Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shopping Online

Today I wasted more than two hours shopping. I know a lot of people out there enjoy shopping, but I am not one of them. And it becomes even more frustrating when things don't go well.

At the first store I went to, a sale item didn't ring up on sale, and I didn't notice until I was reading my receipt on the way out. I had to then wait in line at customer service, and wait longer while the associate called the department to confirm the sale price. Lesson learned, make sure you pay attention when you are checking out.

My next stop was to the mall where there is a Franklin Covey store. I use a Franklin planner and needed to pick up my annual refill. The only store near me is at a mall that is more than 20 minutes from me, but I decided to make the trek because I do like to look around the store and see what is new. After 15 minutes of searching for a parking space followed by a long walk in the cold rain to get inside, and a battle with the crowd to get to the store, I found out the store was closed. Not closed permanently, just closed today, Sunday. Why? I don't know. What store closes on Sunday, particularly during the holiday shopping season?

Needless to say, I was very frustrated. And so I decided I do not want to return to that mall again this week, and waste another hour or two trying to get my planner refill. I instead came home and shopped online. I did not get to browse through the store looking at what is new, but the pictures online are pretty good. And while I had to pay shipping, I was able to find an online coupon code that gave me enough of a discount that the shipping charge didn't make a difference. Most importantly, I didn't have to battle the crowd to get it. And, I didn't waste another afternoon shopping.

Coupon codes are out there for most online stores. There are usually some restrictions, for example I found a coupon today for $10 off, but I had to spend at least $50. There are several websites out there that list coupon codes. I found mine today at Some other sites are, and A little searching online may just save you from the chaos of holiday shopping.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Will the economy hurt family friendly work?

It seems that in the midst of my busy Fall, I missed the publication of Working Mother Magazine's list of the best companies. While I believe this list does do some good in publicizing the efforts of some organizations, it does only focus on larger organizations, so it is not always a useful tool in your job search. It does, however, list some of the family friendly benefits and policies that many organizations have which is useful to understand what to ask for if you are seeking a more family friendly work environment.

What is interesting this year is how these troubled times are affecting family friendly work opportunities. As noted by Lisa Belkin in her NY Times column, some of the companies listed this year aren't doing so good. Listed are companies we've heard about in the news such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and others.

The troubling point that Ms. Belkin makes, is that often in the times of financial troubles, family friendly programs are the first to be cut. Companies tend to be more rigid in all management aspects when challenged. Further, when the labor market works in favor of employers, employees have little leverage to negotiate for more flexibility. That is, when facing a high unemployment rate, companies can more easily fill open positions and don't feel the pressure to provide flexibility.

I think that employers must consider the more important returns on providing flexible work. Research has consistently shown that employees with good work/life harmony tend to be more loyal and more productive. When resources are limited, dedicated and hard working employees are an asset to any company.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Work-at-home scams

One of my local news stations invited me to contribute to a story on this evening's news about working from home. As a follow-up to several stories about the troubled economy, the segment looked at work-at-home opportunities for stay-at-home moms. Check it out here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The magic of a few free nights

The last several weeks have been unusually hectic. Our lives are always hectic, but sometimes it seems overwhelming. With the kids now in school every day and me working more, our evenings and weekends seem to book up quicker than ever.

The good thing about a busy schedule is that it helps you appreciate opportunities to do nothing. This week we have just a couple of free nights in a row. But they are truly free. We have nothing we need to do an nowhere to be. The house was just cleaned up last week so there isn't really anything that must be done here. We can just hang out.

Tonight the kids spent some time making some creatiions out of their art supply box. Then, dinner, bath, a few books and it was time for bed. After they were asleep, I almost didn't know what to do with myself. Sure, I have lots of projects I could start on, but nothing pressing. And so, I decided just to do nothing. And its been a great night. For tomorrow night? A little more of the same.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Changing Careers

I've talked with many stay-at-home parents who have used their time at home as an opportunity to reflect on and prepare for a new career. In searching out a new career opportunity, considering the flexibility of the work is important.

Yahoo recently published a list of the most flexible higher paying careers. See the article here. Being a college professor tops the list and I agree that it offers a lot of flexibility. You only need a Master's degree to teach at most community colleges, however, the pay often isn't great. Pursuing a Ph.D. can be worthwhile if you want a career as an academic. However, the life of a graduate student offers little flexibility. I had my kids after I had completed most of my doctorate program. I know people who have made it through a Ph.D. program while they have kids, but it is tough! However, the reward of a challenging but flexible career may make it worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get out and vote!

My 4 year old told me this morning that she is voting for Obama. Apparently the election was the hot topic on the playground yesterday and the girls decided that Obama is their candidate. I agree with her and will be casting my vote for Obama later today. I will be taking both kids along with me as I always do. Their young involvement with elections will hopefully excite them about voting on their own some day.

Want to know where each candidate stands on workplace issues? The Society for Human Resource Management released the results of a questionairre they sent to each candidate on workplace issues. Unfortunately, it just came out late yesterday. But, if you are undecided, it might give you some additional insight on each candidate. Check it out here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lifestyle Entrepreneuer

Do you want this to be your office? Or perhaps, you just don't want to be tied down in a corporate office. Whether your motivation is the opportunity to spend more time with your kids, or just to have more control of your time, you may want to consider becoming a "lifestyle entreprenuer."

I've been reading quite a bit lately about this relatively new category of entrepreneurs. While I have been talking about parents who pursue entrepreneurship in order to find family friendly work, I hadn't realized that there was already a term for those starting a business in order to find more work/life harmony. In fact, a quick search on finds about a dozen books on the topic published in just the last few years.

People start businesses for different reasons. However, it makes sense that the desire to have a life beyond work is becoming a more influential reason. If the corporate world can't accomodate your desire to spend time with your family, why not try your own thing?

Most shy away because of the risks involved. For example, financial risks often make it difficult for many to consider starting their own venture. All new businesses face the risk of failure, and often entreprenuers must put in endless hours to make their business a financial success.

However, lifestyle entrepreneuers don't always have the goal of phenominal growth or expansion (For example, see this article about lifestyle entrepreneuers in New Zealand). Therefore, one can become a lifestyle entrepreneuer and choose not to put in the extra time. In doing so, the business may not be as financially lucrative. But, such a business can still be profitable and also provide other benefits such as personal fulfillment.

My thought is that there are many stay-at-home parents that have considered starting their own business that might benefit from learning more about lifestyle entrepreneuers. If someone is in the financial situation that allows him or her to stay at home, then a business venture that wouldn't necessarily generate a high income might just be O.K.. Especially one that does not require a lot of start-up money (see this article about lifestyle entrepreneuers for some ideas).

What I am trying to learn more about is what kind of resources potential lifestyle entrepreneuers need in order to get their business started. I have met many people, particularly moms, who have a buinsess idea but they are hesitating to take action. If there is little financial risk, what are the barriers? My initial thought that it is more about lack of confidence. But, I am working on learning more.....