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Tag Archives: work life balance

Productivity tools for leaders

Brand-new video series for 2020

I’m so excited to kick-off another brand-new video series for 2020.  For the last few years, I’ve focused on a different subject each year.  Last year the topic was “How to develop and grow your people” – we did 25 videos.  And in 2018, we put out 33 specific tips on how to motivate your employees.  So this year, I’m going to focus on … drum roll please … Productivity tools for leaders.

In my leadership training and mentoring practice, a frequent refrain I hear from my clients is that they start their days with the best of intentions only to get to the end feeling like they’ve gotten nothing substantial accomplished.  So you tell me.  Have you ever felt that a full day has gone by, yet time seems to have escaped you?  Or that instead of checking things off your to-do list, it seems to be longer than it was at the beginning of the day?  If so, then I think that this year’s video series is tailor-made for you. Continue reading

Work-life balance is a myth, seek work-life blend instead

For years, nay decades, there’s been talk of work-life balance – that delicate equilibrium between the time you spend at work and that which you dedicate to family, social and leisure activities, and personal interests.  In fact, I too have often penned posts (such as this one) that seek to achieve just that.  But work-life balance is a myth, a non-achievable nirvana that few (if any) have realized. So it’s long past the time to let this obsolete idea go. Instead, it’s time to embrace work-life blend.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, I explain how the word “balance” implies that a negative – work – needs to be offset by a positive – life. But there shouldn’t be anything negative about earning a living.  Work-life blend acknowledges that trying to isolate work from life is not only impossible, but also places immense amounts of anxiety and tension on those trying to do so.

Work-life balance is a myth

work-life blend

Shifting to work-life blend doesn’t happen overnight

So what will it take to reposition from balance to blend?  That’s exactly what I address in this column which published in yesterday’s print edition of The Globe.  If you get the print version, you would have seen it on page B10.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link:

So I’ve already heard from several readers on The Globe‘s site who are not impressed with my point of view.  They believe that my suggestion of work-life blend is just another way to further reduce “life” time.  But I’d love to hear what you think as well.  Do you agree or disagree with my perspective?  Please add your thoughts below.

A Moratorium on Office E-mail?

Imagine a world in which you don’t receive any work-related e-mail except during working hours. That’s right: no beeps, bells or buzzes on your smartphone announcing the arrival of e-mail either overnight or during the weekend. None, nothing, nil, nada.

A moratorium on office e-mail?This is exactly the subject of my latest column in The Globe & Mail‘s weekend Management series which was published over the weekend. It’s titled Should Canadian businesses consider a moratorium on e-mail?, and the topic is well … self-explanatory.  In it, I outline how the Germans approach e-mail (and work-life balance in general), and pose the provocative question as to what would happen if Canadian companies adopted a similar attitude.

A favour please?

As always, I have a big favour to ask of you. Once you’ve read it, please forward a link on to others in your departments and organizations who may find it of interest.  You can do directly from The Globe‘s site using their easy links, or you can forward it here from the blog.  Continue reading

Can a destructive workplace culture cross international boundaries?

A destructive workplace cultureIn August 2015, I wrote a column for The Globe & Mail that addressed the “bruising” workplace culture at Amazon.  Amazon’s culture was reported to be characterized by demanding hours and a gruelling pace, with no room for mistakes or missteps. Employees battered with unrelenting deadlines, constant criticism, heartless disregard for personal health and life circumstances, and zero boundaries between work and life – a system inherently designed to “burn and churn.” New recruits who can handle the relentless pressure tagged as future stars; the rest burn out and leave within a few years.  But a workplace culture with zero or little regard for work life balance isn’t unique to Amazon, or for that matter, to North America.

The Japanese even have a word for it!

Apparently this malaise crosses international boundaries … all the way to Japan.  So much so that the Japanese actually have a word for it – “karoshi”.  Karoshi means “death from overwork”, and it’s a social problem prevalent in many corporations in Japan.  Continue reading

Stop working on the weekend!

Businessman using modern smartphone or mobile phone. New technolBack in 2011, we conducted a fun informal poll at our website that asked the question: What is your single biggest time waster at work? And the top two answers were Other people and Email. I had that poll in my mind when I also realized that we (in Canada and the United States at least) are heading into a long weekend, so today’s blog post seems particularly timely – how not to get caught in the trap of working on the weekend.  Now many of you are from countries other than Canada and the United States, and others of you work unusual shifts, so translate the topic to be “how not to get caught in the trap of working on your days off”.

The problem is that in today’s highly-connected tech world, so many of us can’t seem to shut work down when we’re supposed to be off. In fact, some of the leaders in my client organizations have sheepishly admitted to regularly saying out loud “I’ll get that done over the weekend.” I say it’s gotta stop!

But how? Continue reading

Does Amazon have the right corporate culture?

CanadianHRReporter_9-21-2015My column Amazon’s leadership forgot that ‘how’ is as important as ‘what’ in The Globe & Mail‘s Weekend Commentary & Analysis section prompted writer Sarah Dobson from the Canadian HR Reporter to reach out to me for an article she was writing about Amazon’s recent notoriety for their “toxic” corporate culture.

Here is a link to her piece that ran in the September 21st print and online editions: ‘Bruising workplace’ stirs up debate. In this article, Sarah speaks to four leadership experts (including yours truly) to get a greater insight into whether or not Amazon is doing the right thing. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, then you know my opinion on the subject (they’re not!), but I encourage you to read her article to get a variety of different perspectives. And then come on back here and let me know what you think. Is Amazon taking the right approach with its tough culture?

P.S. Occasionally your access to the direct link to my article at The Globe‘s site may be restricted; if that happens, you can also download the pdf version here:

Help your people get better at managing their workloads

Balance and productivity strategist Patricia Katz helps leaders reduce the impact of overload in their lives and workplaces.  As my professional colleague and friend, she agreed to guest-author today, and by doing so, she allowed me to reduce MY overload.  Thanks Pat!

As a conscious, committed, caring leader, the chances are pretty good that you’ve noticed how overwhelmed people become by life’s ongoing demands. You see how exhaustion affects them and recognize the problems it causes in your organization.  The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is to focus just on speed and efficiency. Simply pushing harder is never a long-term solution. In fact, it makes things worse

Here are three positive strategies you can use to help those you lead get a better handle on their loads.

  1. Get real about timelines and expectations. Too much planning goes on in a fact-free environment. Deadlines for new projects and initiatives are announced without input from those who actually know what it’s going to take to deliver. Consult those on the frontlines who will be charged with actually executing these plans before you set expectations and deadlines that drive them to the brink. Continue reading

Achieving work-life balance is like juggling many balls

If you’re in a position of leadership, then you’re certainly trying to balance your professional with your personal life.  And just in the workplace alone, you no doubt are organizing and managing a myriad of varied and far-reaching responsibilities.  So it’s safe to say that at any point in time, no matter what your individual situation, you’re juggling countless tasks and duties.

BallsFor a moment, think of yourself as a juggler, and all these responsibilities as balls that you’re attempting to keep aloft.  At any given time, you likely have scores of balls in the air, and on some days, it feels like all you’re doing is struggling (and scurrying from one place to another) to ensure that none of these balls hit the ground.  Now imagine that some of these balls are made of rubber and some are made of glass.  Rubber balls are elastic and resilient; when they fall, they easily bounce back.  But the glass balls are rigid and inflexible; when they fall, they shatter!  If this were indeed true, then you’d make it a point to take special care of the glass balls, wouldn’t you?  If you had to drop any balls, you’d let the rubber ones fall because you know that they’d bounce right back up.

So let’s take this metaphor further.  Your various day-to-day responsibilities can be sorted into glass balls and rubber balls.  For the most part, anything related to people relationships – with your employees, peers, managers, family and loved ones – are equivalent to glass balls.  If you drop these, then the impact can be far-reaching and in some cases devastating.  And largely, anything related to administrative tasks are equivalent to rubber balls.  While it certainly isn’t a good idea to drop an excessive number of these too often, the impact is nevertheless not as great as if you dropped the glass balls.  This metaphor would suggest that if you had to drop a ball or two, it should be the rubber ones.  Yet so many people, when faced with this very predicament, let their relationships falter.  They work at keeping the task-related rubber balls in the air, but they let their people-oriented glass balls fall.  It sure doesn’t make sense, does it?  What about you?  Which balls do you keep aloft, and which ones do you let drop?