7 effective tips to build work-life integration

7 effective tips to build work-life integration

Today, is it possible to completely separate your work and personal life? David Solomon, global co-head of Goldman Sachs, believes that technology has made us all “available 24/7. And, because everyone demands instant gratification and instant connectivity, there are no boundaries, no breaks”.

Forget balance, the new buzzword in workplaces these days is work-life integration, an approach that creates more synergies between all the areas that define life such as work, family/home, personal well being, health and community. Work-life integration focuses on incorporating different areas of one’s life into a composite whole unlike work-life balance where one compartmentalizes facets so these parts don’t intermingle.

Stewart Friedman, director of the Work/Life Integration Project at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life, writes, “The idea that ‘work’ competes with ‘life’ ignores the more nuanced reality of our humanity.” Friedman believes the need is to better integrate all the different parts of our lives, “which will ultimately make us feel happier and more fulfilled”.

The concept is already catching on in India. Microsoft’s Asia Workplace 2020 Study has revealed that a large number of the Gen X and Millennial workforce in India values work-life integration more than work-life separation, is open to digital workspaces, and is embracing flexi workstyles that “enable them to be mobile professionals with a personalized way of how they work and live”.

Here’s how you can strive for work-life integration, not balance.

  1. Recognize your needs

A work-life strategy can never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Every employee will have different life needs at different stages in their life and career. Friedman has developed a simple writing exercise called the “Four Circles”, which is designed to help identify what matters most to you. For this, think of your life in terms of four domains – work, home, community and self – and create a “four-way attention chart”. The goal is for every day to be a “four-way win,” or fulfilling on all four levels. Here’s how you do it:

  • Step 1: Work on your personal Four Circles picture. Together, the circles must equal 100% so you can add or decrease the value of each circle depending on importance to you. Move each circle in relation to how compatible they are; closer and overlapping circles are more compatible than circles that don’t touch.
  • Step 2: Look at your completed Four Circles picture and analyze. Are there areas where you need to add or subtract? Will making certain areas more compatible with each other help integrate work and life?
  • Step 3: Once you know where you need to change, set goals that will help you achieve your ideal Four Circles. Aim to resize different areas of your life and make them more compatible.
  1. Ask for work flexibility

First, check if your company has any existing flexi-time policies in place. If they don’t, set aside time to meet with your manager and make your case. Do your research – check if other companies in your industry offer flexibility as a standard option. If your manager still appears reluctant, suggest starting out with a trial run.

  1. Take your time off

You may think not using up your vacation days will take you far but that’s far from the truth. A research in 2012 at University of Tampere in Finland shows that taking a trip, especially if you head to a different environment, has solid brain benefits but that these benefits scatter quickly and need to be replenished often.

  1. Build small breaks into your day

The human body isn’t designed to sit and stare at a screen for eight straight hours so a little downtime is a must. Breaks banish monotony, and make you happier, more focused and productive in the long term.

  1. Force yourself to switch off

You come back home and reply to emails till past midnight and are working on presentations with breakfast. It’s no wonder that work takes over your life. Unplugging will help you recharge and start afresh. Try staying away from work-related things from dinner till breakfast time.

  1. Pay attention to your body’s natural rhythms

Most people tend to be either early birds or night owls, so paying attention to your body’s natural rhythms and patterns will help you make the most of your time. Aim to get your most important work done during the hours when you’re at your most focused.

  1. Focus on productivity, not hours

It’s not uncommon to focus on hours at work instead of results. But punching a time clock isn’t your contribution at work; focus instead on the value you create during the workday. Prioritizing your assignments and setting self-imposed deadlines will help. Try entrepreneur Steve Olenski’s “two-minute rule” – if you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. This helps avert pile-ups at work.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.


How to stop ‘stress eating’ at work

How to stop ‘stress eating’ at work

It’s 4 pm, your deadline is looming large, and the stress is overwhelming. What should you do? Your arm makes up its mind for you, reaching into your desk drawer and emerging with a chocolate or bag of chips. The treat consumed, you feel calm for a while but then the guilt begins to eat away at you; the stress cycle starts all over again.

Data from Optum, a provider of employee assistance programmes to corporates, reveals that 46% of the workforce in organizations in India suffers from some or the other form of stress. The study found 43% of the 20,000 respondents had skewed BMI; of them, 30% had diabetic risk, 30% had hypertension risk while 46% had high stress levels.

Stress is known to drive and sustain lifestyle behaviors such as eating disorders, inactivity and smoking. Susan Albers, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic and author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, says, “When you’re stressed, your body is flooded with cortisol, which makes you crave carbs, sugar and fatty foods.”

While you can’t control everything in your work environment, including stress, you can check your unhealthy eating habits. Here’s how:

#1 Sip on something

Avoid your cup of java and choose green or black tea instead of reaching for a snack. The beverage contains theanine, an amino acid that increases levels of relaxing chemicals in the brain. Albers recommends adding a dash of cinnamon to curb sugar cravings when stressed. Chamomile has also been shown to improve anxiety in adults.

#2 Step out for 15 minutes

When the urge to eat hits, be it due to boredom or stress, experts recommend getting away from your desk and stepping out of the office for a walk. Fresh air works as a natural stress reducer while a bit of exercise could help can curb cravings for sugary snacks.

#3 Think long term

Research shows the pleasure you get from eating comfort foods lasts only three minutes. Albers suggests asking yourself one important question: “What is going to make me feel better for longer than 3 minutes? Usually, it’s not a cookie.”

#4 Breathe through your left nostril

A new version of pranayama at the workplace can help prevent stress eating. Research shows that blocking your right nostril and breathing only through your left, or alternate breathing through the left, then right nostril, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing your heart rate to slow, blood pressure to lower and help you relax.

#5 Stop for a deep breath

Inhale deeply and allow air to fill your whole belly. This stimulates the vagus nerve, a nerve that runs from the abdomen to the brain, and offers an immediate calming effect. Deep breathing also means more oxygen to the brain, which ensures better decision-making skills.

#6 Distract yourself

If you’re craving something that you shouldn’t be having, engage your mind and hands with some fun activity. Dr Jennifer Nasser, associate professor of nutrition sciences at Drexel University, suggests “knitting, coloring or drawing”. Or else, there’s texting.

#7 Send yourself – or a work buddy – an email

Decipher your pattern of stress eating by emailing yourself every time you eat. Jot down the circumstances that led you to binge – was it a sudden deadline, a botched-up presentation or a review with your manager? Look at the emotional eating patterns and work on a plan on how you can deal with things differently next time.

Alternately, email a work buddy (one you’ve already sounded out about the stress eating problem) and tell her/him how you’re feeling. You can’t eat till you get a response to your email.

#8 Keep healthy snacks handy

At times, it’s possible that you are actually hungry. But instead of ordering greasy parathas or Chinese food, keep the makings of a healthy snack handy. Peanut butter, nuts, roasted chana and an apple are good options for your drawer.

#9 Indulge with a small taste

If your cube mate has opened a large pack of chips, satisfy yourself with a small handful. Dr Wendy Bazilian, co-author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean, feels “a little can go a long way”. A Cornell University study has shown that eating less than half an ounce of chocolate or potato chips satisfied peoples’ cravings just as well as eating a portion as much as 10 times bigger.

#10 Never skip meals

Ensuring adequate nutrition will help with stress management and is likely to reduce binges at your desk. Insufficient amounts of magnesium or dips in blood sugar may lead to cravings. We all know where that goes.

The next time you feel yourself slipping, honestly ask yourself: “Am I hungry?” A little introspection may help you put the brakes on stress eating.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.

Vision to Reality…Persistence leads to Accomplishment

Vision to Reality…Persistence leads to Accomplishment

The exercise of visualization is not easy. It starts with inhibitions, sometimes fear, for some it’s overwhelming and for few it’s a moment of meltdown. The title of the book Dare to Dream, a book written by Rai Bahadur Oberoi (Founder, Oberoi Group) sums up that to dream, it takes courage.

Human beings are complex creatures and hence the mix of emotions and feelings. The big idea is to ride over these wave of emotions.

The follow up to the visualization or vision creation is what is essential.

Persistence is the value which will give you amazing results.

Persistence is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings.  You go on even when you feel like quitting, until you achieve that important goal. People give up too soon because they are unable to map their journey and sooner or later the goals overwhelm and take over the will and desire to achieve it.

When you work on your big Vision, your motivation can go and up and down. Circumstances, your emotions can play games with your motivation. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated; sometimes you won’t. But it’s not your motivation that will produce results — it’s your action. The decision to persist. To make progress even when you don’t feel like it.

The difference between those who are able to accomplish and those who don’t is ACTION.

Einstein persisted and stayed with problems longer to make sure he found exactly what he was looking for. He once said “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Staying requires discipline. Identify your discipline pattern…NOW

Identify barriers to discipline as well.

To remain persistent, you may want to try few things-

  1. Write down your action plan with deadline. Break it down
  2. Review your action plans
  3. Monitor your score. Write your progress in a journal or calendar. Progress is the ultimate motivator. Once you see results, you will strive to continue.
  4. If you fall, it’s ok. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Get up and get going.
  5. Have a buddy. Commit to your buddy and be accountable to your buddy.
  6. Reward yourself when you reach your milestones
  7. Share your moments of happiness with friends and family




8 jobs for people who love to read

8 jobs for people who love to read

While certain jobs such as a lawyer, librarian or journalist may need specific qualifications like a degree in law, library science or journalism, most of these jobs are flexible when it comes to educational credentials. A bachelor’s degree in literature may be preferred, but it’s not necessary. Your love of words can take you a longer way than a bookish degree.

Take a look at these eight careers that are perfect for wordsmiths.

  1. Teaching

A teacher and his/her books can never be parted, which is why a love of reading often goes hand-in-hand with teaching. Whether you are a school teacher or college professor, you need to do a lot of reading to create lesson plans, keep up with the research in your discipline and discuss works relevant to your field with students.

What you need: You can opt for a basic Diploma in Teachers Education (DTed), a Bachelor in Education (B.Ed) and a Masters in Education (MEd). In addition to this, there are eligibility tests conducted by state-level education boards that vary from region to region. As far as soft skills go, good communication and management skills are essential.

Find a teaching job here

  1. Journalism

If you’re one of those who reads everything – from the back of the cornflakes pack to hoardings to text messages – with an eagle eye, you may be the right fit for a copy editor’s job. If reporting is more your style, a strong reading habit will come in handy as both news pieces and long-form articles require in-depth research and precision while writing.

What you need: A journalist has to be on top of the game when it comes to punctuation, grammar, spelling and usage. Fact/style checking and consistency in tone are often part of the job.

Find a journalism job here

  1. Lawyer

Those who have a sharp mind that relishes a challenge can combine their love for reading with the profession of law. For when they’re not representing clients in court, lawyers must stay up to speed by reading case law and statute books. If you don’t see yourself as a lawyer, you could moonlight your way to it by working as a paralegal. Paralegals assist lawyers, conducting research, organizing legal documents and evidence, and maintaining reference documents.

What you need: An LLB degree from an institution recognized by the Bar Council of India (BCI). After completing your degree, you’ll have to clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) and apply to the BCI for a license. In this line of work, analytical and reasoning ability as well as strong persuasion skills will hold you in good stead.

Find a lawyer’s job here

  1. Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts help companies decide which products and services to sell by studying competitors, market conditions and consumer behavior. Since this involves a lot of reading, it helps if the habit is strongly wired into your brain already.

What you’ll need: Many market research analysts have an academic background in marketing and market research. An advanced course in statistics and information science is advised as well. Being numbers minded, data driven and logical is important if you want to pursue this field.

Find a market research analyst’s job here

  1. Content writer

Content is king – this phrase has, over the years, become a mantra that’s repeated over and over again by Internet marketers. Almost every e-tailer has its own blog, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to pursue now. Other possible career routes include writing jobs for websites, posts for corporates and creating a personal blog.

What you need: Apart from strong language skills, a content writer needs to be able to adapt to different writing styles as well as have a good understanding of their audience. Knowing SEO, HTML, CSS, WordPress and social media marketing is an added advantage.

Find content writing jobs here

  1. Copywriter

If snappy slogans and witty headlines come to you naturally, copy writing could be your calling. For decades, copy writing has been one of the most essential elements of effective marketing; it continues to remain relevant in the digital world. A skilled copywriter crafts compelling copy, scripts and jingles that create brand awareness and lead a person/group to take particular action.

What you need: Along with a turn of phrase, the ability to understand how your audience thinks and tell a good story are a copywriter’s greatest strengths.

Find a copywriting job here

  1. Publishing

There are many career tracks within publishing. If you love to read so much and have your hand on the pulse, you could possibly make discovering top-notch writing your job. An acquisitions editor works for publishing houses and literary agencies, and typically divides his or her time reading manuscripts and connecting with authors to acquire titles for their companies.

Another route you could take is literary agent. Acting as a bridge between author and publisher, agents handle the former’s deals and payment negotiations, and also represent authors and their works to theatrical producers, film producers and studios. There’s also the option of becoming a novelist. People who love to read and ideate often have the idea of a book buried in their mind.

What you need: Being well read ranks at the top, followed by strong writing prowess. Good communication skills and being business-savvy also goes a long way in this business.

Find a publishing job here

  1. Librarian

Could there be a better place for a booklover to be than a library? Surrounded by books of all types, this is the perfect setting to indulge your love for reading and make a living. Librarians do a lot more than “issue” books these days – they are avid researchers who know how to leverage the many resources and reference materials available. Apart from books, these include CDs, DVDs, e-books, audiobooks, newspapers, magazines, documents and databases.

What you need: You need a postgraduate degree in Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLISc) or Bachelor of Library Science (BLib). You could also opt for a diploma as well as certificate library science courses in India. Strong information curation and research skills are essential.

Find a librarian job here

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.


5 things every college grad needs to know about finding a job

5 things every college grad needs to know about finding a job



Your exams are coming to an end, signaling the end of your time at college. It’s time to launch your job search. But life isn’t a piece of cake if you’re a fresh graduate looking for your dream job. Long after celebrating your graduation with family and friends, you realize that there’s more to landing a job than sending out your resume.

There are plenty of resources to point you in the right direction, but we tell you what every graduate job seeker needs to know:

Tailor your CV

It’s a given that you don’t have too much job experience so match your personality and skills to the job you’re applying for. Take a close look at the job descriptions and identify key words that indicate what the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate. These keywords will help you to see how your academic career or college internships have prepared you for the next step in your career.

For instance, if the listing says “candidates who can schedule and execute jobs on-time and on-budget”, you can talk about projects that you’ve managed in college. Say a leadership role as an activities club president, where you’ve had to manage both your time and the club’s money.

Don’t forget to proofread your resume several times for spelling, grammatical and other formatting errors.

Tap your network

Want to know the best place to start looking for job leads? At home! Your parents, their friends, your college professors and alumni, etc. are a great resource. Prepare a pitch for the kind of work you’d like to do before you talk to them. If you manage to get job leads via your contacts, but they aren’t exactly the kinds of jobs you want, don’t be quick to turn them down. These opportunities may eventually help you land the job you really want. For instance, an administrative position may not sound exciting, but it could allow you to shadow someone in a job that does interest you. So keep an open mind.

Build an online brand

According to a SHRM study, 84% of organizations are now recruiting on social media. Clearly, having an online presence is vital for job seekers today. Make sure you clean up your social media accounts before you start looking for a job — put up professional photos, don’t make offensive comments and ensure all your accounts are updated.

Also, remember that recruiters are likely to consider your online presence as an extension of your resume. They will be interested in reading any posts you’ve written about the industry you’re hoping to become a part of. So do your research and share your point of view about relevant topics or ideas. It can help open doors for you online.

No entry-level jobs? Consider an internship

If you’re having a tough time getting a full-time job, consider an internship as a way to get your foot in the door. It’s a great option, especially if your college major choice has little connection with the career path you seek. (For e.g., if you’re a hotel management student keen to pursue a career in banking.) Even if the internship doesn’t ultimately convert into a full-time job, the contacts you make and experience you gain will be helpful going forward. Deciding whether or not to accept an unpaid internship is a personal choice you’ll have to make.

Practice what you’ll say

If you do get that interview call, it’s imperative to practice your introduction. No college presentation can prepare you for a job interview. Keep in mind that you’re competing with many others so start with a strong introduction. Always focus on your strengths; never make generic statements.

For more advice on how to land your dream career as a fresh grad, download our FREE Graduates Handbook!

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.


6 questions to ask yourself before switching jobs

6 questions to ask yourself before switching jobs


Most of us are a lot more comfortable changing jobs as compared to our parents’ generation. In fact, a recent Randstad Workmonitor global survey reveals the appetite to change jobs is highest in India, up by 40%.

But how do you know when it’s the right time to switch things up? There are certain factors you need to consider before making that leap. For example, are you throwing in the towel after a few bad days in the office? Or are you determined to start afresh after a long phase of being dissatisfied at work?

Knowing when it is time to move on can be a tricky task. Monster.com brings you the three-minute test from your daily schedule to think about the following:

Let us start with your first thought of the day. Do you wake up with a positive feeling? In the words of Steve Jobs – If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today? – If the answer is no, maybe it is time to rethink your priorities.

How do you feel when you head to work? Are you still motivated about the opportunities that the job has to offer? If not, chances are it is because you have reached stagnation and your career graph is no longer advancing. It is time to move on!

How about when you are at work? What is your feeling towards your boss, co-workers and the company? Are your personal goals and vision aligned with those of your workplace? Sometimes it takes a while to find your modus operandi. If it does not fit, it is time to quit!

Are you feeling under-appreciated? This is the most obvious pointer to highlight dissatisfaction. If you feel you deserve more for your contribution and are not getting it, speak up or move out.

Is it worth it in the long run? Sometimes a job role does not go as we envisioned it to. If so, talk to your supervisor. And if that still does not work, look for something that will. Get access to insightful industry and salary reports to know the trends and make an informed decision.

Are you ready to commit to a change? Moving on to a new role will take time, access to industry insights, research, professional networking, distributing resumes and going for interviews. Are you prepared to handle the transition? If yes, take the plunge!

If you find that most of your answers are a resounding Yes, then assess the situation once again. But once you have made the decision to quit, take the next step and do not look back!

Feel prepared to make a big change? To #FindBetter, click here.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.