The Best of Both Worlds podcast is all about combining work and life. While some of our guests are authors or experts, we aim to include the stories of women in all sorts of careers. A lot of our listeners are in the corporate world, so we are definitely aiming to make that a big part of the show.
Today’s guest, Parita Kuttappan, works as a senior project manager at a major professional services firm (in the accounting industry). She and her husband, who’s a radiology resident, are raising a just-turned-1-year-old. She has a blog on the side called My Inner Shakti.
In this episode, we discussed her life and schedule, and her various strategies for making the pieces fit.
Consider alternative schedules. Kuttappan works 4 10-hour days, and then has one weekday (Friday) off. She is in the office from 7:45-4, and in order to still be full time, does some work at night from home after her son goes to bed (the split shift!). There are some upsides to this. No commute one day a week (actually more because she works from home sometimes too) and if your day off is Friday, well, many people aren’t doing that much on Friday anyway. She spends some more time with her son. However…
Alternate schedules don’t have to only be about kids. She does use her day off to see her son more, but they still have some childcare. Her husband’s residency schedule means that at least some weekends, she’s doing most of the parent work. Having one day a week to do her own thing — visiting, getting her nails done — means she feels less resentful about that.
Ask around to get ideas of schedules. If your company does have some flexibility, talk to other people who are making it work because they might have ideas you haven’t thought about. (Or, I might note, read I Know How She Does It for ideas…)
Take real breaks at work. Again, since she’s often the “on” parent in the evening, she builds in some downtime during the day. Taking a real 30-minute break to think (or sometimes work on her blog) means that she’s less resentful in the evening.
Get it all on the calendar. Expecting to remember things in a sleep-deprived state is asking for trouble. If it needs to happen, put it on the calendar. Bonus: calendars are better than simple to-do lists because you’ve already figured out when the “to do” is going to happen!
Good concealer and dry shampoo. When you need to look professional, but don’t have a lot of time (or as much sleep as you want) these can work wonders. I bought the concealer she talked about, though I am not sure if it’s meant to be under a foundation or what. As I’ve written before, make-up is a real work in progress for me.
Go to bed as soon as you can. Your morning self will thank you.
Ask…or don’t ask. We had a discussion on the merits of asking for an official flexible schedule. As Kuttappan pointed out, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. That said…there’s also some research that asking is more of a female tendency than a male one. One study of a major professional services firm found that men were likely to take advantage of the flexibility inherent in the job to just work as they wish to work, and figure it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. So, just something to keep in mind.
Anyway, please give the episode a listen and let us know what you think!
In other news: I review a book called The Ambition Decisions in today’s Wall Street Journal. More on that in a later post!