10 Ways to Make Time for Friends When You Work a Lot

How to Make Time for Friends When You Work a Lot | CorporetteIt’s tough to find enough time for friends if you have a demanding job — when you have a really busy schedule, making sure you socialize and maintain relationships requires some creative problem-solving and planning. While we’ve discussed how to fit in basic things like planning meals and cooking, doing household chores, scheduling appointments, and working out, we haven’t talked about how to fit a social calendar into a busy life in a while. Let’s chat about it today!

We’ve rounded up several suggestions from Corporette readers on making time for friends when your schedule is tight:

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Networking In Your Niche — But Outside Your Company

Networking in Your Niche - But Outside Your Company | CorporetteWhat’s the best way to network in your niche and with experts in your field — but outside your company?  How can you find these experienced professionals, and how should you reach out? Can you find a mentor outside your own company? Reader M wonders:

I just landed a job in a field I’m excited to be in, and am looking to make the most out of it. However, I am the only one in my office who is responsible for this specific subject matter. While my managers help me out whenever they can, the only other person who has similar exposure to this type of work is based at our overseas office. There are a number of professionals based in my city who are experts on this particular subject matter, and I would love to meet them and perhaps find a mentor in this field. However, since my office is based a bit outside of the city and I work long hours, I’m not exactly in the position to meet up with someone for a weekday lunch or coffee. How can I start to form relationships with experienced professionals in my field when my only free time is on nights and weekends? There are only a very limited number of conferences and events that I know of, so I thought it might be worthwhile to reach out to someone directly. Thoughts?

What a great idea, Reader M — networking with other people in your niche is going to allow you to accelerate your learning, have someone else to bounce ideas off of, and even give you some visibility in the field and hopefully the means to move to other companies if and when the time is right. Networking when you’re junior takes some finesse, and maybe I’m overcomplicating your particular situation — you can always just call the local experts you know of and ask to take them to breakfast, of course! — but my concern is that a cold call would seem either like you’re job searching, or possibly (depending on the field) like you’re trying to get intel on how Company X does its work so you can copy it for your own company. However it’s interpreted, it might raise eyebrows with the expert you’re calling as well as with your company.  (One option that might bypass this: ask your overseas colleague if they have any local-to-you contacts in your field who you should know, or what local groups they recommend joining and who is in charge of them — and then ask if you may reach out using your colleague’s name.)  So, instead, my approach would be to focus on getting involved in associations and clubs within your field — this will put you in the right position to meet the experts at an association event.  If there are no local events, your involvement in the association still gives you a good reason to reach out to the experts — interview them for the association’s newsletter, or set up a local event yourself.  (It also gives you a good reason to leave work early, within reason — having an industry meeting once a month or once a quarter is generally accepted and encouraged by employers. I’ve also mentioned my love of breakfast meetings for networking — it’s often more acceptable to come an hour late to work rather than leave two hours early, but obviously, you have to know your own office here.) SO: Some ideas on how to get involved:

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Five Ways to Improve Your Focus

improve-focus2016 Update: We still stand by the links and advice below, but you can also check out our most recent discussion on how to focus on work (when your thoughts are elsewhere).

Do you struggle with focus at work (or, hey, at home)? What tips and tricks have you found to improve your focus?  I am always looking for the best ways to improve my focus, but keep coming back to a few ideas…

  1. Eat that frog. I have yet to read the book of the same name by Brian Tracy, but I really like the idea: whatever you’re procrastinating on most — your “frog” — get it done first thing in the morning.  As in: eat the frog. (Half of the trick here is knowing what your frog is!)  Once the frog is out of the way, I find that my mental focus is a lot better — or, at least, I’m free to procrastinate on other things. [Read more…]

Open Thread: How to Turn Off Work Mode

turning off work mode - toastI have a question for you ladies: how do you turn off work mode? Marie Forleo had a video on this a week ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since I saw it, so I thought it would be an interesting conversation. We’ve talked before about how to relax, as well as about juggling work and life (um: a post I finished from the postpartum ward of the hospital…), but not in a long while. I was particularly struck by this part of Forleo’s video:

When it’s time for me to shift out of work mode, I think of myself as butter and [my fiance as] the toast.  … This comfort food is best when the toast is like firm and stiff and the butter is soft and velvety and creamy and spreads all over the place.  So I know that’s a little dumb, but it actually works — it’s a really easy metaphor to remember, and it affects my physicality, it affects my voice, and I can slip into it really fast.

I’ve been thinking about this far too much — I am so not warm butter! (I’m more like cold butter if anything — barely melting, maintaining its own little form and function.) So here’s the question, guys: How do you disconnect from work? Do you have an easy metaphor to think of (or some other strategy you use) when you’re with your loved ones?

(Updating, just to be clear: this struck me as an odd analogy also, which is why I wanted to talk about it here with you guys!  As commenter cbackson noted below, the desire to not to have to be such a hard-ass when you get home from work is not a gendered one — and as other commenters note, turning off work mode can be easier for men.  Maybe this gets into shades of the weekend you — do you have a very different persona at home? How do you slip into or out of it? Or is it enough for you to create rituals (changing clothes, putting away devices) to slip out of work mode?)

(Pictured: apricot and raisin toast, originally uploaded to Flickr by penguincakes.)

How to Relax After Work | Corporette

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Lifting for Women

Lifting for Women | CorporetteDo you lift weights? I’ve noticed a TON of readers mentioning how weight lifting and strength training “changed their lives,” and so I thought it might be a good idea to round up some of the oft-cited resources to learn more about it, and have a discussion in one place. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been a fan of heavy toning videos like Jari Love, but doing deadlifts or squats with serious weights is an idea I’m only getting used to now. (I’m even pondering joining a gym again!)  I thought I’d round up some of the resources most readers have recommended:

Some questions for those of you who have been doing it:  what weight ranges did you start out with — and what are you up to now? (Go ahead, brag a bit!)  Did anyone do it without a gym or trainer?  If you want to buy weights yourself, can anyone recommend a particularly good set or place to buy weights?  (Also: has anyone done video programs like Body Beast to get started?  I know in previous threads readers have recommended T25 or Ripped in 30 for body weight exercises; before I got pregnant I was working out with the bodyweight version of the Rebel Strength Guide.)

Psst: we’ve already talked about how to find time to exercise, as well as how to find a trainer you like.

Update: If you’re worried about getting too bulky, check out this blogger’s before and afters, after doing four stages of NROLFW — she’s lifting serious weights and not showing any bulk at all.

Pictured: dumbells_adjusted, originally uploaded to Flickr by jerryonlife.

Guest Post: Finding Time to Exercise

Finding Time to Exercise | CorporetteA regular exercise regimen and an intense job are not easy things to reconcile — so how do you fit exercise into a busy day? We’ve talked about midday workouts, some of my favorite exercise DVDs, and generally talked about how to find time to exercise, but not in a while — so I’m thrilled to welcome today’s guest poster, the blogger behind Sweet Hot Justice, who is doing the impossible and balancing a busy job as in-house counsel with a pretty awesome exercise routine. I’ve known of her since we both started anonymous blogs Way Back in ’08 — but we only just recently met in real life, and she’s every bit as awesome as her hilarious writing would make you think she might be. Please welcome Maria de Cesare of Sweet Hot Justice, giving her own excellent pointers for fitting workouts into your busy schedule! – Kat.

I hate working out. Not “I hate working out” as in “Gyms aren’t my thing but I cherish my daily 5-mile jog.” No. I mean “I hate working out” as in “After working 60-hour weeks, I’d rather do almost any other thing in the universe, including sitting in a room and staring at my hands, than work out.” Also… I’m not exactly what you’d call an athlete. I have a job that involves lots of aggressive sitting. I hate sweating. You’ll never hear “Oh my god, Soul Cycle is the best thing on Sunday mornings!” come out of my mouth. You know what’s the best thing on Sunday mornings? A three-hour champagne brunch followed by not going to Soul Cycle.

So, why in the world should you listen to me for tips about how to make fitness fit into your life? Well, because if I can make it happen, believe me, you can make it happen. A few years ago, after leaving a Big Law job and ignoring my personal fitness for years, my body just felt off. My back always hurt. My clothes didn’t fit the way I wished they did. I just felt like a weak, disconnected mess.

But now, after stumbling through a few fits and starts and finally finding a fitness routine that works for me, I feel stronger and more in sync with my body than I ever have. And now, even when I’m tired and cranky and absolutely dreading the idea of schlepping to the gym, I know that I’ll feel 100% better after I do — and that keeps me coming back.

So, I know that you don’t have time to work out, I know that there are a million other things you’d rather do with your all-too-precious time and money — believe me, I’m right there with you. But, if you’re looking to jump on the fitness rainbow, keep these general thoughts in mind:

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