Want more female leaders? Reward impact—not time sitting at a desk

New research confirms that it’s simply not possible to be productive for eight hours per day.

Want more female leaders? Reward impact—not time sitting at a desk

Many things about becoming a parent surprised me. Sure, there was the obvious, like exactly how many days in a row one can survive on less than three consecutive hours of sleep. Or the number of onesies that can get thrown up on in 24 hours.

But there were work-related surprises, too. As I got into the groove of working parenthood, I was pleasantly astonished to see my efficiency skyrocket. With strict limits on my time (e.g., daycare closing at 5:45pm and the risk of being charged $10/minute for being late), I developed a laser focus on priorities.

I started a habit of beginning each day writing a Post-It note containing my three top objectives and zoomed in on accomplishing those. I spent my time at the office and in meetings more productively than ever. And I learned quickly that certain things—like office gossip—had to go out the window. There is truly no time for drama when you’re a working mama.


It turns out I’m not alone in this experience. As I’ve worked both with my fellow attorneys in the legal sector and with new working moms from all different industries through Mindful Return, I’ve discovered that new powers of efficiency and productivity do tend to come with the terrain. Many working parents, it turns out, cite prioritization and efficiency among their newfound leadership superpowers.

Enter the sad reality, though, that many modern workplaces continue to reward hours worked over impact, efficiency and effectiveness. Either by rewarding an employee’s number of billable hours or through the proverbial hours of “butt in a chair,” the message these workplaces send is: quantity over quality.

Why? Probably a combination of history and laziness.

The standard, American eight-hour workday is a vestige of the industrial revolution’s efforts to reduce the number of hours of manual labor for factory workers. Yes, this was a good thing a few hundred years ago, but it doesn’t exactly fit with today’s workplace culture. And the “ideal worker” standard that describes the dutiful man in the office from sunup to sundown that Brigid Schulte writes about so eloquently in Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time is a vestige of a bygone era, too.

New research confirms that it’s simply not possible to be productive for eight hours per day.

“Turns out, the secret to retaining the highest level of productivity over the span of a workday is not working longer—but working smarter with frequent breaks,” wrote Julia Gifford in The Muse when she posted the results of a time-tracking and productivity study.

I’ve definitely experienced this phenomenon for myself. Some of my most productive work days have come when I’ve committed to using the Pomodoro technique of working with breaks at scheduled intervals.

And the so-called “split shift”—which I use daily—re-energizes me for some evening work, after I’ve gone completely screen-free over dinner and the bedtime routine with my family.

Employers, take note. If you want to retain more women, and if you value the working parents at your office, think hard about how you evaluate them.

Yes, it’s more difficult to measure output, productivity and effectiveness than it is to measure the number of hours someone spent sitting at a desk or working on a particular project.

Yes, it’s harder in some industries to figure out how to price a project with a flat fee, rather than by billing that client by the hour. But just because something is more challenging doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

By rewarding output over time, and by ceasing to punish star employees for their efficiency, you stand a much better chance of increasing the number of women who want to stick around and lead your organization.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

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    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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