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Achieving a Better Family and Work Balance Makes for Better Job Performance Are you constantly working after hours and weekends at the office? Are beginning to forget what your family even looks like? Many people find themselves in this predicament. Work seems to get more and more demanding with every passing day, and to stay on top of your game at work, you feel like you need to put in long hours. The flipside to this is that of course when you are at the office, you are away from home ? away from family dinners, play time and your kids? sporting events or school plays. You may feel like your hands are tied ? that no matter how much you want to be more involved with your family life, you have to keep working as hard as ever to make sure your family is provided for in the long run. The truth is, however, that you may be doing yourself a disservice on both fronts. Studies have shown time and again that well rested workers with well balanced lives are more productive in the time they do spend working. In the end, the best way to be a stand out worker at the office is to be fully involved and present in your family live. But wait, you say, ?I?m working practically around the clock now, and everything still isn?t getting done.? However, maybe the problem isn?t that you aren?t working hard enough. Maybe the problem instead is that you aren?t working smart enough. Think about the way you spend you working day. Are you taking on more responsibility than you need to, instead of delegating tasks to others? Are you spending a lot of time chatting in the break room when you run for a cup of coffee? Are you procrastinating so that big projects require you to work all-nighters instead of spreading out the work? Keep a journal of all of your activities at work for a few days. You might be surprised to see how you are really spending your time and in what areas you could make improvements. Simply staying on task and delegating effectively could get you home in time for dinner. When you have done everything you can to make your work habits as productive as possible, it is time to turn to other ways to balance your work life and your family life. Rule number one is the hardest one for most people to follow you ? draw clear lines of distinction between work time and family time. Family time isn?t really family time if you are constantly on your cell phone making and receiving work calls or if you are on your laptop for the entire family vacation. When you?re working ? work. When you?re with your family ? concentrate on them. The time you spend actually taking a breather from work will recharge your batteries and make you a better worker when work time rolls around again. Next, you have to evaluate your priorities. Maybe working around the clock will help you make partner faster, but at what cost? Decide if seeing your daughter?s soccer game every week is more important to you than moving up the corporate ladder quickly, and make adjustments in your schedule appropriately. There is no right or wrong answer, but deciding where you priorities lie will make scheduling easier for you. With your priorities in mind, see what work options are available to you to help you meet them. If you want more time with the kids, see if your office offers flex time or part time hours to help you meet your family commitments. Last but not least, don?t feel guilty about taking time with your family. Not only is this time important to your family, you can rest assured that the time out from the office stress will make you more productive when you return to work.

Five Flex Time Options that Can Propel your Employee Productivity Flex time is something that is still very rarely used in the United States, but has many followers in other countries, especially European countries. Flex time in general means flexible working hours for employees of a company. They way the flexible working hours are implemented can differ greatly. But one thing is for sure, flexible working hours can greatly propel the employee productivity in your company. Take a look at five different ways to implement flex time in your company. The first and probably easiest way is to give your employees the option to come in to work and leave work within a certain time range. For example, so far your employees worked from 8am to 5pm, now you might give them the opportunity to come in to work anywhere from 7am to 9am, and of course, leave somewhere between 4pm and 6pm. This first model would give your employees an opportunity to be on time as long as they are within that range and their individual habits are considered in regards to being an early riser or a late sleeper. This first model would set the rule that there are 8 work hours plus a one hour lunch in a work day and these are not variables. Therefore, you only have to check their arrival and leaving times in one way or another. A second option is very similar to this, but you can expand the hours worked to a weekly or monthly check, where the employee is responsible to work 40 hours a week with one hour lunch everyday. Then he or she can come and leave in the morning and afternoon in the specified time ranges. For the employee, this means maybe on days that he or she is more energetic, they can spent more hours at work to get their work done and on days they do not feel so energetic or so good or they have family things going, on they can come in the minimum hours established from 9am to 4pm. This version of flextime is a much appreciated model by many employees, but for the employer, it means more work in tracking hours worked and arrival times, to make sure the required hours per week or months are worked. An even more advanced version of the first two flex time themes is a theme where the worker can accumulate time to take off at some point in the future. How specifically you are going to use this version is up to you. You basically are making sure that your employees are not working more than the required amount of hours. Why would you profit from this? Less time spent at the work place makes for more time to relax and regenerate and your employees will be more efficient and motivated throughout your work week. In some companies this flex time method allows the employee to accumulate hours up to a certain amount and then for example, they are allowed to leave after six hours for several days to be home for activities with their family. In an even more expanded version, a fourth version of flex time options, the employee can actually take full days off after having accumulated hours. These days are in general additional to vacation and holidays and can be taken in agreement with their supervisor. The fifth option that has been adopted by some companies actually gives the employees the chance to go into negative hours on their time account. This means if you do not have the required hours, you can still take a flex day off, but have to make sure that after a period of time, that the employer sets in the contract your account goes back to zero or higher. If the employer is a really generous person, he might allow you to completely choose the hours you want to work. You might be able to take work home or work from 10pm to 3am if you desire, as long as you have your assignments done on time and your hours are fulfilled.

The Ins and Outs of Free Writing Contests (free writing contests) Free writing contests are available by the thousands. They are virtually a dime a dozen on the Internet. No matter what your niche is in the writing community there is a free writing contests out there for you. How do you know which ones to enter and which ones are legitimate? That?s simple. You do what you do best-- research. While providing the story for the free writing contest will probably be the easy part, researching the thousands of available contests will be a daunting task. If this is un-chartered water for you, you have the start at the beginning. Finding what free writing contests are available. Grab a notebook or start a word document and list the contests that are available. Beside each contest name you will want to put what kind of writing they are looking for and when it needs to be done by. By doing this first you will be able to eliminate any that do not coincide with your writing niche or with your schedule. Now the free writing contest research begins. Finding out if a contest is worthwhile and legitimate is comparable to running a background check on a person. First check the contest website. Do they have all contact information available? Do they tell you what company is hosting the contest? If they are not, you will have likely found warning number one that it is a scam. So scratch those off your list or at least move them to the bottom until you can find out more information on them. Start asking around to colleagues and writers groups. Search the writing forums and the Internet scam sites. The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to look. Once you narrowed the free writing contests down to the legitimate ones, read the contest rules and regulations. Some contests require you signing over all rights to a story even if you don?t win. Are you willing to do this? Giving up rights to you writing is a lot easier to do when you are getting something in return. After you enter there is no going back, so make sure this is what you want to do. The final thing you need to look for is if the contest is just a cover up to get you to buy services or products. This does not necessarily mean they are a scam or don?t actually award winners. It simply means that they will try to entice you to use their critiquing services or offer you a book at a reduced fee that your work will be published in. Being published sounds like a great deal but is it a book that carries prestige that people are going to see? Many authors think that writing contests will launch their career into a successful endeavor. This is not the case, especially for free writing contests. Even winning the grand prize of a smaller known contest is not going to affect your literary journey. Even though they may not springboard your career, there are good reasons to join writing contests. You will get unbiased opinions and valuable feedback from the judges. If you make it into the higher rounds, editors could also see your writing. Ultimately whether you enter a free writing contest the choice is yours. Just ask you self if the time spent writing and researching the piece you choose to enter is worth writing for free in most cases. The critique and feedback may be the most worthwhile thing you receive from the contest. But then again the judges opinions are a dime a dozen just like the contests.