Downtime rejuvenates the working body… and mind.

Mind you, if anyone caused pangs of guilt in your head, ’cause you took a short nap in the middle of a work day, erase those negative feelings, pronto!

Downtime is not a waste of time… repeat these words in your head, until you feel free of guilt… not because I’m suggesting that you feel so, but because you will truly feel liberated from that nagging feeling that somehow made you feel you’d committed some major crime.

Mid-afternoon can take its toll on you, in more ways than one. Perhaps it’s the hottest part of the day. May be you’ve had a series of meetings all morning, and concentration during those meetings was imperative – – even if you were not the speaker (in fact, more reason to have been concentrating on those ‘need to increase productivity’ speeches from your boss, and his/her boss) – – because your annual bonus depends on what they said this morning! It is also possible that what you’d planned and hoped for as a productive sales call turned out to be a ‘hit by a bolt of lightning’ nightmare… your junior had just botched up, and you spent precious time troubleshooting, mollifying the irate customer or prospect. One could put this down as an occupational hazard… but remember, although the blow was hard to handle, and you somehow succeeded to salvage that business, the entire process and effort took an immense toll on you – not quite quantifiable.

At every juncture, each one of us is making decisions… numerous decisions… some impact us in small, trivial ways (but they all add up, nevertheless); others, have a bearing on our lives. It’s e.g. the difference between keeping – or losing – your job; or, whether or not your kid will be able to go on a camping vacation with buddies in the spring… your bonus would pay for that eagerly-awaited vacation and the much-deserved new pair of boots you will buy for the child, to not simply show off, but to bring some comfort to those little feet. Isn’t that what you’re wearing out your soles for (without having to sell your soul for the extra bucks)?

Image

Decisions such as these take their toll on us as working individuals. Your short nap will not break your company’s bottom-line, but without the twenty minutes’ shut-eye, you may, at some point, reach your breaking point! Think of it as a mini vacation from work… from having to look at a gazillion emails, a respite from the incessant stream of phone calls, but most important, it’s a few minutes off, from having to ‘make a decision’. Your productivity is bound to improve and you’ll more than make up for the ‘lost’ twenty odd minutes, ‘slacking off’. Try it out.

Reams of research by psychologists, scientists, and even global businesses have arrived at one common conclusion that we, as human beings, in today’s mad pace of work, technology, and media impact, are inundated by information overload that takes a toll on us. With the numerous points of decision making imposed upon us each day, it is not unreasonable that our body and mind require rest and rejuvenation at a mid point during our waking hours… separate from the deep sleep we normally go into, for 6-8 hours each day of our life. A quick internet search within scholarly articles for query phrase (keyword search) “mid-afternoon nap productivity” generated numerous results… the pix here is a screenshot of page 1 of the SERPs.

A recent article in The New York Times also evoked numerous thought-provoking reader responses.

Fallacies… and false hopes about Law School.

Talking about fallacies, going to law school in the hope of making millions seems to be a fallacy, as many recent law graduates are soon learning. If anything, enrolling at law school may spell doom, or gloom, for well over a decade; in this failing economy… consider it more of a prophecy.

Indeed, steeped deep into student loans of hundreds of thousands of dollars towards three years of law school, lawyers are finding it hard to find jobs in law firms. Instead, fresh lawyers may find themselves serving freshly baked apple pie, or a McDouble, while their hopes melt fast in bowls of Cinnamon Melt! Speaking of which, surely you’ve heard the cliché, “Law school is a pie-eating contest, where the first  prize is more pie!”. For those fortunate, who’ve found work at law firms, more hours on their time-sheets brings more money into their bank accounts… but wait, there’s a catch! Stifled in their lawsuits, chained to their chairs, or poring over law journals makes Larry or Lawrie a rather dull companion (persons), or wouldn’t you agree?

Worse still, while law firms here are eliminating entry-level legal jobs, someone must still do the grunge work! Well, what do you know? Outsourcing companies abroad, or temporary workers – locally, or abroad – are more than happy to take on these tasks, and I daresay, the law firms here meet with success, smug as they sit tight on their black bottom-lines!

So… think again, before you sign up at a law school, no matter how attractive they make it for you to do so! Be aware, that for every 25 students a law school attracts, that’s a million bucks directly in their coffers… on the other hand, you, from the word ‘go’, will be indebted to the Sally Mae’s of the world, for years to follow… Effectively, you may well kiss your youth goodbye, and say ‘hello’ to sorrows. Sorry, for sounding pessimistic about your dream-profession!

Consult another lawyer for their opinion on this, but do you think you’ll get an honest answer? As they say, stay within the law, but do try staying away from lawyers for as long as you can… you’ll be better off.

Response to: “The New Frugality: No Passing Fad” in The New York Times

In response to this article, http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/the-new-frugality-no-passing-fad/comment-page-11/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Largely, you could say I’ve lived frugally my entire life; whether or not I held a well-paid job, did a survival job, or when I have no job; only, so that I could save for the rainy days (which are a given for most people, at least at some point in their lives, on an average); yes, and my savings I invested conservatively – not always with great results, but with reasonable success. Despite being watchful, today those investments have dwindled to virtually nothing. In fact in the given situation, I even played the bear market, so as to recover some of my losses. But in a single day the market spiked because of one measly piece of news. For almost two years I’ve been unemployed, despite my best efforts. Yes, I’ve lived off my “savings”… and no, I’ve never ever claimed unemployment insurance (that would be demoralizing for me). Tired of applying for jobs that are commensurate with my skills (with little success) and my profession, I started to apply for jobs – anything that I could handle, and which I was confident would fit my skills. I still don’t get them, perhaps because I’m “overqualified”. I trimmed my resume, but no go. Networked, contacted recruiters, applied for jobs online… no response. I started my own business… after delivering a couple of projects it’s been quiet… there’s no work! Where I live, it costs me a lot to keep going out looking for a job. Oh, and did I mention… I’m not hooked up to cable TV, rarely eat out (perhaps 3-4 times annually), am not a shopaholic (classic styles can go far). The car is 10 years old, I eat once a day… where do I cut back further? Here are a couple of blog posts which may interest some readers:
https://chitralekhan.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/ad-agency-layoffs/
https://chitralekhan.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/is-todays-stock-market-rally-for-real/
Even for those “frugal” folk among us, who are now considered “fashionable”, how far and for how long would our savings “for a rainy day” carry us? I’m busy trying to figure that out. Tax filing deadline isn’t too far now… this year at least that should be easy-peasy, eh? Especially if you haven’t had a job for most of the past year.

Ad Agency layoffs

In Spring 2008, when I referred to layoffs at marketing companies and ad agencies, some smart alecks scoffed at my words, merrily mocking me and my writing. Numerous people holding jobs then dropped pearls of wisdom… “Network, get yet another degree (since my MBA does not seem to cut it), or better still, change your profession“. Some even went as far as suggesting I change my personal [‘Look’ and ‘Feel’]… like I was some website that was long overdue for a total makeover!

Of course, last March, Bear Stearns, believed to have been firmly parked at 383 Mad Ave in NYC, was only just beginning to teeter…  we all are now privy to its change of address… they’ve moved permanently to the annals of financial history. At the time of their big move, the formal announcement of a recession that had already been three months in the making since December 2007 was at least three seasons away! It is highly unlikely then that A&M agencies could have been insulated, impending announcements notwithstanding! However, only those who were laid off, and those who never got  hired — despite job postings that continued to appear (to ostensibly lure fresh, “experienced” talent) — would have gotten a whiff of the hard times to follow; obviously, the rest of the world was happily oblivious to the latent harsh effects it was already beginning to experience!

Long before birds herald the onset of spring, you may have heard (and read) twitters about ad agency layoffs. Think back, the frequency may have been rising since mid-December 2008. Now why is that? It’s because that’s when the US government formally announced that the recession had already set in since December 2007! Looking back now, for 12 months this recession had stealthily taken its toll on jobs, home sales, the fate of companies and on families that depended on these organizations – directly, or indirectly; or even on retirees who lived off their fixed incomes! Wow, so now that it was official, it was okay to openly talk or twitter about how much even the ad agencies were hurting.

You just have to read the compilation of all the twitters (14 pages as I blog just now) to truly gauge the severity of this situation. If that’s too much work, especially considering you may be looking for work, take a look at BNET’s mind-boggling layoff numbers… including ad agency, media and marketing layoffs, ever since the recession started. These will show you why you’re meeting with little success in finding a new job. Or that if you do still have your job while your colleagues have been shown the door, why it’s no time to be smug… the pink slip may likely be well on it’s way to you! Perhaps it’s time to consider another field, go to school and acquire a new skill… and while you’re working on that resume, remember also to go for a makeover on yourself… I’m just sharing those pearls of wisdom I’d received from the mavens on Mad Ave!

The layoff counter keeps ticking.
The layoff counter keeps ticking.
No stopping to this counter's ticking!
No stopping to this counter's ticking!
The Twitter since December is getting louder in Spring '09.
The Twitter since December is getting louder in Spring '09.
When will the Twitters end?
When will these Twitters end?

Of layoffs… something’s not quite right.

Piecemeal layoffs avoid warning laws

Yes, this one sounds much like what I expressed almost a year ago.

Continuing job losses may signal broad economic shift

More on Jobs (Including  a Little Good News)

Thanks for the link, EON.

Ever Closer to 1982.

What to do when you lose your Job (Some advise from various experts)

Searching for work and not giving up

Three unemployed New Yorkers look for work as more than 4.4 million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession started in December 2007.

NJ Governor says he’s prepared to layoff state workers

Well, search and you’ll see more headlines… perhaps news like this best be buried. For the unemployed it may be wiser to focus on the “job search“; like someone said, “Make it your job to get a job.”

Easier said? Well, we don’t know unless we try, right! 😉

Hats off, to all those brave job-seekers in Manhattan!

“Wow!” said the cabbie in Gotham, and “Oh wow!” sez I, sitting at my desk after watching this video of gutsy New Yorkers. But for the video caption, I’d have wondered, “Who are all these people waiting in line outside the Sheraton Hotel on 53rd St in sub-zero temperatures!”

In contrast to the expected turnout of about 2000 job applicants at the Job Fair on 24th February, over 5000  applicants showed up! Including a few men but mostly women, they all waited their turn patiently outside the hotel in a long winding queue, until they could meet one or more of the 40 prospective employers that participated in the event.  With resumes and their portfolios in hand, donning business suits, here they were braving not only the bleak weather, but perhaps steeling themselves against looming possibilities that they may well have to consider even entry level positions, if at all… Most were mid-career applicants with numerous years of solid work experience and talent and these are tough times even for recent graduates! I learned later, there was another job fair at the Radisson Martinique in Midtown Manhattan just days before this one… thousands showed up, but with little luck.

The stock market reflects the goings-on in the job market… today, the scenario was even more alarming than last week. Did all those seeking employment at the Job Fair last week meet with success?  At this point, hard to tell… many of them were requested to apply online! It has the ring of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”? Perhaps it is the 21st century tactic adopted by foot-dragging clerks-posing-as-hiring managers from companies who must at least pretend they’re not going the penny-stock way.

Frankly, at this stage, I fail to understand why companies e.g. AFLAC or even Home Depot would hire more people at this stage; or for that matter Sovereign Bank!

In the past year, AFLAC stock value has dropped by over 78%, and last January the Chairman magnanimously  turned down his $2.8 million bonus for 2008, not to mention even some of his $26 million “golden parachute”. But it seems some folks who have attended AFLAC’s “training” sessions say they’re hiring in every state; apparently, their hiring practices reek of a pyramid scheme! Hey, this is hearsay (I do not know this for a fact since I have absolutely no affiliation to them one way or another.)

Again, less than a month prior to their participation in the aforementioned job fair, Home Depot announced 7000 layoffs, on grounds that dismal sales had hurt them. A month down the line they would set out to hire a new set of people, eh, is that how it works? I find it really hard to digest such information. Likewise, “1000 to be laid off”, indicated the announcement from Sovereign Bank (in their effort to lower costs)… just weeks before Christmas 2008; then they are displayed as prospective employers at a job fair the following February? What in the world is going on? Dangling carrots in front of hopeful (and sometimes desparate) job-seekers… without any qualms whatsoever!

I’m afraid to further research all of the companies who may have been actually present at the Job Fair… to confirm whether or not they recently laid off hundreds or thousands of employees. Only those who waited out in the cold that February morning can really tell their story. Those who are still awaiting responses to their applications, submitted in-person or online, may have another set of tales. Yes, and I’m also thinking of all those who were laid off by these companies and who may now learn that their past employers are hiring again! What has become of them… are they also waiting at other obscure job fairs, or knocking on the doors of some recently laid off employee posing as a hot recruiter?

It’s such a shame, these shams… boy, what a scam!

Sham, or Scam?
Sham, or Scam?

Shifting Careers… they never write, they never call.

Now, they even think my comments are inappropriate (or who knows, may be irrelevant?) and do not publish them… boy, am I amused!

Yesterday, I was reading Michael Melcher’s rather common sense advice on how to handle the silence, which job-seekers are faced with during their job search endeavors. There were about 11 comments from readers, some with web-links to their blogs, or business pages. After reading this piece, I sent the following comment to the blog moderator at The New York Times:

“Eight months back I blogged about this very subject by putting my thoughts in somewhat blank verse (and based on my mood then, a tad tongue-in-cheek). Here’s the link to how I expressed myself https://chitralekhan.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/automated-voice-message-systems/
Michael, thanks for your online advice regarding offline job-pursuits.”

Is it abusive, off-topic, trite? Or holds a grain of truth? 😉

If you’re looking for career advice on job hunting, chances are you’ve already read Melcher’s post. No matter what, don’t lose heart. Hold this torch, continue with your search.

Lost your domain name?

Ever been mad at yourself for “mea culpa”… for having lost your domain name; your very first website, simply because you missed out on renewing the domain name with the hosting company, for a variety of legitimate reasons (or otherwise)? Well, that’s how I feel at this moment.

Eight years back I came up with words-n-motion.com. At the time as freelance researcher and copywriter, I needed web presence; in the pipeline were a couple of job interviews, so… Voila, within minutes I’d registered the domain name, and was rather pleased that ‘dot com’ was available.  In my enthusiasm (and due to some urgency), overnight, I’d written the text (you may call it content); concurrently, a friend worked on the design, structure and HTML. We may have considered a WYSIWYG HTML Editor, but now can’t say with certainty that that is what we used. I even put up my portfolio on it (scanning whatever was possible with my limited resources). Time went by, and as luck would have it, at website renewal time (a few years later), I somehow missed the date, the opportunity, and before I knew it, someone else had grabbed my domain name… what a shame!

Today, with the WayBack Machine for Internet Archives, I still get to see my pages. words_n_motion__waybackmachinearchives

I’m rather pleased to see pages from the past (although due to numerous M&As the links on my ‘past associations’ page are now broken); it evokes numerous memories. On the other hand, I’m irked at myself.

Does such a thing happen with other people, I wonder. My lesson… don’t let go of your domain name, if you care about it. It’s like your identity. Just imagine how it would feel if someone assumed your identity!

Feel like wiping the smiles off their faces? Like they’ve wiped off millions of jobs!

World-of-Color, here we come!

Blue-Collars… stay put; Senator Barack Obama needs you!

White-Collars… move out; Ford, Continental and United need you to go!

World-of-Color… Corporate America needs you!

When our bottom-line gets affected, we see red. After pondering awhile, we conclude… black, brown, yellow… how does that matter? (We won’t be brushing against them by the water-cooler!) As long as your sweat-soiled collars are at a distant off-shore, you can help us see black again… now, that’s the color we like to see in our bottom-line! You see, you’re helping us see green – back again, in our local bank. So, world-of-color, rest assured… what if car companies here cut-back, or airline staff get grounded, Corporate America will arrive on your shores, in droves.