Is MatchPace All It's Cracked Up To Be?

Is MatchPace All It's Cracked Up To Be?

MatchPace officially launched over a year ago, and we’ve had some great success working with organizations and individuals to optimize their pace at work so they can both work hard and live well. But for many people, the idea of creating a work environment that encourages focus and effectiveness so you can do important, meaningful work and achieve a healthy work-life integration sounds like a pipe dream.

We get it. If you’re one of those hanging in there with us but silently thinking “MatchPace isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” you’re not alone!

I’ve heard that exact sentiment, or some version of it, quite a few times. Many people think MatchPace is a reasonable idea, and have tried some variation of it, but found it just didn’t work.

One person convinced her boss to let her work part-time. She tried to stay focused so she could stay on top of her work in fewer hours each day, but she couldn’t stop her colleagues from interrupting, walking into her office and staying past their welcome. Others work part-time but are asked time and again to come in on days they aren’t supposed to be in the office. A different woman convinced her boss to let her scale back her hours while keeping her full salary (woo hoo!), but she wasn’t able to keep up with the demands and expectations of her colleagues who continued to work 50+ hour workweeks.

That’s why the “match” in MatchPace is so important. If your pace doesn’t match the pace of your management and coworkers, it just won’t work. If your organization doesn’t have established guidelines and cultural values about boundaries and focus, of course “it” (the idea of MatchPace) won’t work.

Imagine blocking out your time so you can dedicate certain hours to meetings and others to deep focus work, but your coworkers don’t respect those boundaries and you’re dragged into meetings at all hours of the workday. Or what if you put boundaries in place so you can focus, get your work finished earlier and be fully present with your family, but the rest of your team bombards you with late-night last minute requests.

It’s clear why optimizing your pace just won’t work if your team isn’t running alongside you. (Or for those of you who hate running, imagine a rowing team: if one person is rowing too fast or too slow, they’ll be out of sync with the rest of the team. Everyone ends up frustrated and burned out at best, and resentful at worst.)

So what does a team working at the same pace look like? It requires a culture, from the top bosses to entry-level staff, that values focus and effectiveness and is willing to do the heavy lifting of changing both organizational and individual  habits and patterns that don’t help the team operate at their highest level. It requires boundaries that facilitate focus at work and allow team members to leave work (physically or virtually) and be fully present with other priorities. It rewards output and not just time clocked - especially if most of that time is wasted.

We’ll be talking more about some MatchPace “best practices,” but we want to know: have you tried to optimize your pace at work? Did your team choose to run alongside you, or was there friction? What burning questions do you have about how to make MatchPace work at your workplace?

We know from experience that MatchPace is all it’s cracked up to be - if it’s done right. And ultimately, the results are worth it.

Do I Really Need To Track My Time? Demystifying Time Tracking

Do I Really Need To Track My Time? Demystifying Time Tracking

Gone are the days of the old pen-and-paper timesheet. We no longer work strict 9-to-5s, and many of us juggle side hustles or run our own businesses where keeping track of our time on the clock means getting paid our due. But even if you are a salaried worker in an office setting, understanding how you spend your time (which translates to your attention, which demonstrates your priorities) is one of the keys to unlocking productivity, cutting back on wasted minutes (or full hours), and walking away at the end of the day confident you achieved your goals.

Not only are there great, affordable tools to help you keep track of billable hours or sort through time spent on different work-related tasks (business development, client meetings, deep work), but after a few weeks or months of tracking your time you will start to see trends in how you spend your time, what you might be wasting your time on, and which hours of the day you do your best work.

But isn’t tracking my time more work than it’s worth?

This is probably the biggest hangup we all have about time tracking: it takes effort, and it can be tough to see the payoff, especially in the short run. But tracking your time is worth so much more than making sure you capture all those billable hours (or aren’t overworking yourself without realizing it).

One major benefit I’ve seen from time tracking is understanding and capturing “transition time.” From dinging notification to multiple browser tabs, to calls, emails and drop-bys from coworkers, we switch between tasks an astounding number of times each day. One researcher found the modern worker is interrupted 20 times each hour! By seeing how frequently I’m switching between tasks, I can start to see patterns and minimize transition time as much as possible. That might mean stacking meetings or phone calls and blocking out hours for deep work. By switching tasks less, I gain back minutes or sometimes hours each day.

Okay, I’m convinced. But where do I start?

There are countless tools that can help you track your time. Above all, don’t be afraid to try things out and find what works best for you. I’ve settled on two primary tools: the Zei time tracker and the Moment app (only available on iOS right now).

The Zei is a handy gadget with 8 sides, and you can customize what each side represents. I use categories like “MatchPace,” “Family,” “Health,” and “Faith.” If you upgrade to the professional plan you can also use subcategories. For example, I use subcategories like “Admin,” “Business Development” and “Learning” for MatchPace, and “care and feeding” and “logistics” for family-related time. I have a separate side for Clients, and each client has a subcategory. Zei works best for desk-based jobs, because you physically flip it whenever you change from one task to another (if you use it, it’s really good for catching you in those mid-thought “this is too hard, why don’t I just look at the news instead?” moments).

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It doesn’t travel well, so it’s harder to work with when I’m moving between client meetings and school pickups, but I can manually enter my time later on (I find the desktop app easier than the phone app for entering time).

From a practical standpoint, it makes it easy to track how much time I spend on each client and then generate and filter reports, making billing hours as simple as possible.

 Moment App for iPhone

Moment App for iPhone

Moment is a fantastic app that automatically tracks how much time you’re spending on your phone. It keeps me honest about how much time I spend on social media (even if I didn’t happen to catch it with my Zei, b/c I was multi-tasking (like riding the metro, which is “transition” on my Zei; but I still want to know how many hours/week I’m scrolling through other people’s posts). It also has an alarm that goes off whenever I go over self-imposed time limits, it has already reduced the amount of time I spend with my nose in my phone. I get a handy report once a week that keeps me accountable for the time I waste without knowing it.

Finally, but most importantly, make sure you know your “why.” Are you simply tracking your time to capture billable hours? Great - find a tool that works for you, and go for it!

But time tracking can reveal whether how you spend your time truly reflects your values and priorities. We have endless ways to waste time and bury our heads in distraction, but those distractions aren’t always healthy. Is the way you’re spending your time aligned with your goals? If you wanted to run a marathon but never saw any exercise on your time tracker, you may need to shift your priorities or set a different goal. If you’re trying to start a business but your time tracker is dominated by Netflix and Instagram, you know you’re out of alignment. Information about how you spend you spend your time gives you the power to change your habits and achieve your goals.

If you’re not sure how to start tracking your time, consider using these tools or find something that works for your job type and schedule. Give it a try, and make sure to stick with it for several weeks - time tracking gets easier the more it becomes a habit. Pretty soon, you’ll find freedom in how you spend your time and be closer to achieving your goals!

How Planning A Vacation Can Make You More Productive

How Planning A Vacation Can Make You More Productive

Summer is here!

How do those words make you feel? Giddy with excitement over big summer plans and a chance to relax? Or stressed out knowing that you’re behind at work and it’ll be even harder to catch up now that colleagues and clients are on “summer time”?

Or maybe you’d love to take a vacation - a real, no-smartphone, relax-on-the-beach vacation - but you’re afraid you’ll fall behind at work or end up looking less committed to your job than you coworkers.

Over half of Americans feel that way, with studies showing 55 percent don’t ever use their vacation time.

But what if taking that vacation actually made you more productive?

Not only does research show that your quality of work will improve by taking breaks, but even the act of planning for rest can make you more productive at work.

Think about what motivates you to roll up your sleeves and focus. If you know your workday will drag on into the evening hours, how motivated are you to crank out your work? You’re probably tempted to grab another cup of coffee, chat with a coworker, or “quickly” check Facebook because you have no incentive to wrap up your work efficiently.

Alternately, when you have something fun planned for the evening, you are motivated to leave the office on time - even if that means sprinting to get everything accomplished before you clock out.

Interestingly, research shows anticipation is a powerful emotion that can help you “curb your impulses and choose long-term gratification over short-term.” Anticipating an upcoming positive event gives you the discipline to stay focused and power through temporary pain or frustration.

So what does this have to do with your summer plans? Well, everything! Instead of sliding into a summer slump at work, take time this month to plan for rest. Whether it’s a week-long vacation, a weekend getaway, or taking a half day on Fridays, just the act of planning for and anticipating time to rest this summer can motivate you to stay focused and productive. You’ll end your summer not just feeling rejuvenated from rest, but even closer to achieving those 2018 goals.

Leave a comment and let us know what fun plans you have this summer!

What Does Memorial Day Have To Do With Work?

What Does Memorial Day Have To Do With Work?

With summer right around the corner, it’s easy for many of us to think of Memorial Day as a kickoff to the season of BBQs, baseball and fireworks. While spending time with friends and family over your favorite warm-weather activities is meaningful, is there more to Memorial Day than that?

Whether you’re planning for a three-day weekend or will be showing up at the office the morning of Memorial Day, this is the perfect time to reflect on what Memorial Day means and how it affects our workplaces.

You may have noticed we’re passionate about growing and honoring diversity in the workplace, not for its own sake or because it’s the right thing to do (though it is), but because it gives your team the opportunity to learn from differing perspectives and ultimately arrive at the best decisions, directly impacting your bottom line. We’ve talked about moms and honored Black History Month and International Women’s Day, but what about those who have died for our country?

Without the brave men and women who have courageously given their lives on the front lines for our country, we wouldn’t enjoy the numerous freedoms we have today. That includes the “pursuit of happiness” - which includes doing work that we’re passionate about, allows us to provide for our families, and solve real challenges facing our world. Pursuing happiness is about more than gratifying our own desires - it’s about using our gifts and talents to make our country and world better for everyone.

To those who have lost loved ones serving our country, we offer our deepest gratitude for their sacrifice. To those who have served, thank you for your willingness to fight for us all. And to the rest of us, what are you doing this Memorial Day - and every day - to make the most of your freedoms that have come with a price?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Join the National Moment of Remembrance at your workplace, or even at your picnic: Since the year 2000, millions of Americans have stopped what they’re doing at 3 p.m. local time to spend a moment of silence remembering those who have served and died in our armed forces. This can be a great opportunity to gather your team and honor them together. As a bonus exercise, follow the moment with a conversation about what freedom means and how it can motivate us toward better work.

  2. Serve your community, and honor those who have lost their lives, by supporting or volunteering with a veterans support group in your city: according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 40,000 veterans spend the night on the streets each day, and 20 percent of our homeless population are veterans. Others struggle with PTSD and need assistance finding quality jobs after they leave the service. Volunteer with a local organization that impacts veterans and use it as an opportunity for your team to bond by giving back.

  3. Consider providing financial support for families of fallen service members: we often think of how our grandfather’s brother died back in WWII, but our country has lost service members as recently as April 2018. These people leave behind real families who were counting on them to be there emotionally, physically, and financially. The USO and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provide financial and emotional support to bereaved family members of troops who have died serving their country.

Don’t let this Memorial Day pass by without acknowledging the impact of those who lost their lives serving and those still with us, at your workplace.

The decision to work or stay home should belong to moms—not their employers

The decision to work or stay home should belong to moms—not their employers

This article was originally posted on Motherly.

For years, there has been talk about the opt-out revolution where women who are well-situated in their careers voluntarily stepped back to raise families. What much of the conversation overlooked, however, is that the decision for many is more about feeling forced out.

According to a survey of nearly 1,500 women for the book Work PAUSE Thrive, only 11% of women planned to step back from work when they became mothers. But 72% actually did. Author Lisen Sromberg concludes, “Something had forced these women out of the workforce.”

That was the reality for Amy Mason, a mother from Washington D.C., who worked on labor compliance and living wage issues for more than a decade.

“I was the first person at my organization to take multiple maternity leaves, and the first person to ask for a flexible schedule,” Mason tells Motherly. “They gave it to me, but I felt like I was asking for ‘leniency.’ I remained on the senior leadership team, but was no longer in the inner circle.”

Feeling squeezed out, Mason recently stepped out of the workforce altogether. She says, “Finally I came to the conclusion that it had to be a full-time job, you had to be all in. And I couldn’t do that.”

The statistics show she’s far from alone—with many women leaving the jobs they love for less desirable jobs that offer more flexibility and others halting their careers entirely.

According to the Department of Labor, 43% of women with a child younger than one don’t work outside the home. As those children age, many women seek reentrance into the workforce—with 75% of mothers who have children older than 6 working outside the home again.

For many of these women, the ability to stay home when the children are young is a choice and privilege. But, for some like Mason, it may feel like the choice is out of their hands.

What we lose when women opt out

These are talented women. They worked hard to develop their skills into significant professional contributions. They have a lot to offer to the workplace, the economy and the world.

But because of the relentless demands of a typical work day, moms like Mason have to make the tough decision between their professional lives and their families. Leaving their careers entirely or taking a job unaligned with their skills is the only way they can balance work with their other priorities.

Other moms choose to stay in a job aligned with their professional skills, but feel the pull of their personal priorities when the workday stretches into the evenings and weekends and clashes with the needs of their children.

Who benefits in this situation? Not organizations that need exceptional talent to accomplish their missions. Not families who need engaged parents. Not moms who want to contribute their professional skills in ways that doesn’t continually pull them away from their families.

Here’s a better question: Are the relentless demands of a typical workday necessary? Are the demands even effective?

When we make this conversation about workplace flexibility or family-friendly policies, it’s detrimental to everyone when employers aren’t forthright about what they can offer. Of her search to combine her family and her career, Mason says, “The onus was on me to ask. There weren’t established policies.”

The irony is family-friendly policies benefit companies, too: According to a 2012 research report from the Center for Women and Work, women who are offered paid leave are 93% more likely to be in the workforce nine to 12 months after their child’s birth. And a 2016 study from EY found 70% of employers reported increased employee productivity when they offered parental leave.

How we can change the workday for the better

What if instead of pushing moms to “opt out” of the grueling 9-to-5 (and then some), we engaged these talented women with a workday structure that respects their time and effort, rewards the outcomes they produce instead of the number of hours they put in and gives moms another option beyond opting out?

It’s time for companies—and the talented moms they hire—to start thinking about the best way to achieve their mission with the right team, the right focus and the right outcomes.

Restructuring the workday to allow parents the freedom to both work hard andfocus on their families, will not just result in happier employees; it can improve a company’s bottom line by having the right people working on the right tasks.

It’s time for what Arianna Huffington calls the third feminist revolution: the transformation of the workday. Just imagine an economy that respects the family and gives mothers and fathers the opportunity to work toward positive change, correctly aligned in jobs that use all of their skills without burning them out.

We shouldn’t see people leaving careers they love and have given years to because of the unnecessarily incessant demands of a work day. When we can instead achieve flexibility and family-friendly balances, everyone will benefit.

What Would You Do With A Break From Work?

What Would You Do With A Break From Work?

What would you do with a break from work?

Not just a long weekend or two weeks of paid vacation, (which is usually spent on a trip that’s anything but restful.)

Instead, we’re talking about an extended period of time away from your day job: a month, six months, maybe even a year. We’re talking about a sabbatical.

When we think of sabbaticals, we often think of academics taking a year off from teaching for research or writing. But what if the concept of sabbatical is more universal than we think?

The word “sabbatical” actually comes from a Biblical concept called “the Sabbath,” which means “to rest” or “to cease.” Wikipedia gives us a more modern definition: “In recent times, "sabbatical" has come to mean any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something.” Sabbaticals can be about more than rest: it’s about giving yourself space to get those creative juices flowing and inspire fresh ideas for your job. What we’re often craving is creativity.

Now, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “that sounds great, and I could totally benefit from an extended break from work, but I have to pay the bills, I don’t have anyone to take over, I don’t want to risk being replaced at work…” and the list of reasons to keep slogging away goes on.

Yes, taking more than a few weeks away from work is unrealistic for some people. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an idea with merit, and more possible for you than you might think.

Here are a few ways to work the concept of a sabbatical into your life, whether you can afford a months-long break from work or not:

  1. Understand why you want to take a break. Yes, there’s likely an element of burnout. And so you may just need some genuine rest. What else would you like to do? Travel? Learn a new skill? Help out a family member in a transition? Make a list of all those things you want to achieve in your life: which of them will require some dedicated focus?

  2. Have a conversation. If your workplace is like most in America, the idea of a sabbatical is - at best - never discussed at best and - at worst - taboo. Try opening up a conversation about it. Your employer might be more open to some bounded time away than you think. (Additional tip: when you have this conversation, don’t just say you need a break. Highlight the benefits to the company like a renewed sense of focus or improved skills (for example: if you’ll be using the time to travel, you’ll get a better pulse on the international market)). You may not walk away with 6 months off paid, but you may have planted a seed that over time will grow.  

  3. Actually make use of regular “sabbatical” opportunities. You may not be able to take months off from work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop, rest, and refresh your mind each workday. Fewer than 20 percent of American workers regularly step away from their desk at lunch, and over half never use their paid vacation, often because they feel it isn’t allowed in their workplace culture. You may think never taking a break makes you look more productive, but in reality regular breaks make you more productive at work. Whether it’s a quick lunch away from your cubicle or a brisk 15-minute walk around the block, making sure you take at least one break each day can build a sabbatical mentality into your workday and get your creative juices flowing. Then build up to taking a full day off from email and social media.

Ultimately, whether hard working individuals start taking advantage of sabbaticals or not, it’s time to change our culture of relentless overwork.  If we want to spark the creativity required to solve the real problems facing our world today, we need to recognize that our bodies and our minds were not made for endless, grueling workdays.

We need more examples of successful professionals taking sabbaticals to inspire others to slow down, rest, and remind our workplaces that allowing workers to take a break can benefit their bottom line, too.

Is it time for you to take a sabbatical? What can you do to build some rest into your workday? Leave a comment and let us know!

Four Steps to Stop Procrastinating by Tax Day

Four Steps to Stop Procrastinating by Tax Day

April 15 is just 20 days away. Have you filed your taxes yet?

Maybe you were eager to find out how big that tax refund will be (or learn just how much you owe Uncle Sam) and filed your taxes last month. Good work! But for most Americans, taxes are messy, dredging up financial realities we try to ignore but once a year. We naturally procrastinate, filing them at the very last minute.

If we’re honest, we procrastinate a lot, about all kinds of things… especially at work.

While procrastination can feel like a major personal shortcoming, procrastinators aren’t alone: we’re psychologically hardwired to put off difficult tasks and decisions. It’s another symptom of “fight or flight” - we’ll do what it takes to avoid an emotionally draining or mentally complex situation, making excuses along the way.

Of course, procrastination can be lethal at work. Apply these tips to help you have the greatest impact during your workday - or even to finally finish your taxes!

Prioritize

The first step to tackling procrastination is to accept your internal resistance to completing the task. Often, the overwhelm of everything on our to-do list paralyzes us. Instead, ask yourself what is the one item you must accomplish today. Just get yourself to do that. And oftentimes crossing just one thing off your list can give you the momentum you need to keep going.

Block Out Your Time

One procrastination tactic is to let every beeping notification, every new email or interruption by a coworker distract you from what you need to accomplish. Try blocking out your time each day, starting with an hour to accomplish your most mentally challenging task. Put it on your calendar, let your colleagues know. Then schedule an hour after lunch for catching up on your inbox and consolidate meetings in the afternoon. By scheduling your time in blocks, you can prevent distraction and make sure you accomplish your top priorities.

Schedule Breaks and Rest

Mental exhaustion is real, and the more tired your brain, the easier it will be to procrastinate. As you’re blocking out you schedule, make sure you include regular breaks at least half an hour for lunch (away from your desk!). Take a walk to get the creative juices flowing. Then, at the end of the day, turn off your devices and truly rest. You will feel more energized and ready to tackle your priorities tomorrow.

Manage Burnout

Mental exhaustion can easily grow into full-fledged burnout, especially in our always-on, 50-plus-hour-workweek culture. Assess how you currently spend your time: how many hours per day are you working? And how many of those hours are truly focused, efficient and most importantly: effective? Think of how many hours you could take back from your workday if you stopped procrastinating. By rethinking your workday, you can accomplish more in less time and prevent not just procrastination but long-term burnout. Not sure where to start? We can help!

It is possible to stop procrastinating, accomplish more than ever before and truly enjoy your workday. By implementing these four steps, you can stop procrastinating by Tax Day and maybe even give yourself a “refund” of a few extra hours in your day!

Why Your Workplace Needs More Diversity

Why Your Workplace Needs More Diversity

February is Black History Month, and we would be remiss if we didn’t address the importance of race and culture in the workplace. If we want to both work hard and live well, understanding differences in how we act and think - and why - is crucial.

We all laughed at Michael Scott’s bungling of “Diversity Day” in the second episode of The Office. But there’s always truth in comedy, right? Frankly, honoring diversity in the workplace is easier said than done.

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Do You Love Your Work?

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Do You Love Your Work?

It turns out the origin of Saint Valentine is a little… well, nebulous to say the least. Nonetheless, we use the name to celebrate love on the 14th of February! I remember my parents buying us small gifts for Valentine’s Day, I’ve celebrated “Galentines” Days, and I now enjoy the nudge Valentine’s Day provides to tell my husband, children and friends how much they mean to me.

I hope you are able to love and be loved next Wednesday!

That love is part of the “why” behind MatchPace. I love my family, and I also love my work. But I struggled to do work I loved in a way that didn’t interfere with my ability to be present with my family. I didn’t want to be away from my children 40-50 hours a week, but I found it hard to find a part-time professional position because in our workplace culture, “part-time” usually communicates “partial effort.”

But I know that’s not true. This study of nearly 2,000 white-collar professionals in the UK in 2013 showed our time spent doing actual productive, content-related work is less than 3 hours each day. Other studies show 61% of our time at work is spent managing our work, not actually completing it.

So instead of part time communicating partial effort, “full time” should communicate too many unproductive hours that could be spent on other important priorities like family, volunteering and hobbies.

And those wasted hours drive talented people from the workforce. Long, unproductive days burn them out, make their relationships complicated, and make it difficult to invest in their health and wellbeing. Most people can’t afford to take part-time jobs because of the associated pay cut, but hours at work that aren’t associated with productive outcomes in a full-time job keeps them from the things that are so important to them.

I bet you have many things you love: a partner, or children, or a cause you love to volunteer for. And I’d guess you don’t want to spend 50% or more of your day wasting time at work: tasks that take longer to accomplish than they should, or surfing the internet, or meetings that are no longer helpful, or waiting for your boss to ask you to do something urgent.

I don’t want people to sacrifice personal relationships for work. And I don’t want people to give up meaningful work because of they don’t have time for their personal relationships.

So in the spirit of MatchPace, let’s share a little more love this month by loving our jobs, working hard at them, and then living well and loving the other things in your life that are important to you.

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Don't Set New Goals Before Doing These Four Things

Don't Set New Goals Before Doing These Four Things

Earlier this month, we encouraged you to start 2018 by looking back at the year behind you and asking some key questions to evaluate your goal-setting track record and set yourself up for success.

Have you set any goals for 2018? It’s not too late - the best time to start is now!

Whether your goals are in place or you need a jump start, here are four strategies to creating no-fail goals that will catapult you forward in 2018.

1. Know your value. The purpose of goal setting isn’t just to keep you on track and help you grow and perform. Your goals also demonstrate and increase the value you bring to your role.  Is your value intensive (a specific skill you’ve cultivated - being a communications expert or an expert chef) or extensive (you’re a connector and motivator helping to move projects forward or keeping track of all the things going on as the family logistician)? Both types of value are uniquely important to an organization, and will affect how your goals look.

At both MatchPace and in my family, I have goals for the growth I want to see this year. In both places, the value I’m looking to add is to be more “present” - more focused, more available, less scattered. This helps me set the right kind of goals for the year. Instead of trying to grow a specific skill set, my goals are focused on prioritizing and managing my time and increasing my productivity.

My role in those organizations is extensive. In both places I am a “jack of all trades.” At MatchPace I am developing relationships with clients, running engagements, involved in communications and the financial operations. At home I am making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time, fed, and dressed, as well as being involved in our family communications and our financial operations!

My greatest value to both places is to be present and focused, and to be aware of most everything going on. I am not our communications expert at MatchPace (but Caitie is!) and I am not the laundry expert in our house (but we have someone who is!).

2. Acknowledge what you’ll say no to. This is a tough one for me, but likely the most important. I always want to add more and more to my life: more goals, more adventures, more time with people I love. But instead, I add more things and end up overwhelmed.

To support my value to MatchPace and my family, to be more present, and more focused, one thing I’ve recognized is it means I need to get more - and better - sleep. It means I have to say “no” to other things, like puttering around after the kids go to bed. I like that time alone, and Andy and I are doing things like getting lunch ready for the next day or straightening up,  but the truth is we spend it doing low-value activities and don’t actually feel wound-down and ready for quality sleep. Of course, those daily chores have to get done at some point, so what else do we have to give up to make space to do those things before 9:30 at night?

It’s hard to give up something else that has a value to you, but in the name of accomplishing the more important goal, you have to make the hard decision and know what to cut out so the time you do have is spent wisely. We don’t have an answer yet, but we know we have to give up some things in our days to make space in our evenings, so we can sleep better and be more present.

3. Find the right metrics. Use your evaluation from 2017 to help shape not only the goals you set for 2018, but how you measure them. If my goal was to “get to bed earlier,” that’s not really something I can keep track of. But if it’s to be totally ready for bed (defined as lunches packed, teeth brushed, in bed reading) by 9:30 is something I can measure. Keep it simple, keep it measurable.

4. Create your own scorecard. Don’t just set new goals and forget them. You need a plan in place to monitor, adjust, and most importantly communicate your progress toward those goals. Not only will a scorecard based on metrics that fit your value and goals help you stay on track, if you share your progress with your supervisor, your spouse, or a friend, they will have a clear picture of how you are doing and how they can help. To keep this blog from getting any longer, I’ll save the science behind building habits for another time. But here’s a score-card you can use to mark off each time you work toward your new measurable goal. Keep marking them off (don’t freak if you miss a day) and before you know it, you’ll be hitting those goals!  

With these steps, you’ll set yourself up for goal-setting success in 2018.

Ready to Win 2018? First, Look Back

Ready to Win 2018? First, Look Back

Here we are, a week into 2018! Have you made any resolutions? How are they going? Still going strong, or have you already “screwed them up?” Maybe you think if you didn’t set your resolutions on January 1, it’s too late to bother (like me!). Or are you someone who doesn’t bother with resolutions because you think they’re silly, or just a chance to beat yourself up?

There’s something fresh about something new - a new year, a new job, a new place to live. It’s a opportunity to reflect, to consider, and to try to do things differently.

So even if you think New Year's resolutions are silly, you likely still feel a slight pull to consider what has come before and how 2018 might look different.

Even if you don’t call them “resolutions,” are you ready to do the work to achieve bigger and better things in 2018? When you’re intentional about refocusing and setting smart goals, a new year can mean a fresh start - with or without resolutions.

Take a few minutes and look back to 2017 (no, it’s not too late!). Most of us think of December, or the end of our organization’s fiscal year, or our own birthday as the time to reevaluate goals. But often those times are full of distractions - parties, gifts, end-of-year financial reports. Then you miss the window and think it’s too late.

The reality is it’s always a good time to evaluate, so don’t let the fact that you didn’t get to it in December stop you from taking a look back now.

Before you launch into “new year, new you” it’s helpful to evaluate what has come before. Some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Have you tried to accomplish other goals (or even the same goal) in the past?

  • Why did you or didn’t you hit those goals? Did you have systems in place to help you follow through, or did life’s curveballs throw you off course?

  • What strategies helped you achieve past goals?

  • Were your metrics (how you judged success) helpful? Did they provide you with the information you needed to determine if you made progress, and if not, why?

In our next blog, we’ll talk about how to hit those 2018 goals (we promise, it’s not too late to start!). For now, take a few minutes and evaluate your goal-setting track record so you can make adjustments and develop new systems to keep you moving forward.

All I Want For Christmas Is Time

All I Want For Christmas Is Time

I went for a walk with a friend a few weeks ago. She said her in-laws had asked what she wanted for Christmas. She sighed and said, “All I want for Christmas is time.”

She’s not alone. We’re working longer hours, concerned about the future, and struggling to check off our to-do lists each day.

The holiday season in particular is ripe with opportunity to feel overwhelmed and stressed by shopping lists, social commitments, family dynamics and the race to meet those annual goals at work.

Can we really give ourselves the gift of time?

The short answer: yes. When we view time as a valuable, non-renewable resource, we can start to organize our days, including our workdays, in a way that respects the limited time we have each day and give us some of those precious hours back to spend on family, friends, and making our world a better place.

Here are three steps to give yourself the gift of time this holiday season:

The Outcome-Focused Workplace: “Try It For A Week” Week

The Outcome-Focused Workplace: “Try It For A Week” Week

As workweeks stretch 50, 60 or more hours long for many Americans, we’ve got to wonder if these extra hours spent slaving over a desk or chained to our smartphones is actually helping us be more productive. In fact, research tells us that working excessive hours actually makes people less productive, not more.

Read more

What if the solution to inefficiency and burnout isn’t simply working less, but working differently? How would your workweek look if your goal wasn’t to clock a certain number of hours, but to achieve specific outcomes and then go home and unplug?

Employee Burnout Is Sabotaging Your Workforce

Employee Burnout Is Sabotaging Your Workforce

Happy November! We can’t believe 2017 is rapidly coming to a close. On the blog this month we’re talking about burnout: why it happens and how to avoid it. Stay tuned for a special Thanksgiving-themed blog later this month, too!

Burnout.

We’ve all felt it. Exhausted, overwhelmed, depleted... burned out.

In fact, 95 percent of HR leaders reported that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce.

What is behind such pervasive burnout? Are we simply working too many hours each week, or is the way we work the problem?

Here are some of the reasons why your employees are burning out like a firework.

Three Easy Ways to Keep Your Employees Engaged

Three Easy Ways to Keep Your Employees Engaged

We admit: our last two blogs have been pretty negative. But knowing that nearly 70% of American workers are tuned out at work, we felt it was important to help employers and managers understand why employees are disengaged and how employee disengagement hurts your business.

Now that we’ve identified the problem, it’s time to turn to solutions. We don’t believe employee disengagement has to be the new norm, so here’s how we can all be part of the solution.

Here's Why Your Employees Are Disengaged At Work

Here's Why Your Employees Are Disengaged At Work

Employee disengagement hurts your organization. From team morale to the bottom line there are emotional and financial costs to having a disengaged workforce.

Last week, we gave you five ways employee disengagement is hurting your organization. That’s the first step to attacking your problem - understanding why it is a problem for you. The next step is to understand why these employees are feeling unmotivated at work. Until you know that you can’t create an effective strategy for re-engaging those employees.

While each team is unique, the fact that so many people (70%) are anywhere from less than enthused about their jobs to outright seeking to sabotage their place of employment, means there are some key trends that can help you diagnose and treat the problem.

Take a look - do you think any of these issues are living beneath the surface at your organization?

Read the five common reasons employees are disengaged at work.

Five Ways Employee Disengagement is Hurting Your Business

Five Ways Employee Disengagement is Hurting Your Business

We’ve all heard the staggering statistic: according to Gallup, only 33 percent of all American workers feel engaged at their jobs. That means 67 percent - nearly 7-in-10 - workers in America are somewhat disengaged at work, if not disengaged entirely.

Look around yourself, at your job, or at the next business you walk into. Does your team have engagement issues? What about the team at your doctor’s office or your mechanic shop - where quality work greatly influences your life!

Chances are - your team, and organizations that you care about and need in your life, have an employee engagement problem.

Here are five reasons your employees might be disengaged and why it's hurting your business.

How to Achieve Your Goals Without Trying

How to Achieve Your Goals Without Trying

Earlier this month, we talked about setting SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. This is a tried-and-true strategy for setting goals that you can achieve and a plan to make them happen.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes setting goals simply isn’t enough for me.  What happens when you set SMART goals and find yourself getting frustrated or falling short?

Knowing what you want is one part of the equation towards accomplishing your goals. And systems can be the missing link between goals that remain unattained and those that are achieved or even exceeded.

Read how to implement systems that make achieving your goals painless. 

Why You Should Set "New Year Resolutions" in September

Why You Should Set "New Year Resolutions" in September

Several years ago, I started doing something a bit unusual: setting my “New Year Resolutions” in September. My birthday is in September, so it feels natural to start *my* new year this month. And September feels like a fresh start for many ways: a transition out of summer, when schedules and routines were relaxed for fun in the sun; back to school (or re-focusing at work); cooler nights and fresh autumn mornings.

In fact, I think you should be setting goals in September regardless of if you set them at the start of the year. This is a great time to reassess your progress for the year and realign how you’re spending your time to ensure you accomplish what is necessary by calendar year’s end. This is especially true at work, where you likely have year-end goals for yourself and your team (and maybe even bonuses contingent on achieving them).

But simply moving your goal-setting to September won’t guarantee you set good goals and achieve them. That’s why I rely on SMART goals - goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely - to help me make a plan for success. Here’s an example. (Click to read more!)

What Does Labor Day Mean to You?

What Does Labor Day Mean to You?

For most of us, Labor Day is the summer finale, knowing that once the holiday has come and gone, fall is upon us and it’s once again time to focus on school and work.

Growing up, we wouldn’t miss the first high school football game of the season on the Friday night of Labor Day weekend. It was also our last chance to get a new outfit for school, new binders or a new lunch bag. Finally, we enjoyed a quiet Monday at home before the big yellow school bus would arrive the next morning like clockwork.

But did you know there’s a greater significance to Labor Day beyond one last chance to savor summer?

Click to read how Labor Day inspires us work hard and live well.