Gig tips: Calendaring

I came across the below and I STRONGLY advocate this advice — keeping your work and family calendars in one place:

“Unfortunately, it’s often easier to cancel on your child than on a potential client. Scheduling business and family obligations on the same calendar will lessen your chances of forgetting a personal commitment when you’re planning work activities. It will also help you avoid over-scheduling and alert you if your commitments are unbalanced.”   Source:

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Here are some things that have worked really well for me:  

  • I use Outlook at work.  I color code personal appointments as a separate “color” from other appointments such as internal meetings or client meetings.    That way when I’m at work, I can quickly scan the week/month and visually see how booked we are as a family.
  • If I’m at work using Outlook and a family event becomes scheduled, I send an invitation from my work Outlook account to my personal email account (I add a participant, “myself”, with my personal email address), which then gets sent to my iPhone.
  • Likewise, if I create an appointment from my iPhone (typically a personal or child-related appointment), I “invite” myself with my work email address so that my work Outlook is updated.
  • As an extra step to make sure everyone is on the same page, consider also adding your spouse to these invitations so their calendar has the same information.   I did this in the past and it worked to keep me and co-parent in-sync with what was happening with the kids.

Any other ideas?  What do you find works well to help manage your work and your “life” schedules?

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

Gig tip: IM, email, beware…

Usually your first day on the job they hand you a huge binder or send you to an internal website to read the “employee manual”. Ultimately there is something in there about the use of email and transmittal of information; companies want to keep their secret sauce secret… and also want their employees not to abuse email, instant messaging, and others to the detriment of productivity.

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I used to think that this was really just a crock of bull. Who really monitors these things anyway? It’s so easy to whip out an email and send it off without thinking. But two things in particular during my career happened that will forever change the way I think about what I write on the job and the means and mechanisms of how this content is transmitted.

1. My company does litigation support work. Essentially, law firms at times can hire individuals or companies to serve as “expert witnesses” to provide opinions on facts in a case. There was one such case that my company was involved with – a big one. What does this work entail? Pouring through boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of emails and supporting documents (most of them duplicates), to see if there was ANYTHING ever put in writing by particular individuals that would help shape our opinion on the situation. If ever subpoenaed, your company’s IT department can likely and quite easily pull email records from any individual from any period of time.

2. A friend of mine was Instant Messaging and bantering back and forth with colleagues about anything and everything. This was actually a pretty funny guy and I can just imagine the sense of humor and wit he used with these IMs. Well, apparently there was an HR situation where it became necessary to pull his IM messages and the contents were enough to have him fired on the spot. That’s it. It didn’t matter that he had worked for this organization for 8+ years. Done. Immediately. Give us your employee badge and we’ll walk you to the door, thank you very much.

So, use caution when you put anything in writing on the job. Use common sense. If you get upset and write an email in the heat of anger, just save the message and get back to it when you calm down. These communications are like like writing in stone – there is forever an imprint and trail. It cannot be erased. It can be retrieved.

I like to teach my kids to “use good judgment”. Here is definitely an area where we as professionals also need to use good judgment. Email communication can be difficult. Things can be interpreted incorrectly and messages written in stressful moments can be dangerous. The ease, speed, and permanence of such communications make emails, IM, and other social media potentially dangerous in the work environment.

Does anyone have any thoughts to share?

– Mama K

p.s., again, these kinds of posts are a “test” (I have no kids tonight) so let me know if this stuff is useful or not…

Gig Tips: Some initial thoughts on telecommuting

This is a new kind of blog entry for me.  Last week this time, I would have been talking about a Daily Journal where I was balancing being a mom and going to work.   I would have likely talked about Chocolate Tuesday.  But this week, and every week going forward, will be different for me.  I am no longer in that house with my children on Tuesdays.  I am in a different home.  I will have the children the second half of the week.  

So, this leaves me with some time on my hands. 

I’ve been wanting to balance this blog with career-related information that I believe could help working mothers.   There is so much out there to think about and every now and then I come across something that I believe is REALLY useful.  Also, after 20+ years in the workforce, I feel like I have some perspectives to share of my own.  I also believe that there is a very strong overlap of skillset between being a mom and managing a job/career.   I noticed a sharp difference in HOW I worked after having children – some traits for the worse, but some for the better.  Sometimes managing down to your subordinates, up to your bosses, and across to your peers feels like managing a set of Toddlers…. I see the connections frequently, as I’m sure you must as well.

So anyway, this is a test for us.   This may work out well, or it may not.  Who knows.  But I like trying new things.   Let’s see if this kind of post is useful or mildly interesting for people.  If so, I will continue.  If not, I will focus on weeding my backyard instead.  🙂


The subject of telecommuting is something near and dear to my heart.  I have the very good fortune of working for a firm where its employees are out of the office most of the time for work anyway… yes, extensive travel is NOT a good thing for work/life balance HOWEVER working in this kind of environment has provided me the opportunity to begin the discussions with my employers about the possibility of my working remotely… carving out a portion of my working week where I can work from home.

I am lucky that I work for a company that believes that “people on the go” can still be productive – this is what we’ve built our business on. But face-time is still important in this line of work as well.  Face time can be important when you need to work with teams.   Sometimes working face-to-face is more efficient – and yields much better results.  But, sometimes you have those “heads down” kinds of tasks where it actually is better to be alone – with less interuption – and more time to focus on what you need to get done.

I believe that telecommuting/workshifting has been PARAMOUNT in my happiness; being able to feel productive at home with your work frees up your time, makes you feel more in control of your life, and simply enables you to be there more for your children when need be (e.g., volunteering, still working if your children are home sick, being able to cook a home-cooked traditional dinner on those days, etc.).

So how was I able to negotiate this kind of working arrangement?   How did I begin?  How did I manage to sell the concept to my management?

I do not know the answer 100%.   But I do know that my tenure there meant something.  That my value to the company was worth more than the risk of having me leave.   I approached the concept as a “test”; let’s see if this works for you, for me.  And I’ve worked VERY hard to make sure this arrangement is humming and that I’m not dropping the ball.  It has taken some time to refine, and there were some kinks that had to be worked out – for example checking email even when I’m not “on the clock” so I can respond to clients, communicating to EVERYONE when I am available and when I am not, making sure I am reachable, setting up a proper workspace in my home so that I can be productive….. there are many things that make this work for me.   And I could probably write more about this if people are interested.

I also have one thing to share that I recently came across at  Lister, Kate;, (2010), “”Telecommuting Benefits: The Bottom Line”.

I thought that it was interesting how they decomposed the value of “workshifting” to the individual, the company, and society.  The website is also interesting and focuses on the topic of telecommuting.

Maybe this could help you in discussing the potential with your own employer?   Maybe it could help you to paint the benefit that they could see from a workshifting arrangement?  

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Thanks for giving me the time to read this “experimental” post –

– Mama K

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