Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, August 10, 2015

"Escaping the rat race"/ "Stop playing hooky at home"

Jun. 16 "Escaping the rat race": I cut out this article by Joanne Richard in the 24 News in Jan. 9, 2012.  Here's the whole article: 

If job happiness is elusive, workmates annoying and you’ve got a bad case of office blues, you may want to reboot, recharge and re-energize your life with a career break.

Ditch your desk for a volcanic mud bath in Columbia, trekking in Ecuador, or kayaking in Patagonia…

To heck with it! Dalene and Peter Heck have done just that. They’re Canadian career-breakers who are currently in Belgium, their 11th country since chucking the corporate world, a big house in Calgary and cars.

“Our grey cubicles have been replaced by the whole wide world and it is literally our job to go and explore,” says Dalene.
The Hecks, both in their mid-30s, have “jumped off of mountains, swam with sharks and met some really incredible people from all different cultures,” says Dalene, adding they’ve done volunteer work too.

“We realize now that we don’t need to own a bunch of ‘stuff’ to make us happy - we are actually infinitely happier living with only whatever we can fit in our 130 litres of backpack space,” says Dalene, who details their adventures at

Although not a common company perk, work leaves are a growing trend and the perfect RX for an ailing workforce.
Reboot breaks are a boon, says Rita Foley, that benefit employees as well as customers and corporations. They’re an underutilized tool that is good for bottom line business results.

“We tune up our PCs, our cars, and our home heaters. Why not encourage our people to give their minds and their spirits a tune up? Time and time again sabbatical takers return as more interested and engaged employees, more loyal and more creative,” says Foley, co-author of Reboot Your Life. Energize Your Career and Life by Taking a Break. “Sabbaticals broaden a company by bringing in new ideas.”

Foley, who has taken four sabbaticals, helps companies set up sabbatical programs -- currently about 25% of the top-100 Fortune 500 companies offer unpaid or paid sabbatical programs.

And even in this economic maelstrom, there are “some brave people doing it without their company’s blessing – it can be done and can lead to happier things,” says Foley, of

Work breaks definitely offer a career advantage, adds Dalene. “Stepping away from the corporate world to recharge and learn about different places and cultures can only serve to improve a person’s perspective and outlook. Who wouldn’t want to hire that?”

A new Gap Adventure survey reveals nearly three-quarters of Canadians polled would make a mad dash out the office door for a travel leave if nothing stood in their way.

Jeff Jung went on a two-year career break in 2007 and explored South America, Turkey, Egypt and Europe. He learned how to ski and speak Spanish fluently and ultimately recharged his batteries and revitalized his passion for life and work.
Possible career collapse? “Just because you’re taking a break from your career does not mean that all your achievements and accomplishments are no longer valuable,” says Jung, the founder of

“Skills can be developed through various common sabbatical activities such as volunteering, teaching ESL or starting a blog.”

Additionally, travel improves soft skills, he says, including flexibility, patience, risk assessment, negotiation and decision making, says Jung.

“Just do it,” adds Dalene. “You will always be able to come up with a million reasons not to, but life will pass you by before you know it, and you don’t want to regret not following your dreams.

“We all have but one go-around on this earth, and there is no time like the present to make it happen.”

The Hecks don’t plan to return anytime soon and have taken up house sitting and building an online business to facilitate their indefinite sabbatical: “We can’t even fathom giving up this life that we love. There is too much world left to be explored.”

The couple excels at living cheaply, but there’s still a fear factor: “There are still times when we freak out a wee bit, worrying about money and such, but we are getting better at letting that go,” she adds. “We are both well educated and now ‘worldly’ people; I am sure we would have no problem picking up work again if we absolutely needed to.”
Change may be as good as a rest…

A more progressive work environment may be just what’s needed to boost morale, innovation and creativity.

Google is one company that encourages employees to work on projects outside of their direct area.

According to Google Canada’s Wendy Rozeluk, “the exchange of ideas is essential in creating a successful, collaborative working environment. This is why Google is organized into small flat teams that allow for interaction between all employees, from interns to executives.”

People are more productive when they are engaged in projects that really excite them, she says, so engineers at Google are given a lot of flexibility in choosing which projects they join.

“In addition to having input on their main work focus at Google, engineers are also encouraged to pursue any other Google-related interest for up to 20% of their normal working hours - whether that be researching a better parking plan or creating a new programming language,” she says.

Rozeluk reports that the unique 20% program is a critical driver in Google’s development of innovative ideas and products, including Google News, GMail, Google Talk, Ocean in Google Earth, Mars in Google Earth, Google Transparency Report, Orkut and various Android applications.

24 News: I kind of have a complaint.  I'm looking for these job articles from their "Workzone" section.  However, when I look for it on the internet, I can't find the article.  If I do find it, it's often in the press reader.  I can't get the whole article and I can't even copy and paste it.

Julie Tyios: I do like her Career Connect articles in 24 News.  They're well-written and helpful.

"Stop playing hooky at home": I cut out this article by Stefania Moretti in 24 News on Nov. 21, 2011.  It gives tips on how to be more productive while working at home.  I do my job search at home.  Here's the whole article:

A new survey has found nearly one-third of all remote workers spend one hour or less on the job when working from home.
Way to ruin it for the rest of us.

Results from a new survey released Thursday show that just 13% of telecommuters spend eight hours or more working, and 45% work between four and seven hours.

Overall, just one in five Canadians have the flexibility to work from home, the job site found. Of them, roughly 25% tend to work in pyjamas.

A separate Randstad study released Tuesday found more Canadians want flexible work arrangements.

Cloud-based services and smartphones mean telecommuters can be plugged into their offices like never before, said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

As a result, more companies are embracing the work-from-home option, and more workers are putting in full-time hours while at home.

"However, to avoid situations where telecommuters aren't putting in the necessary time, managers need to be clear about expectations and establish daily objectives. The autonomy of working from home can be very rewarding so long as it doesn't diminish productivity," she said.

Ask telecommuters, and 37% of them will say there are more productive at the office. Twenty-six percent believe they are more productive at home, while another 37% don't see a difference.

According to telecommuters, the biggest distractions at home include household chores (31%), TV (22%), errands (20%), children (18%), Internet (18%) and pets (9%).

Past surveys show some 88% of Canadian businesses now offer some type of flexible option, including part-time hours and work-from-home arrangements to save money and attract talent.

"Work arrangement flexibility increases an employee's ability to attain a realistic work-life balance," said Stacy Parker, vice-president marketing, Randstad Canada.

"Achieving a healthy work-life balance leads to a decrease in stress levels and work-life conflict, improved loyalty and morale from employees, a boost in productivity and drops in absenteeism," she said.

Harris Interactive polled 425 at least part-time telecommuters between May 19 and June 8 for the results of the CareerBuilder survey. With a sample of this size, one could say with a 95% probability that the overall results have a sampling error of /- 4.75 percentage points.

If you are among the lucky ones with the option to work from home, Haefner recommends the following tips to maximize your time:

· Keep a normal morning routine. The survey found that 25% of telecommuters tend to work in pyjamas. The truth is, you'll probably work better if you treat your mornings as if you were going to the office. If there's one good thing about a commute, it's that you get a mental transition between home and work life. Get out of bed, dress up, grab breakfast - do anything that will get your mind in the right place.

· Find the best spot to work. Even if you don't have a dedicated home office, it's important that you find the least distracting place in your home. Don't be tempted by the entertainment system or the recliner.

· Stay connected to colleagues. It's easier to slack off when you know your colleagues or managers aren't watching. If you're struggling to stay motivated at home, schedule an update meeting or call and talk shop with an office peer to get your mind back on work.

· Plan your breaks. You should never feel like a prisoner in your own home. Plan short breaks to take care of chores, play with pets, exercise or run a brief errand. You'll be less likely to succumb to quitting work early if you structure the perks of being at home appropriately into your schedule.

· Take your work to a coffee shop. A lot of workers don't like telecommuting because they're accustomed to working around others. Working at home can be lonely. If your job allows it, try spending an afternoon in a coffee shop or library. At many spots, you'll likely find contract workers or other telecommuters toiling away, as well.



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