Archive for May, 2008

Where Did My Drink With The Pink Umbrella Go? (Returning To Work After A Vacation)

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

It is one of work-life’s simple truths: vacations are great, returning to the workplace, is not.

Just when you got used to sleeping late, room service and planning your day in the sun, it all evaporated. In the blink of an eye you went from SPF’s to SOBs, from riding waves to making waves, from Mohitos to Moe, Larry & Curly and from sex on the beach to getting royally screwed.

Yes, that post-vacation return-to-work can hit your head with the pounding force normally associated with surfacing too fast from a deep-bottom scuba exploration.

Well, now it’s time to get back to work and begin the countdown until your next vacation.

Here is how you can ease the transition:

  • Before you leave on your vacation: clean your desk, delegate assignments, set up your e-mail “away” message and leave yourself a list of what you need to do when you return
  • While on vacation, spend one (morning hour) every three days to glance at your Blackberry and scan your e-mails. It will make you feel better, reduce your anxiety and ease your return. Do not exceed this time allotment or your spouse/companion will make sure that you will be “sleeping with the fishes” for the duration of your vacation
  • Try to really focus on doing as many non-work related things while away. Clear your head, go on a boat, watch bad TV and goof around with your kids
  • If possible, try to schedule your return home so that you have one more day before you need to go back to work. It’s a great way to ease into “reality.” Besides, landing at the airport 7 hours before you need to go to work will stress you (and your family) out
  • On your actual return-to-work day, get up a little earlier, savor a slow cup of coffee and exhale slowly
  • Bring back vacation-related dood-dads to your colleagues as a thank you for covering some of your work obligations while you were away
  • Keep that pink umbrella in your desk. You can gaze at it and daydream whenever you need to

  • Today’s Tip: Vacation Get-Aways are for getting away. Make the most of your down time and relax. However, easing your transition back requires foresight, planning and a pink umbrella.

    Praying To The Work Deity (The overprioritization of work in your life)

    Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

    When you do the math, it’s pretty scary. Your average day probably looks like this: 8 hours of sleep, 2 hours of errands, 1 1/2 hours with your kids, 10 minutes of sex (if you are lucky) and…11 hours of work (whether in the office, on the phone or in e-mail heaven).

    11 Hours!
    Shame on you, me and all of our fellow Type-A workaholics.

    As we all work longer days with shorter deadlines and greater stress, it’s all too easy to lose sight of your real priorities in life. Sure you love your kids and spouse to death, but is something passing you by?

    You know that your priorities need to be re-calibrated if:

  • You talk about “work” all of the time (even to the dry-cleaner)
  • You know when your next 3 projects are due…but don’t know relatives’ birthdays
  • You find yourself telling your spouse “just give me 15 more minutes” several times a night
  • You know none of the names of your kid’s teachers
  • You spend your weekends talking solely about last week’s work issues
  • You sleep with your Blackberry next to your pillow
  • Most of your friend’s have rarely seen you without your cellphone attached to your ear
  • You check your e-mails while watching TV and in the movie theater
  • You fantasize about doing something to your Boss (good or bad)
  • You let the Nanny raise your kids while you just throw money at any problems that the family encounters
  • You aren’t sleeping well and you are gaining/losing unusual amounts of weight
  • Your usual order at Starbucks has 4 shots of adrenaline and enough caffene to send most people into cardiac arrest
  • Today’s Tip: You need to be focused and driven to succeed in today’s business world. The pace is relentless…but can come at a real cost: to your spouse, your kids and your health. Just remember that if you actually win the “rat race,” you are nothing more than the best rat.

    Your Boss Slips On A Banana, Crashes Into A Stack of Dishes and Gets His Tie Stuck in The Shredder (Humor In The Workplace)

    Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

    Sir Donald Wolfit, a British actor and director, on his deathbed, uttered the well quoted sentiment —“Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”

    In the workplace, the line between fun and legally actionable is thinner than the perimeter of a whoppie cushion. A well place bon mot can lighten the mood and bring people together. A dopey degradation of a colleague can result in your demotion to assistant mailroom bathroom attendant.

    While it is difficult to clearly define who is funny (although your best friend from college clearly is and your mother in law is definitely not), it is almost impossible to clearly define what is funny in the workplace.

    So Shecky, with that said, here are some tips that can keep you on the straight and funny in the workplace:

  • Try to be humorous without using offensive words or epithets (Richard Pryor you are not)
  • Know your audience and their tolerance level for off-the-wall comments
  • Never tell anyone a joke that they think may really be about them or their predilictions (avoid sharing lesbian jokes with your lesbian colleague)
  • Understand that once you make fun of someone, you are now fair game to others
  • Your direct reports will repeat your joke/comment to others. Are you OK if they say that you were the one who first told them?
  • Never embarass anyone in public
  • Jokes about shared experiences and common threads usually work the best
  • Practical jokes are fun until they play one on you. How would you react? Use that as your baseline
  • A Boss, by his/her reactions, will (and should) set the tone, pace and informal rulebook re: what types of “jokes” are acceptable
  • Jokes told behind a colleague’s back will get discovered
  • When in doubt, the whoppee cushion still works

    Today’s Tip: Everyone wants to make their colleagues laugh. The real question is: What is the cost of a workplace guffaw? People love when others are made fun of (it eases tension and keeps attention away from them) but always remember when they were the butt of the joke. So, be funny, respectful and make sure that your next “punch-line” doesn’t knock you out.