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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.

12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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

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.

$30

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!

$75

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.

$30

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.

$100

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.

$40

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.

$121

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.

$100

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.

$45

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.

$189

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.

$100

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.

$33

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.

$88

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This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.

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21 questions to ask your partner instead of, “How was your day?”

2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

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