THE WORK LIFE IMBALANCE

business attorneys

Let’s be clear. 

I’m crazy. 

Yup. Off my rocker. Certifiable. Nuts. 

I was raised as part of the generation of women who were told, “you can have it all” and swallowed the line, hook and sinker.  

My life in a nutshell:

1. Happily (no really) married for almost 25 years.

2. Matt and I have two amazing sons, ages 22 and 20.

3. We live on a 5-acre horse farm including two horses, a dog, four cats, a turtle,  a pool, woods, and a creek. My dream made real in cooperation with Matt aka “The Hubby.”

4. I’ve been published in fiction and non-fiction, am an Amazon Best-Seller several times over, had a short story published in 2020, and am finishing up an alternate history novel.  

5. I read slush for an online magazine.

6. I’ve owned my own law firm. Twice. 

7. I speak all around the country about using the law to protect businesses. 

8. I am humbled and honored to call some of the most generous, wonderful, and supportive people on the planet my friends. 

 

So, I have it all, right? 

Yeah. Truly, I can’t complain about my life. Well, sure, I can complain about things – like the orange cat shredding and eating (literally) my papers. But really, this is a trivial problem. I’m a pretty A-type personality. I love being in motion. A week of doing “nothing” is not my idea of fun. I’m also just a bit of a perfectionist (stop laughing, Matt). “Having it all” is a lot of work. 

So, here’s the truth about “having it all” and the myth of the “work-life balance:” 

You can have “it” all; you just can’t until you decide what “it” actually is.

It took me far too long to come to that epiphany. I’ve felt guilty about success in one area of my life, as a mommy, wife, writer, business lawyer, speaker, science fiction/ fantasy geek or farmer, because that success came at the expense (real or perceived) of another area of my life.  To “do it all” I’ve had to accept there were times when being a small business attorney in Fairfax, VA meant I couldn’t be a writer right then. 

I’ve had to let go of one of my favorite sentence stems – “I should be…” 

I’ve wrestled with the “I should be…”s and related “I’m a bad…”s all my life. See, my Mom “did it all” too. She worked but she always made us dinner and came to our school events. I called her shortly after my oldest was born and asked Mom how she “did it.” I didn’t remember that she worked part-time until I was too busy with school to come home before 7 pm. All I remembered is she and my Dad had been there when it mattered.  I remembered dinner was at 5 pm; learning how to cook in her kitchen; studying Latin with her and math with my Dad; Dad waking up at 4 am and taking me to a horse show; and the hours he and I spent fishing. 

Still, that simple and profound lesson took years to sink in: 

Others don’t see the things that worry us so very much. Having it all is about priorities. 

Balance is a myth. No aspect of my life ever balances out in perfect proportions. I don’t spend 1/6th of my time wearing each of my hats. Most years the garden is ruled by weeds. Sigh. But I accomplish a lot. 

We all have 24 hours each day.  How we use them is what matters most. Not having “enough time” is an excuse. Let’s be real. When we say we don’t have enough time it means “that task isn’t important enough for me to make time for it.” When is a task a priority? Let me give you an example. 

At six o’clock every day, without fail, with no excuses, Sam Vimes must go home to read Where’s My Cow?, with all the right farmyard noises, to his little boy. Sam Vimes is Terry Pratchett’s beloved Commander of the City Watch in Ankh-Morpork.  His officers block traffic to ensure he gets home on time. Regardless of what insanity is happening in his city, reading his son a bedtime story is Sam Vimes’ priority. He (and his officers…and let’s be honest, the fact that he’s fictional helps a lot) make it happen.  

If I really wanted to exercise, I wouldn’t watch another episode of Supernatural (Sorry, Dean) or I’d wake up an hour earlier. It’s all about your priorities. Exercise hasn’t been one of mine for too long.  

How do you have “it all?” 

  1. Determine your priorities. 

You can’t know what “it” is until you know your priorities. Giving everything equal weight or trying to take every opportunity that presents itself is madness. No one but you can set your priorities. 

  1. Let go and accept. 

Sometimes we’ll need to prioritize one area of our lives over another for a time. That’s okay. That’s just life. The needs will change and if you’re paying attention over a lifetime, the scales will balance the way you want. 

  1. Lists. Lots and lots of lists. 

I know myself. If a task, appointment or whatever doesn’t hit my to-do list with a deadline it isn’t happening. Because I’ll procrastinate if I can do the task “whenever.” Every task has a deadline whether real or Nancy-created. 

  1. Hire people to deal with as much of the administration as possible. 

Time is best spent on income generating activities (for me, doing legal work or writing a story) or fun (watching movies with my 3 boys) rather than on unproductive tasks like mailing out my invoices. I can pay an admin $15 an hour to handle those necessary distractions. There are things only you can do. Do them and nothing else. Use money to make time when you can. 

  1. Focus on what you accomplished rather than what remains to be done. 

Matt constantly tells me not even Superman could handle my to-do list. He’s probably right (although Wonder Woman could). When I focus on the 15 things that weren’t humanly possible to do in the day that I, surprise, didn’t finish, I’m a grumpy gal.  Instead, I work very hard to end the day remembering what I accomplished. 

  1. Sleep is for wimps. 

Just kidding. Sleep really isn’t optional. Make time for it. 

For me, finding balance meant accepting there are limits to my superhuman strengths (Again, stop laughing Matt or I might revise the “happily married” point). Don’t get me wrong. I still hear the deeply fearful part of me repeating her “not good enough” and “I should be…” mantras, but her voice has grown softer over the years and she’s getting easier to ignore.

Oh yeah, and when getting the work/life balance right, it helps to be downright crazy. 

If you need advice from a business attorney related to your business’s priorities, or would like assistance with any other business matter, please contact Nancy at N D Greene PC.

Keeping Events SAFE in a post-Covid world

small business lawyer

Summer is well on its way and we are all leaving, or about to leave, our Covid bunkers. Events are being rescheduled. The question everyone is asking is how do we go back to the pre-Covid normal or as close to it as possible? How do we host and attend multi-person live events (you know when you’re actually with other people rather than just seeing them on Zoom) while keeping staff and attendees safe? 

On March 8, 2021, the Centers for Disease (“CDC”) issued a 12-page booklet (Yikes!) on hosting live events, On April 27, 2021, this guidance was updated to address hosting large or small live events. It was updated again on May 20, 2021. You can expect further guideline updates as time passes and the Covid infection rates change. The most up to date version can be found here🡪 https://bit.ly/3scnvI7 

While the CDC’s original plan envisioned large events, the precautions apply to smaller events as well. For example, photographic shoots and television/ video production companies are requiring a Covid-compliance-officer to ensure that all Covid precautions are followed and enforce them when they are not. Whether you are a facilitator or your business puts on 1,000 plus person events, staying safe in a post-Covid world is top of mind for everyone. Speaking to a small business lawyer can ensure your event is compliant with current guidelines and regulations.  

Some events are using Covid waivers and assumption of the risk agreements. You can find our prior post on the effectiveness of these agreements here.

There is also a question of whether you can (or should) require attendees and staff to be vaccinated, see our prior post on this question

Regardless of the size of the event and vaccine status of the attendees, having a safe event means breaking down the responsibilities in CDC guidelines between your client, the venue and you. While the CDC still recommends that we avoid large gatherings, events are being scheduled and you have to weigh the risk/benefit of putting one on. 

The CDC breaks safe events into three categories: Pre-event planning, during the event and post-event assessment. My mentor, eWomen Network founder Sandra Yancey, has always insisted on a “Plan, Do, Review” protocol and the CDC agrees. In fact, the part that often gets short-shrift, the “Review,” is now more critical than ever. And it takes more planning and more people to get your event done. Negotiate your contract with these responsibilities in mind and clearly state who is responsible for what tasks. Even if you are facilitating a mastermind at the client’s site, you’ll need to ensure whether your client or you will be responsible for the following Covid safety tasks. Some of the highlighted tasks from the CDC recommendations are: 

  1. Pre-Event 
  • Determine risk level based on type of event. 
  • Establish emergency protocols with the venue
  • Designate a Covid Compliance team member.  
  • Develop specific criteria for cancellations or postponements
  • Know if your attendees are local or traveling to attend
  • Encourage good health practices and educate staff and attendees
  • Create a quarantine zone
  • Modify layout for social distancing
  • Consider an outside venue
  • Communicate the safety precautions and expectations to attendees
  1. During the Event 
  • Keep PPE in stock and available & ensure cleanliness standards are met
  • Conduct temperature screenings and monitor for symptoms
  • Stagger and limit attendance times for larger events when possible
  • Communicate who the Covid Compliance Officer is and where that person can be found
  • Post signs to encourage distancing and safe practices
  • Limit numbers in restrooms
  • CLEAN per CDC guidance 
  1. Post-Event
  • Host a Post-Event meeting with team to discuss issues and lessons learned
  • Ask for feedback from participants and staff
  • Look for agencies and partners to improve future events
  • Continue to monitor emergency preparedness resources and training. 

I’ve talked to groups of facilitators who ask, “I conduct in house trainings at my client sites, not large events. How do the CDC guidelines impact me?”

Simple. Even if you aren’t trying to host a 1,000-person event, the CDC has laid out what best practices and reasonable precautions it believes are necessary to host safe events. Not every item in the large event list will be an issue at all events. Most will. Even the “small” family related gathering guidelines suggest things like bringing your own food, cups, utensils and condiments, and having conversations with the guest prior to the event to set expectations for a safe gathering.

Remember, the CDC still recommends masks for those who aren’t “fully vaccinated” even though some states have rolled back the mask mandates or never had them. If you want your guests or attendees to be masked (even those who are fully vaccinated), then you need to communicate this to them. Also, it’s very likely that the CDC guidelines will become the standard for a “duty of care” and failing to meet this duty may open you up to negligence claims.  See my post on negligence.

So, whether you are facilitating a 5-person workshop to assist co-workers in diffusing workplace tensions or hosting a 1,000-person event, you should ensure someone is responsible for compliance with the CDC guidelines. Discuss these guidelines with your client and determine who is responsible for each task. If you need to provide the Covid Compliance Officer, then you need to negotiate your fee with this additional cost in mind. For a larger event, the venue may be assisting with some of the requirements. But, none of those actions will occur if the needed discussions don’t happen. 

We can hold safe events in a post-Covid world with a bit of planning and lots of discussions. When planning an event or planning to attend one: 

  1. Determine which guidelines apply; 
  2. Determine who is responsible for compliance with each requirement; 
  3. Communicate these responsibilities to your client, the venue and the attendees; and
  4. Designate a person who is responsible for compliance and can respond to compliance questions. 

You can hold Covid safe events. If you’re unsure of how to meet these obligations or would like assistance with any other compliance matter from a small business lawyer, please contact Nancy at N D Greene PC at: