Archive for May, 2013

CNBC: Why Vacation is a Strategic Business Imperative, Not Optional Benefit

Posted by - . 0

This week I appeared on CNBC’s Street Signs to comment on a new study that shows the United States of America is the only rich, Western country to offer NO paid, mandatory vacation.  None.  Zip.  Zero.

Of course, afterwards I thought of a great comeback to host Brian Sullivan’s Renault curveball…”But I have driven a BMW, and Germany mandates 34 days off, versus France’s 31 days.”  Oh well.

It’s not as if the other countries are only marginally better, offering two, or maybe three, mandatory, paid vacation days.  Nope.  The country second to last on the list before the U.S., Japan, mandates ten days.  Ten.

To get a sense of just how far off the bell curve the U.S. ranks, here’s the comparative chart from the “No-Vacation Nation Revisited” study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (that’s us on the very far right where is says “0”):

Now, I’m not under any illusion that the U.S. will offer European, or even Canadian, level paid days off; however, the simple fact is that every single one of these countries can’t be wrong.  There must be some valuable return from this investment or they wouldn’t keep doing it.  What is it?

What can we learn and then adapt to our culture and economy? What should mandatory, paid vacation and holidays look like in the U.S.?

How to Make Vacation Part of Your Busy, Everyday Work+Life Fit (Video)

Posted by - . 0

I don’t care what the calendar says, for me, Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer! 

Hopefully, over the next three months, you will take a real, put-your-mobile-phone away, reconnect with your friends and family, vacation.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a long weekend or ten days.  Take a vacation!!

Why?  In a do-more-with-less, always on economy, vacation is no longer a “nice to have,” but optional, benefit.  To be as innovative, focused, and engaged as possible, we all need time to rest and recharge.

Unfortunately, the U.S. ranks dead-last on the list of rich, Western countries offering mandatory, paid vacation.  In fact, we are the only country that offers nothing.  (If you are interested in why I believe this is not only a shameful, but unsustainable strategy for the U.S. economy, check out my recent appearance on CNBC’s Street Signs).

No one is going to tap us on the shoulder and say, “hey, get out of here and hit the beach.”  WE have to take the initiative to schedule periodic getaways IN ADVANCE based on the time available to us, our budget, etc.

Yes, I know you are busy.  Yes, I know it can be overwhelming to plan a trip.

Yes, I know it’s a hassle to get out of the office before you leave and then deal with emails, etc. when you get back.

Yes, I know because I feel the exact same way.

But I also understand that when too much time has elapsed between breaks, the well runs dry. I start to go through the motions at work but quality suffers.

To inspire us all to get away, I have asked TWEAK IT inspiration travel expert (and hands on dad!), Matt Villano, to share some of his best simple “get started” vacation tips (below).  Villano writes extensively on travel, and is featured on’s  Viewfinder Blog.  You can also follow him on Twitter @mattvillano.

Here’s an example of Villano’s helpful “bonus tweak” vacation advice from the TWEAK IT Together site:

“Plan a quarterly getaway. Start to consider an overnight. It could be one night, or it could be a weekend-type trip. It doesn’t have to be wildly expensive. You could go camping. You could stay at a Motel 6. It doesn’t really matter where you’re sleeping. What matters is that when you go, you’re actually immersing yourself in the culture of wherever it is you head. And by that, I mean, if you’re going to go to the Ozark Highlands of Missouri, get out and hike. Get a kayak and go paddle some of the rivers. Try some of the hole-in-the-wall type restaurants with food that you would never in a million years consider getting in your hometown.”

Enjoy!  Be sure to tell me where you go this summer AND then how you felt when you got back.

How to Manage Tech Distraction in Our Busy, Everyday Work+Life Fit (Video)

Posted by - . 1

Love it or hate it, technology has infiltrated every part of our lives.

Not only has it erased the boundaries that used to tell us where work ends and the other parts of life begin, but the distraction of technology has changed the way we think and focus.  Not necessarily for the better.

According to author and “distraction” expert, Maggie Jackson, technology has become an “invisible appendage” for many of us.

She believes that our constant reactivity to the demands of technology is diffusing the quality of our thoughts and undermining the integrity of everyday moments.

We have to “handle our minds before we handle our devices” so that we can enjoy the many benefits of technology while maintaining the focus, awareness and executive attention that are critical to creativity and quality life experience.

In this video interview (below), Maggie Jackson expands upon the “managing tech distraction” get-started advice she offered as one of the inspiration experts featured in my new book, TWEAK IT, and on the TWEAK IT Together community site.

At the beginning of our talk, Jackson shares why it’s important to manage distraction, why we often get stuck, and offers small “tweaks” to get started building more focus time into your busy, every day work+life fit.

But at about minute 7:25, Jackson goes into more fascinating detail about the different forms of attention–Focus, Awareness, and Executive Attention.  

She explains how she tailors the simple steps she takes to maintain attention in her own work+life fit based upon the type of attention she is trying to achieve.  For example, the “tweaks” for focus are different than for awareness.

Then we end our discussion with Jackson talking about her new project.  She is writing a book about the reflective mind, or how, once you’re able to minimize distraction, what do you do with that time of reflection?


What small meaningful steps do you take day-to-day to manage the distraction of technology and build in time for attention, focus and reflection?

It’s Not Just About “When” You’ll Work, But “Where” and “How”

Posted by - . 0

For the past two weeks, I have traveled the country to share the skills we need to flexibly manage our work+life fit day-to-day (tweaks) and at major transitions (resets) in partnership with our employers.

My experience on the road has reinforced that most of us have no idea how to capture and use work flexibility, intentionally, to meet our needs and exceed expectations on our jobs.

There is a massive 65% flexibility “how to” knowledge gap. It’s occurred because 82% of full-time U.S. workers say they have some form of informal or formal flexibility in how, when or where they work, but only 17% of employers train their people how to use it. That assumes you work for one employer. If you don’t, then no one teaches you anything.

We’ve thrown everyone into the work flexibility water without lessons and said, “swim,” then wonder why so many of us still cling to the side of pool not sure how to move forward.

One area of confusion I hear often is that most people still think managing your work+life fit is simply a matter of good time management. Actually, it’s not.

In a world without clocks and walls to tell us where work ends and the other parts of our life begin, “when” we are going to accomplish a particular action or priority is important. But you also have to focus on the “where” and “how.”

It’s a “what, when, where and how” practice.

For example, according to a new study by Regus:

  • 82% of workers in the NY Tri-State region said that they spend at least one day per month working outside of their office.
  • 62% felt that their employer expects them to be available to respond to work issues during this time.
  • But only 18% said that they actually got work done if they were outside of their office, between meetings and had free time.

Why? Because they had no good place to actually do work. Restaurants, coffee shops and airports are noisy, and unpredictable.

As as result, many respondents ended up taking care of personal tasks during that down time, like shopping, walking around or answering personal emails.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with spending time on personal activities as long as it is a deliberate work+life fit choice. Unfortunately, it seems that for many it’s a default response to a lack of quality in between “not in the office, but not at home” workspace.

Thankfully that is changing. Organizations like Regus, WorkSnug and other specialized, membership based co-working entities like In Good Company, are offering drop-in, temporary, co-working options in major cities across the world.  I have made it a point to learn as much as I can about these new, flexible workspaces because they are an important solution that most of us don’t think about.

As you look at your work and personal “to dos” for the upcoming week, don’t be afraid to schedule multiple meetings in a location knowing you will have a place to go in between and still be productive. You don’t have to hope you will find a free table and power source at the local Starbucks.

Today, flexibly managing your work+life fit is not just about “when” you get everything done. It’s also about “where” and “how”. More “not the office but not at home” in between co-working spaces expand the possibilities. They allow you to be more intentional about how you choose to make what matters to you happen, on and off the job. Find them, and strategically use them. I am!

Do you think about “where” and “how” you will do you job and manage the other parts of your life each week, or do you primarily focus on “when?”

For more, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost , “Like” our Facebook page, and sign up for our weekly Flex+Strategy/Work+Life Fit Insights newsletter.