I am a long-time fan of Working Mother magazine. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may recall that I did a series of “Sticky Situation” videos with them a few years ago. That training has come in handy for doing the Q&A segments of Best of Both Worlds. I also interviewed their former editor, Jennifer Owens, several times for different projects, and I’ve always enjoyed her take on life.
So I was thrilled to welcome Working Mother’s new editor-in-chief, Meredith Bodgas, to the podcast this week. I was all excited to interview her and then…I just want to pause a minute and praise everyone involved with the podcast. Normally Zencastr is awesome, but we had a huge problem with our recording software during this episode, and I could only catch 5 words or so at a time from the other two people speaking. This made it impossible for me to conduct the interview. So I was frantically texting Sarah to please take over and run the thing, which she did. Flawlessly.
Alas, the raw audio files were not so flawless, and in post-production, the two working tracks wound up right on top of each other (so they were speaking simultaneously). Our podcast producer and team went in and did a huge “clean up on aisle four” style job on the mess, and it now sounds great.
Anyway…that’s the backstory. Now on to some highlights from the interview.
Sometimes applying for jobs online actually works. Bodgas saw the EIC job advertised online, and applied for the position. And got the job that way. One often hears of online job listings being a total black hole, so I love when this actually works.
Streamline activities you do daily, because this pays off big. Bodgas and her husband live in a NY suburb, and commute by train into the city most days. They intentionally chose to live near a train station, and chose a daycare near the train that they can walk to. That means that on good days they don’t have to fight for parking, and can get a little morning walk in.
Use commuting time. This probably goes without saying, but if the bulk of the work you have left to do is answer emails, and you’re taking public transit, go ahead and leave the office. Bodgas thinks of office time as for meetings, and train time as the place for the other work she does.
Maximize the upside of ordering in. Bodgas says that she and her husband order a lot of food (or do take-out) and they make sure to put in large enough orders that they have leftovers for the next day or two. This solves dinner for the next night!
Bodgas recorded this interview 9 months pregnant, and had been having some mobility issues related to that. So she’d been working from home more often. She talked about how she’s actually far more productive when she doesn’t have to devote time to getting ready, and then the transaction costs of getting to work. She wrote an article about this, and got a lot of positive feedback from WFH types agreeing how much more productive they are on those days. Offices can be distracting places.
There’s also a discussion on maternity leave policies, and where those are going. Working Mother magazine monitors trends in this, and Bodgas noted that they are seeing a lot of positive motion, at least from larger employers (and non-health care employers, as Sarah rued!)
I also want to call attention to our Q&A segment, as this was certainly a thought-provoking one. We got an email from a 30-year-old listener who has been struggling with the question of whether to have kids. She and her husband have intense jobs and love their weekends. In one of the prior episodes, Sarah and I had discussed planning weekends with small kids, and we’d had a certain tone of trying to get through some of the time: plan one AM activity, one PM activity, and then the day is done! This really worried our listener, as in her current life, she found herself wishing weekends were longer, not shorter.
Sarah gave her a more philosophical answer, I gave her some practical things to think about. Please give it a listen and let us know if you think these were good answers.