow down the pace of his work by reprioritizing the deadlines of less critical work.
CJ also noticed how many of his “highest priority” tasks required focused attention for prolonged stretches of time. As the company’s sole engineer, CJ was often the person people came to to ask for help – but these constant interruptions got in the way of him getting his own work done.
CJ decided to talk to the company’s general manager, Molly, about the suggested changes. What CJ noticed was that as he sought input from Molly, they both became more clear about what CJ should really be working on. CJ explained, “I can get confused about what my top priority work should be because everything seems like a priority. I can see where a regular review of what I am doing could be really valuable.”
“In both areas of my work, R&D and process improvement, I have a list that is two miles long. My daily tasks are chipping away at these two long lists. By having too much to do, all that happens is that the progress in both areas slows down. Now I’ve gotten better at asking, ‘What is my biggest priority?’ and, ‘At what rate do I need these things to get done?’”
Molly became an advocate for CJ, even helping him create routine “quiet time.” For example, Molly gently encouraged CJ to take a look at his own reluctance to say “no” to the various disruptions during his designated periods of quiet time. “I do enjoy those interruptions,” CJ admitted, “but my job suffers, and engineering and design tasks get put on hold.”
Six years later we asked CJ for an update. Here’s what he said:
“One of the best thing about the changes I made is that I have more energy at work — which means I’m more productive when I’m at work. I also have more energy at home — which means I’m a better husband and father. Combined with my commute, my work days are long, but then I get 3 full days to focus on my home life. It also means I’ve been able to schedule all personal appointments on Fridays, so I rarely if ever take time off work for personal matters, this is a benefit for both me and my employer.”
Join the revolution.
Want to create an integrated approach to work and life like CJ? This year’s Thursday with ThirdPath webinars will help you do just that. Tune in all year, or download our recordings. Want to get started today? Check out our many resources. Click here to learn more.
Take A Vacation: It’s Time To Recharge Your Batteries
Taking a vacation is good for you, its good for your family and it turns out its good for your organization!
Here’s what we at ThirdPath have learned about the importance of vacation time over the past 15 plus years of advocating for doing work and family differently. You can also listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar where we discussed this topic by clicking on the SoundCloud player.
However – some of us might need to challenge a few work norms to make this happen: the fear of being perceived as an under performer; the pressure to see it as a win-lose proposition – either we meet our client and customer needs or our own personal needs; or the worry that maybe there’s no point to take a week off given the demands to be available while away and the difficulty transitioning back upon return.
But there’s a lot to gain when we push back at these norms.
– Time off can have several health benefits like reducing risk of heart disease, stress and depression.
– Seeing new places and experiencing different things can have a positive effect on our overall outlook on life, providing a fresh and new perspective.
– Time away from work can also help us remember that work is just one part of who we are and remind us that we have friends, family and other life interests.
Here’s a list of ideas to help increase the enjoyment of your time away and maximize the benefits upon your return. For the full list, click here.
Read more …
- Plan vacations around the “seasonality” of your work. Try scheduling longer trips for less busy periods of work and “long weekend vacations” when work is busier.
- Block off pre and post “quiet” work days. Avoid scheduling meetings and phone calls the day before you leave and the day you return to allow for the “unexpected” and for catch up time when you return.
- Create a “what can wait” list. A week before you go, create a list of things that you can wait to get done after vacation, versus tasks that must be completed before you go.
- Decide how “connected” you want to be. If you need to check email or voice messages, plan ahead around what’s least disruptive.
- Carefully define emergencies. Think ahead about what challenges could arise. Clearly define emergencies to avoid everything becoming one.
- Keep track of what worked well. Create a list you can refer back to of helpful ideas for planning your next vacation.
And don’t forget, creating vacations that really recharge our batteries may also require us to change how we approach vacations as a family. Two parents working together as a team to plan and make the most of a vacation, makes it a better experience for everyone. (And while you’re at it, don’t forget to plan a romantic getaway for just the two of you!)
Pauses Increase Happiness and Effectiveness
Are you feeling the need for a pause in your life? Luckily, there is a good deal of evidence that shows taking a pause helps us to live happier lives AND become more effective at work.
As Joe Robinson, author of Don’t Miss Your Life, points out… “Satisfying work and a well-lived life are the result of thinking, assessing, and having the attention to create a better pathway forward. Something no one else can do for us. What you want doesn’t happen on its own. You have to make it happen.”
Following are 8 different beneficial pauses, big and small, that Robinson suggests we start implementing in our lives today…
1. Big Picture Pause.
Set aside a chunk of time, say, 30 minutes this week and then once a month, to think about where you’re going at work and life this year and why you’re going there. What are your work goals? Life priorities? What’s missing from the picture? What do you need to change? How can you do that?
2. Work Effectiveness Pause.
Review tasks and identify ones that are frequent bottlenecks and time-wasters. How could they be adjusted for less stress and more effectiveness?
3. Priorities Pause.
Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the workday or at the beginning to map out the top five tasks on your list for today or tomorrow.
4. Balance Pause.
Each Friday, take a few minutes to assess the state of your work-life balance. Are you out of whack? What needs to happen to have a better work-life fit?
Read more …
5. Recharge Pauses.
Fatigued brains look like ones that are sound asleep. Pause when the pressure peaks, you’re stuck, concentration fades, the daydreaming begins. Take a walk, listen to music, or plan your weekend to build up energy and cognitive resources again.
6. Free Time Pause.
Take time to put together a free-time log for a week of all your time outside work. Where are the time sinks? Where are the free-time slots you could schedule a new hobby or activity? What would you like to do? Salsa dancing? Cycling?
7. Vacation Pause.
Figure out at the beginning of the year where you want to go on vacation and when you want to go. This makes it easier for coworkers and managers and locks them and you into making the holiday happen at the most opportune time, with plenty of notice to make workflow adjustments.
8. Life List Pause.
Take some time to think about what you’d like to do on this planet for the experience of it. What’s on your Life List? Sail the South Seas? Learn guitar? Keep a rotating list of five experiences and start jotting down steps to make them happen.
To hear more about taking a break, check out our “Finding Your Sweet Spot” webinar where we talked with Christine Carter, happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, about her book, The Sweet Spot, How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. In it she draws on the latest scientific research on positivity, productivity, and performance to demonstrate that by doing less we can actually accomplish more.
Want to learn how to implement these pauses and create a better balance between work, love and play? Join our OMG! – Overwhelm Mitigation Group – starting this fall.
Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org. Put “OMG!” in the subject heading and we’ll send you more information.
A Guest Blog by Scott Behson
“I worry that unless my generation of busy involved dads don’t start making change happen, company cultures will remain unchallenged, and more and more dads will have to struggle seemingly alone.” – Scott Behson
Dads, do you relate? As we wait for politics and organizations to catch up with the needs of dads in the workplace, Scott Behson recommends taking matters into your own hands.
Below is an excerpt from a blog post Scott wrote describing the steps you can take to help change our work cultures to recognize dads as actively involved parents. Or listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar by clicking the SoundCloud icon, and hear two dads talk about the changes they made – at work and home – to play a more prominent role in their children’s lives.
Be the Change You Wish to See
If you have the security, flexibility, courage and inclination (I recognize some may have more ability to do this at work than others), here are a few steps we can take in our workplaces to make it easier for dads to discuss and address work-family demands at our workplaces.
- Talk about your family and ask other men about theirs
- Make sure other men in your workplace see you use work flexibility for family reasons
- Take paternity leave
- Start a Beer Fire! Organize a group of male friends or coworkers to discuss life outside of work
Read more …
If you are excited by these ideas, here are some ways you can start integrating your life outside of work into the workplace right now. Each idea is a small but important way we as men can make it easier to discuss our lives as dads at work – and taking these steps will have a big postitive impact for both men and women!
• Keep pictures of your kids/family not just in a small frame facing you on the desk, but in a prominent place at your workstation (an 8×10 on the wall behind you may be ideal)
• During “water cooler” chit-chat with other men, don’t just talk about the latest sports gossip, tell them what you did with your kids last weekend, or discuss their little league games (or whatever)
• Ask other men in your workplace about their non-work life, including their families. Encourage them to share their family activities – like what they did with the kids on vacation, etc.
You can integrate these tips at the beginning of meetings you run or if you are a supervisor and can generate these conversations with men who report to you, that’s even better!
Many dads struggle with work-family issues but, because they do not see other men talking about these issues, many feel like they struggle alone. By putting these suggestions into action, you make it more normal for men in your workplace to discuss family issues, and to bring some of our non-work lives into workplace discussions. These small but important steps also lay the groundwork for making big changes around creating more supportive workplaces for all.
Scott Behson, PhD, is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and author of Working Dads Survival Guide. Scott lives in Nyack, NY with his wife, Amy, and son, Nick. Contact him on Twitter (@ScottBehson), Facebook, LinkedIn or email.
Lets Get Happy
As couples move throughout their lives, new opportunities arise alongside new challenges. Dr. Sara Yogev, author of “A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement and Aging,” helps us understand that building a team at home early in our relationships will help with transitions now AND later in life.
According to Dr. Yogev, couples often neglect communicating about their needs and expectations through large transitions, but being aware of how change impacts the marital dynamic is huge. To keep a handle on big changes, Dr. Yogev recommends “both spouses to take time to think about what he or she wants, exchange this information, try to help each other with these goals and be willing to compromise.”
Following are 10 ideas Dr. Yogev recommends for navigating a happier retirement – many are great tips that couples could practice at any age! Or listen to Dr. Yogev share even more insights by clicking the SoundCloud link to the right.
- Share expectations – Take time to talk about what you both are expecting.
- Address your relationship with money – Get a sense of your “money style.” Are you a spender or saver? Doing this helps you develop a common financial plan even if your styles are different.
- Prepare for mixed feelings – With every big transition, it’s good to remember there will be some things we like, and some things we find more challenging.
Read more …
- Address issues as they surface – When problems arise, avoid the temptation to sweep things under the rug.
- Custom design your days, weeks, months – Use a calendar to make sure both of your needs are being met and don’t over schedule.
- Celebrate your body – Getting into a routine of exercise and eating right is something that will benefit you across the life cycle.
- Celebrate your sexuality – Just like creating healthy routines around exercise and eating, couples also benefit from investing in their connection to each other.
- Retirement inherently requires us to “say good-bye to work.” However, Yogev encourages couples to try working shorter days, or shorter weeks as a way to transition into this change – something Shared Care parents have likely already had lots of experience with!
- Give each other physical and emotional space – Not having set work schedules that keep you apart, retirement requires becoming more intentional about the time you want to spend together and the time you need for your own interests.
- Stay mentally active – There are many ways to stay active in life. Support each other to find new and engaging interests.
Whether phasing into retirement, or balancing work and family, this list reminds us that couples will gain a lifetime of benefits by taking steps to work as a team to meet their own needs and their needs as a couple.
Want to learn more? Why not take a look at our ‘Get Started’ resources page for families and send for ThirdPath’s Work Family Options Workbook.