The Secret Lives of Writers – Cassie Newell

Check out my blog article for The Secret Lives of Writers Series.  It’s about the multiple hats most people wear.  How to marry up those different sides that may not fit by standard definitions.  Defining who you are and not other stereotypes.

The Secret Lives of Writers is a series of blog posts from writers (published or unpublished) who dish the dirt on how they juggle life and art.

Source: The Secret Lives of Writers – Cassie Newell

What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone who is starting to write?  Comment below and remember sharing is caring, this was you maybe one year, five years or more ago.

Happy Friday! Enjoy the blessings of the weekend.


The Work/Life Balance Fallacy

Great post! Ties in with other things I’ve been reading lately. As this blog notes, time waits for no one and having balance is a lie.


When we were children, time didn’t occur to us. All our activities fit perfectly into the day. Unless the sun was going to bed, our time seemed endless, wistfully passing by.

Our parents dealt with our schedules, moving and shifting around hockey practices with dentist appointments. Our lives were handled in their responsible care and we were blissful.

Soon after, we matured into self-sustaining adults with our own work schedules and responsibilities. We began to focus on time; trying to fit all the minutiae tightly in.

Then, we became obsessed with time. We became obsessed with balance. It seems that most of us endlessly sought a balanced life.

However, the ‘balanced life’ does not exist.

One of life’s biggest lies is the notion of a balanced life. Nothing ever achieves absolute balance. Nothing.

Between professional and personal life, striving for that perfect balance is most peoples’ mislead goal that they find…

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Don’t Give Your Job Your Tombstone

Sure all of us do it in some form or fashion, pour ourselves into our careers.  In my field it’s very common that a 40 hour work week is not just a 8 hour a day job.  It typically is up and down depending on the projects, clients, and Balancing work and private lifeadministrative activities that are demanding our time.

It was about 6 years ago, when I was complaining about my job.  I was feeling like my career progression was stifled and I was a working more in a 50 hour a week capacity as the norm.  On top of running myself all around with a two young children, while managing the household.  My company was thrilled with my work, but I was fed up and completely worn out.  Something had to change and I began to evaluate and question what I was doing.  My key question was does the pay change if I worked what’s expected? The answer was no.  Then why was I killing myself?

The problems and issues of the day not withstanding; would be there tomorrow if not answered today, and my compensation was the same.  I finally came to conclusion that when I died, I didn’t want my tombstone to say “She did a great job at company X.”  My resolve was set; below are my tips to ensure I put in my time and move on.

  1. The Wrap Up – Toward the end of everyday (usually 2 hrs before quitting time) I review what tasks are left of the day and assess what I must squeeze in and work to complete it.  If there isn’t anything, hurray I start to assess the next day.  I’m a total technology person and use the task list in Outlook with reminders to keep me organized, nothing like marking something complete – total rush of accomplishment.  If I can get ahead, I get ahead and hope for banking time later in the week.
  2. The Shut Down – When it’s time to shut down, do so without apprehension. Organize your day for tomorrow, file away or clean up as applicable, then close the preverbal door.  If you have a smart device that keeps you connected to work, my policy is I’m done, unless someone calls and we need to chat – emails are for the morning the next day.  Make it a habit.  One tool I use on my company device that is golden is the Do Not Disturb mode set for 10pm – 6:30am.  I line manage, so it’s important for my team to reach me but not while I’m sleeping.  I will get your voicemail in the morning.  Sleep is my coveted activity and work is not allowed in that space.
  3. The Wake Up – Next day, breathe in – breathe out and only review that smart device as you get into the office or if you must at breakfast.  It’s important to avoid reviewing the smart device in bed when you first wake up.  Why? Because that’s your personal time, and you need your routine for you in the morning.  Take the time for you, it’s important.

I work to keep true to my time on the job and add some flexibility when I take a longer lunch or need run errands in which I can make up some time because of the work I do.  I’ve learned better time management skills as a result.  Also, make no mistakes I’m not in perfect compliance on the above, mostly #3 is where I cave, especially if I’m waiting on something important.

In many cases, we are not all working in our dream jobs.  That’s okay, our jobs are the supplement to our lives that support and give us the financial means to support our families, allow us vacations, ability to indulge in other outlets and hobbies.  Don’t make that job more than what it is – give to it what it gives to you in the best way possible.  Don’t drive yourself into the ground if the pay your making doesn’t change as a direct result of the quality good hours your putting in.

Your life should be more than your job and your tombstone should be reflective of that.  You never hear of the person on their death bed wishing they had done more work.

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If you liked this post – In the comments below tell me if any of the tips are something you will use or if you have others what are they?  I’m all about the sharing 🙂

Please show the love and like/share this post.  Love hearing from you!


Full Control of the Remote…Working From Home

Its 6:30 a.m., still dark outside in winter, no sign of sunshine yet.  I go wake my youngest up to get ready for school.  I let the dog out and start breakfast, while catching up on world news.  The time goes swiftly and the kids are out the door by 7:30 a.m.  I finish my routine since my first teleconference doesn’t begin until 9:00 a.m., and let the dog out one more time while logging onto my computer by 8:00 a.m. to start my day at work.

Welcome to the world of the remote workforce.

Businessman hand holds social network

Although, this isn’t a new concept working remotely or telecommuting a few days a week is becoming a hot topic again – reassess – embrace – reorganize.  Last year you may recall Yahoo’s new CEO Banned Working from Home.  Brave move, smart?  I wouldn’t agree with this decision, being a remote person myself.  The rationale for the decision by the large company was one stated as a desire for increasing productivity and a more connected company culture.  There were many comments discounting this decision that it was based on fear.  Fear that if I can’t see you, I don’t know what you’re doing and working on.  That empowers a culture that you distrust your workforce, not a great motivator.  I haven’t seen much in the following year in the news on Yahoo following this decision, but suspect it wasn’t as positive of an outcome as they had hoped, unless it was a way to trim the fat.

On the opposite side of the coin, Dell has recently announced that it wants half of its employees working remotely by 2020.  The company reported that 20% of its local employees in Austin, TX are working remotely and it saved the company ~ $14 million last year alone, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by pulling ~ 7,000 cars off local roads/highways.  A 2011 study by nonprofit human resources association WorldatWork found that companies with stronger cultures of flexibility experienced lower turnover and increase employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement.  Additional studies have shown that telecommuting and working for home is associated with higher productivity.

My day usually ends around 5:00 p.m., without the hassle of traffic.  It’s beautiful.  I can take time prior to dinner to check in with my family.  Take the dog for a walk or usher a kid to their extracurricular activities without stress.  I travel a fair share in my job and my kids love the fact that although I’m working, they can see me and I’m still home.   Working remotely full time is not a “big company” initiative; it works for small and mid-sized companies too.

The advantage I have experienced as a people manager is it allows me to hire good people who can’t move.  My talent pool opens significantly when hiring for key positions.  Additionally, it doesn’t allow me to lose people as a result of their family needs to move to another location.   Where people live is important and having someone move to another city, state, country where they/family may not ‘fit in’ can cause poor feelings toward work and productivity.  Lastly, as a manager I can’t easily know the days’ work of each person, but that’s okay for me because I focus on what they’ve done and delivered.  It’s not about butts in chairs anymore.  Let’s face it anyone can hide away and surf the internet and get caught up in social media in an office or not; it’s all about the deliverable and accountability this is the 21st century of work.  All of my people work remotely and there has been several times where I’m asking them to shut the computer off and walk away for a breather, not the other way around.

Working remotely isn’t for everyone or every position.  The key from a company and team perspective is to commit to the culture.  There needs to be a solid infrastructure to support remote employees and even if only one team member is remote, every person on the team must start communicating online and remotely.  There is no more of rounding people up in the office to make a decision.  Additionally communication channels need to be consistent and explicit.  You can’t rely on water cooler conversations or gossip to spread the word.  Communication is that elephant in the room that most company’s strive to be better at.  If you work remotely it’s your link and connection to your teams, company and colleagues.  So ensure you’re communicating and not just by email.  Email is asynchronous communication for status updates and decisions.  Instant messengers, teleconferences, web meetings, video meetings, etc… these are your base communications.

So what are your thoughts on working remotely? Do you like the idea? Are you working remotely now?

Comment below – Share – Let’s discuss!