Screen Time & Copious Emails

One thing I would change about my life (and may if I actually make it a goal) is the amount of time I spend in front of a screen. It’s likely I will check my email and the weather before I leave the house in the morning. If I’m not reading a book on the train I am watching a TV show on my iPod.

Then – there’s work – which centers largely around the computer. My office culture doesn’t encourage much interpersonal mingling. Some managers seem to believe that if you aren’t at your desk, you aren’t working (I couldn’t disagree more about this by the way and this is a great example of generational office culture issues). So that’s roughly 7 hours of screen time each day, just at work!

But you all know I’m a gamer right? And I have a great love for horrible TV (i.e. Real Housewives, the Bachelor…I won’t embarrass myself further). So there’s night-time screen time (this is where I feel like I could reduce but not eliminate…it’s like wine at the end of a long hard day).

But back to that huge chunk of screen time during the work day – this is largely due to email right? Office cultures have shifted away from phone calls and personal chats and towards the far less personal email. In some ways this may increase productivity, helping you to multitask, communicate when you’re ready, etc. And I am on board with that – there are some things that are more easily communicated through email and some people with whom email is the best form of communication!

Fast Company’s Co.Design‘s shared an infographic (you know how much I love these) about whether or not you should send an email. Check it out:

They, like me, have a few issues with the tree:

We have some quibbles with the decision tree. The first question is “Are you at work?” and if you answer “no,” then the chart leads to “okay.” No! Not okay. Heartwarming PowerPoint forwards are never okay (confidential to our relatives: We love you very much). Further down, there’s weird ritual advice like implementing a “No Email Friday” policy.

But there are some good considerations there too. Poorly written subject headers remain the bane of our existence, to say nothing of the ongoing river of pain that is CC abuse. For a more thorough and thoughtful take on when to send email, we recommend Seth Godin’s checklist (forlornly titled “(maybe this time it’ll work!)”).

However, I love the real message of this image which is – think about an email before you send it and think about other ways to communicate like getting up and walking to your coworkers’ office (unless you don’t like them).

Is anyone else concerned with how much time they spend in front of a computer or a TV? They have just become so ingrained in our lives … Right now, I’m sharing this information and you’re looking at it on a screen!

At least I’m not sharing it by email  🙂

Happy Friday!


Rules for Commuting

I thought today, a day when I am free the long commute (thanks President’s Day), would be a great day to talk about commuting and its rules. Maybe this will seep into the internets and my fellow commuters will read it and pass it on in preparation for the rest of this week and the long months to come – no three day weekend until May 😦

Oh commuting – how I loathe you. I hate the way you take so long and the way you sap my bank account (one month of just the commuter train costs $175.00, this does not include the metro fare).

I dislike how tourists want to commute with me – even though they could wait until I’m at work. They are loud and they are NOT actually quiet in the quiet car.

Also they don’t follow your well-known rules:

  1.  Don’t talk on your cell phone the whole time. Or talk to other people at loud volumes. Most of us are sleeping, or reading, or trying not to cry because we hate our commutes so much.
  2. Don’t put your luggage on the seat next to you. I will ask you to move it and you will have to or the conductor will make you. Not cool.
  3. Walk on the left side of the escalator. This is well-known. It is international even and it is courteous!
  4. Don’t stop in the middle of the hallway in the train station to look at the train schedule – they are posted all over and you could stop in a less ‘in-the-way’ place.
  5. If you can avoid it, don’t bring children on the commute and don’t be offended when we scowl at you. Children tend not to be quiet – see rule number 1.
  6. If you are in DC (or probably anywhere) MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE CAR. The metro-lady will say it multiple times but you can’t seem to hear it. Take out your ear buds if you have to, listen to her, and then follow her instruction.

I hate to sound bitter, even though I am, I am terribly bitter, but these are fundamental rules that would vastly improve my commute (that takes about 1.5 hours one way) and encourage me to write about WAY more interesting things than  commuting rules.

Being Interviewed

For the first time ever, I was informational interviewed, on the other end of the table, trying to spout wisdom and make connections. But I felt a little useless. Having just come out of graduate school and just found myself a job, I have a limited set of resources that I obviously hope to grow! And as much as I would LOVE to help connect someone else, my circles don’t reach that far (nationally, globally, cross generation-ally).

So this means that I mostly know youth who are still in internships, still looking for jobs, or are recently employed at entry level positions like me. One way to rectify this is by joining a group like the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN).

YNPN  promotes an efficient, viable, and inclusive nonprofit sector that supports the growth, learning, and development of young professionals. We engage and support future nonprofit and community leaders through professional development, networking and social opportunities designed for young people involved in the nonprofit community (YNPN).

YNPN has local chapters throughout the U.S. and you can find your local chapter here. I am a member of YNPNdc but I have to admit, I am not a particularly active member. That is mostly because of the whole, not living in DC thing, and partially because I have been lazy. But this interview experience made me realize I have the potential to be a better resource if I do some more networking myself and continue to put myself out there (like I said I would over here).

So I might not be the best person to informational interview YET but if you’re looking for entry level positions in women’s health or global health in Baltimore, DC, or New York, I might be a decent resource!


Are You Working At Work?

Here’s an interesting infographic I came across recently. Obviously some of these items are a big part of what people DO at work but I think a lot of us are looking at facebook for play. I don’t have a problem with this – I think people need their cool down time and a chance to reconnect with others outside of their office.


Second Jobs – Are They Worth It?

In this economy, a lot of young professionals (and older professionals) are taking on side jobs – these jobs help to pay off loans and make living a post-student lifestyle easier. In my own workplace I know a few women, of varying career levels, who go to work after work; it’s hard!

For two years now I have been a part of an organization that works with exchange students. I even talked about how hard it can be over here. The extra money isn’t much, but I have to admit that it was very helpful during the unemployed times. But I recently realized that with the new job, the new commute, and the new marriage, the extra money is just not worth the time sink that this side job has become. For my own sanity I have to let it go. 
I think it’s important to evaluate how important free time is to you when considering whether or not to take on a second job (this is assuming that a second job isn’t a necessity for you). I hate to quit mid-year but my priorities are 1) staying sane 2) staying fit and 3) staying happy and right now the second job doesn’t help me to achieve any of those things.

There are definitely young professionals out there who disagree with my stance on this, seeing a second job as a necessity for getting ahead. I understand their points too:

  • A second job can help bridge your experience gap, allowing you to jump to your next, more desirable position, more easily
  • More $$$$
  • You may be more appealing to hiring managers because you’ve shown you take you can juggle many responsibilities. 
But it’s all about priorities and if you can handle a second job and want to handle a second job, more power to you. 

Work/Blog Balance

When I accepted my current position I knew I wanted to continue blogging. My Orange Chair was such a great way for me to keep my hands busy during unemployment and expand my network. But blogging can be a full time job – in fact it is for tons of people. I have to admit that it’s been hard to find the balance between work, family, and blogging. My sister and I discussed starting a blog on the same day and I’ve given her crap from time to time for not following through on her end yet. But I get it now – it’s hard work, especially when you have a mission or are trying to talk about certain topics.

To expand my readership in the beginning, I reached out with force on other blogs, constantly commenting and searching for people who were talking about things I cared about. It’s not so easy to do that anymore; I’m still trying but I know I’m not as successful as I want to be.

I can’t imagine how successful bloggers maintain the rest of their lives. Or even how full time working moms do everything they do. It’s kind of awesome but also exhausting. I know we all juggle the important facets of our lives around while walking a tight rope and singing an aria so I’ll be your cheerleader and proponent of your vacations.

Questions for discussion:

How do you balance everything? Do you wish you had one (or five) less thing(s) on your plate? Do you think men and women experience the stressors of life balance similarly, differently?

Love/Hate Relationship

It’s day 2 and I already have a love/hate relationship with my commute and new job. I love my job and hate my commute.

This morning I got up super early (please don’t yell at me if you have a more heinous commute than me and have been doing it for eons), did my morning routine, and went outside for the Baltimore circulator to take me to Penn Station where I grab my commuter train. My circulator bus is the first one that comes in the morning and this was my first time trying to catch the bus (I went in later yesterday so my husband was kind enough to drive me). The sign that tells you how long your wait will be said 25/50 min. Well that wasn’t going to work for me- I had to be AT the train station in 25 minutes, not on my way there.

The walk to the station is about 20/25 minutes and I started it, calling my husband in a huff. OMG, I said, this is gonna SUCK – I did not want my commute to be that much longer even if the walk is better for me. But then, like an angel’s song, I heard the vroom of my bus just as I approached the next bus stop. Perfect timing! So I hopped on and was at the station in time to buy coffee before my train. This morning I caught up on Breaking Bad episode 12 and got halfway through 13. I think my fellow commuters thought I was weird when I would laugh out loud or gasp when something crazy happened. Whatever.

Apparently the mornings are easier – I have my coffee, I’m freshly showered, and ready to dive into some good dramas (tomorrow it will be Heroes Season 2). But my sister was right, winter evenings suck! I didn’t even get home that late last night and I was sooooo over it. Having a commute that is over an hour can just drain you. I did not feel motivated to exercise, cook, or be a fun person – this is clearly going to be hard work.

But this morning, when I got to my job, and had fun work to do – a day full of meetings and tasks, I felt relieved. This is what I’ve been waiting for! Things to keep me busy (and I don’t mean cover letters!!). I don’t think I will ever fall in love with my commute but like my sister told me, it just becomes a thing you do.