Time to get serious, I guess

The other day I dropped everything and took a swim. I was multi-tasking, working at the lake with my kids. It was blistering hot. I was sweating onto my papers. So I dropped my work in the beach bag and hit the water. It was a perfect day. I cruised around with my eyes half closed, enjoying the warmth of the sun, the cool of the water, and the shouts and splashes of kids as they jumped off the dock. A classic summer afternoon.

I’ve never been one to enforce a rigorous summer schedule. My kids have it pretty easy. I no longer even fake the intention to have them complete the summer math workbooks their school suggests. Since I have three kids, I’m probably responsible for a huge percentage of the drop in academic achievement the district sees in the fall. But I’m loathe to push schoolwork in the summer. Maybe it’s because I long for the carefree feeling of my own childhood summers, where the months stretched ahead full of endless opportunities and outdoor activities, not math facts and science camp. Or maybe it’s because I prefer they do something physical – golf, hiking, baseball, lacrosse, dance, swimming. Plenty of time to sit behind a desk the rest of the year.

Or maybe it’s because when you live in Minnesota you never quite lose the melancholy sense that we have so few of these perfect summer days, really.

When I worked in a “real” office I barely noticed summer. I spent my days in air conditioned isolation, so I’m grateful for the flexibility I have now to move my “office” to the beach or the porch. But there are days I have to fight the urge to set my work aside. I know I’m not the only one. Anyone who’s lived through a Minnesota summer knows there are days it seems no one is working.

Now fall is approaching and for me, it’s time to get serious. Get a schedule. Get to some networking events. Get dressed every once in a while in something other than a swimsuit or yoga pants. Put some structure behind all this work I somehow manage to finish despite our lax summer routine.

But I’m going to try to keep that summer urge to every once in a while, even in the midst of a stressful project, anxious day, or an endless to-do list, take a few moments to enjoy my surroundings. And soak up a little sun if there is some.

Do you take leisurely approach to summer or are you all business? Post your comments or send them to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com – and have a great Labor Day if you celebrate it.

Relax and enjoy? How?

When I started my practice of yoga many asanas ago, the hardest thing for me to do was the end-of-class relaxation exercise. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be doing something else. It’s clear I don’t have a restful mind. I’ve been known to craft limericks during meditation. I don’t think I could manage even a desktop zen-garden. You know, the ones with the tiny rakes? Too concerned one of the cats would use it as a litter box.

So here it is, July in Minnesota and six weeks into my experiment with the no-nanny summer and I just can’t seem to relax and enjoy it. Whether I’m working in my office, copywriting at the bowling alley (the kids bowl, not me) or taking a few hours off at the beach with a good read, I can’t shake the feeling I should be doing something else. Really, isn’t this what the self-employeds among us strive for – the flexibility to take life as it comes? So why doesn’t it seem like enough?

This is where I usually offer my take on ways to manage so I’ll attempt it again with this caveat – I’m still working on them myself:

  • Prioritize. Every task has its place in the hierarchy and honestly, some can wait until fall. If this is a struggle, see my nifty method for bouncing items off your to-do list.
  • Enjoy it while you can. As every parent knows, the endless soccer games, summer camp programs, and recorder concerts will be over before you know it, and you’ll miss them when they are. (OK, maybe not the recorder concerts.)
  • Relax your standards a little. Summer throws every parent off-base, regardless of how your work and life are structured. So what if the kids watch a little too much TV (there, I said it) or we don’t seem to have the laundry done? It’s not like that laundry is going anywhere.

So once again, I resolve to enjoy our fleeting summer. The alternative isn’t any fun, is it?

Happily, I’m now able to indulge myself in the end-of-yoga-class relaxation. Perhaps I’m aided by exhaustion. I sometimes fall asleep, so soundly I actually dream. Just hope someone nudges me if I start to snore.

How do you relax and recharge? Post your comments or send them to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com – if I use them I’ll feature your business.

The work-at-home personnel manual

Even though I have a business office I frequently find myself working at home, especially when the kids are off for the summer.

“It’s great,” I say when asked, “It’s easier than dragging my stuff back and forth and I can throw in the occasional load of laundry.”

But the truth is, there are days it is anything but great. To get me and other work-at-home parents through the summer, I am issuing the following personnel policies:

Business Hours
Scheduling is to be determined strictly by me with consideration of meetings, work assignments, sports activities, medical and orthodontic appointments, lessons, camps, workshops and haircuts. Requests for a modification to the schedule must be submitted for approval in a timely fashion especially if it involves my driving you somewhere.

Standards of Conduct
Our brand is important to us, therefore it is critical to maintain a professional image at all times. That means you may not knock loudly on my office door, nor burst in yelling, “Mom, he hit me in the (privates),” when I am on the phone with a client.

Use of Company Assets
Do not borrow my tape, stapler or scissors, and do not use my good laser printer paper to make scavenger hunt maps, “flames” for your make-believe campfire, or drawings of elaborate military installations. That is what the giant box of scrap paper is for.

Use of Facilities
Please clean up after using the lunch facilities, including washing your dishes, cleaning the microwave, and replacing all food items including milk, mayo, yogurt, and cottage cheese, or anything else that might give the rest of us food poisoning if left out. Toilets are to be flushed and towels hung up after each use. Keep the floors clear of clutter by stowing Legos, dirty laundry, books, and shoes in their proper location.

Technology Policy
Use of video screens including mobile devices, phones and televisions will be limited to two hours per day (I mean it!). Use of my wi-if hot spot is strictly prohibited – violators will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including having to pay the overage fees on my cell phone bill.

Security and Safety Guidelines
Keep walkways and stairways free of clutter. Do not leave doors unlocked and/or wide open when you leave home. Do not insert a knife or other metal object into the toaster; also do not stand idly by while your friend sticks a metal object in the toaster. Wear adequate sun protection at all times. Management is not responsible for sunburns, sun rashes, and/or peeling skin. Immediately report any evidence of smoke, blood, or standing water to the management.

Dress Code
Personnel shall exit pajamas and put on regular clothing before the hour of 10:00 a.m. Those leaving home should ensure their heads, behinds, feet and bra straps are adequately covered for the activity at hand. “It’s in the dirty laundry” is not an accepted excuse for inadequate dress.

Anti-Harassment Policy
Making derogatory statements, yelling and issuing threats are strictly prohibited unless they are a component of an action visited upon you by me. Fighting is grounds for immediate termination.

What did I miss?