February 18, 2014

How to take control of email

Email overload


Today, I came back from a holiday weekend to find myself facing email overload. It kind of made me feel overwhelmed before I even began my day. Can you relate?  It seems regardless of how hard I try to keep up, I just can't get email under control and taking off a few days made it worse. So, I'm the first one to welcome any advice on this topic. 

My guest blogger Dmitri Leonov, vp of growth for Sanebox, has some thoughts on gaining better control of your Inbox. Sanebox is email management software that filters messages, organizes them, and initiates reminders.

Here are Dmitri's 5 Shocking Facts About Email: 

Do you remember when you first got email? If you’re 35 or older, you might have imagined yourself as Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” about to get a message from your sexy soulmate thousands of miles away. If you're a Millennial, it was probably one of the first exciting “grown-up” things you got to do—and far less disturbing than those AOL chatrooms filled with creepy guys named Bob.


Sadly, the days of pure email joy have come to an end. Email has changed a lot in the last decade. Today, email often feels less like an exciting new friend and more like a bipolar stalker who screams at you all day. And if you’ve ever had a stalker, you know that they make it IMPOSSIBLE to get anything done.

Consider the following:

The average person spends 28% of work time reading and responding to email. 

“Emailing skills” probably wasn’t in your job listing, but emailing is likely the thing you do most at work. The McKinsey Global Institute found that the average employee spends 13 hours a week reading and responding to email—28% of a typical 40-hour workweek.

That means that the average employee is spending 650 hours a year reacting to largely non-urgent and irrelevant messages, distracted from the kind of work that actually moves a company forward. For employers, not having a smart email system is akin to burning money, which is totally illegal, by the way.

Less than half of emails deserve your attention.

You may feel like you need all of your emails right away, but that’s simply not the case. According to billions of internal SaneBox data points, only 42% of emails in the average inbox are important or relevant. The majority of your email can be processed in bulk at a later date or time. Imagine a world where your inbox is less than half as full. It’s pretty beautiful.

It takes 64 seconds to recover from an email.

That employees spend 28% of their time reading and responding to email is bad enough. What’s even worse is how long it takes to recover from an email. A case study conducted by the Danwood Group found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover from an email interruption and return to work (regardless of the email’s importance).

Imagine that you receive 10 emails an hour during the average workday. About six of those emails don’t need your attention, which means that if you check every one, you’re spending an additional 10% of your time (roughly) recovering and getting back to work.

Email overload increases stress levels.

If you feel like the last time you felt happy was during the Clinton administration, it doesn’t just mean that you’re probably a Democrat. It could also mean that your email habit is making life more stressful. A team of researchers at UC Irvine and the U.S. Army found that participants in a suburban office environment switched computer windows 18 times per hour if they did not have email access, versus 37 times per hour if they did. Those switching windows 37 times an hour were constantly in a “high alert” state, which resulted in a constant, “high-stress” heart rate. Considering the psychological and physiological damage that stress wages, getting your email under control may be the smartest health move you’ve made in a long time.

Banning email doesn’t work.

A 2012 study by the Grossman Group found that banning internal email or forbidding employees from using email outside of work hours simply doesn’t work. It stifles internal communication, and employees overwhelmingly hate such a policy. But that doesn’t mean employees are happy with the status quo. They want their email, but they also want the experience of using their email to be less insane. And that’s where SaneBox comes in. (See what I did there?)

 

 

Thanks Dmitri! And here's a review of Sanebox by PC Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 12, 2014

Too busy for love? Romance boosters to last long after Valentine's Day

 

  Maya Ezratti, Rewarding Relationships IMG 6898

(Below is an edited version of my column from today's Miami Herald)

 
Jeremy Wilson spends long days courting customers and building his South Florida software business. He arrives home with Bluetooth in ear, smartphone in hand, and engaged in conversation about cost structure or competitive advantages. Married for 19 years, Wilson said he typically eats a quick dinner with his wife and logs on to tackle email: “I just need to focus on my business right now.”

With more dual earning couples and today intense work demands, sustaining romantic relationships takes awareness and intention.  Most couples remember to express their love on Valentine’s Day, but experts say there are plenty of ways to keep the passion alive all year.

• Ditch the excuses: To rekindle romantic love in a relationship, start by taking responsibility. “Working hard, being tired, that’s not an excuse,” says Maya Ezratti, a Miami relationship expert (pictured above) and founder of Rewarding Relationships, a dating and relationship counseling firm. “If you don’t’ have five minutes for your partner, your husband or wife, then who are you giving all your love in life to?” Ezratti finds an increasing number of people are complaining about a love partner, male or female, present at home but still connected to work. Some will argue that it’s the new norm. That, too, is not an excuse.

•  Show more affection: Work demands make it easy to overlook being affectionate at home. But maintaining passion can be as easy as holding your partner’s hand. “A touch goes a long way,” Ezratti says. She suggests making an effort to kiss your spouse when you walk in the door after work. Or, if you’re the one home first, acknowledge the other person’s entrance in a loving way. “You both should look forward to coming home after work.” Making an effort to show emotional affection helps, too. Ezratti says your partner should feel you have his or her back at home and work: “The reality is one person’s career is not more important. I don’t care if he is the CEO and she’s a nurse or the other way around. Part of being romantic is to help facilitate each other in being successful.”

• Communicate differently: When infatuation wears off, avoiding couple burnout requires letting your life partner know when you need more attention or excitement. “Sometimes, when one person is working too much, it doesn’t occur to them that it’s impacting the relationship. You have to sit and have a chat, and tell them what you feel can be done to fix the relationship,” says Ernest Quansah, president of Relationship Advice for Success, a relationship counseling firm in British Columbia. “But that doesn’t make it OK to neglect a relationship.”

• Mix it up: Bringing back freshness in a relationship takes creativity. Even date night can get old if you’re always renting a movie or going to the same restaurant. Jennifer Sneeden, founder of Boca Marriage Counseling, recommends breaking out of the routine and trying new ways to spend time together — going dancing, taking an exercise class or eating pizza in the back yard. Watching romantic movies might be another option. A study by researchers at University of Rochester found that viewing five films a month, with relationships as their main focus, and discussing them afterward, can get couples through rocky patches and could even cut the divorce rate in half. They concluded many couples have relationship skills, but they needed reminders like those in romantic films like Love Story or The Way We Were, to put skills into practice. Quansah says men need to realize that women want their husbands to be their best friends. “When she goes out with you, she wants to laugh and have fun. If that happens, she’s yours forever.”

Increase Intimacy. Given most people’s hectic schedules, the intimacy once enjoyed may now be just tired sex, if it’s happening at all. One in every four married or cohabitating Americans claim they're so sleep-deprived that they're often too tired to have sex, according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation. Larisa Wainer, relationship specialist with the Morris Psychological Group in New Jersey, says it may sound boring but she recommends couples schedule sex on the calendar. “The fact that sex is spontaneous is a myth,” Wainer says. She urges couple to agree on how many times a week they will have sex and try to stick to the plan. “If it hasn’t happened yet, let the other person know you’re looking forward to it happening.” To build desire, dole out more compliments. “Aim for five compliments each day,” Sneeden says. “The first few times it may feel phony or forced but it will turn the tide of the relationship.”

• Find new ways to flirt. If the sparks are fading, heat them up by making your partner feel desirable. Try flirty text messages to build excitement for a later sexual encounter or romantic evening together. Emails work, too. Miami atttorney Patricia Redmond says she and her husband swap about 25 emails a day to stay connected. The content may be about new case law or upcoming adventure travel, “but they always include XOXO,” she says. Redmond and her husband, attorney Jerry Markowitz, are married 28 years and both practice corporate bankruptcy law at different firms. They are planning an upcoming trip to Hawaii in May for a legal conference and fun. Their recent emails start with “aloha.” “It’s easy to get into a routine so we build excitement for our time away together,” Redmond says.

Image1
(Patricia and Jerry)

• Use apps. Of course, in today’s high tech world, there are Apps to help. The Tell My Wife I Love Her habit has become one of the most popular on Lift.do, an app that helps people track personal goals. Quanash says old fashioned romancing works too. He charms his woman by cooking a signature dish and naming it for her.

The bottom line is to keep romance alive, “Your partner must know that he or she is a priority in your life, not just an item on a to-do list,” says Wainer.

So, do you find it a challenge to keep romance alive? Do you find yourself making your career a priority at times?

 

December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! May you find the work life balance you want in 2014!

Is it just me or are the years going by much faster? For me, as my kids grow older and near college age, I'm more motivated than ever to make each day, month and year as fulfilling as possible. 

This time of year, many people will tell me that want better work life balance in the new year. They want more fulfillment from life. My response is "what does that look like for you?"

Does it mean eating dinner with as a family a few nights a week? Does it mean reclaiming Saturdays for personal time? Does it mean devoting more time to your career so you can achieve your goals? 

Once you know exactly what it means, figure out what you need to do to make it happen. Remember creating a habit or breaking an old one takes time and practice. It requires change. What specifically are you going to do to make sure that change happens. If you want to eat dinner with your kids, post a photo of you doing it somewhere you will see it each day -- like on your computer desktop. A visual prompt helps!

If you mess up and spend a Saturday at the office, don't fret or give up. Change the background on your mobile phone to yourself on the beach as motivation for making it happen the next week. 

All of us can and should work toward living the most fulfilling life possible. 

Happy New Year to All!

 

December 18, 2013

10 to-dos you should get to before 2013 runs out

Each day, I scurry around town trying to enjoy the festiveness I'm supposed to be experiencing while I check stuff off my to-do list. A good day is when I get to at least five items. I decided this week to approach the end of year craziness with some strategy. What are the things I should make priorities?  I came up with 10 action steps that will better position you and me for work-life balance, career success and financial wellness in 2014. 

• Get to the doctor. Even if you’re not sick, you might want to visit your doctor in December. Most healthcare flexible spending accounts mandate that the money you contribute be spent before year’s end or you forfeit whatever remains. Don’t let that money go to waste. It can be used tax-free for contact lenses and glasses, prescription drugs, co-pays for health services. Another reason to scramble for a doctor’s appointment: With some insurance policies, the plan year ends on Dec. 31. If you have met your deductible, you will want to get your medical visits or procedures completed while your insurer picks up the tab.

• Assess time off. By now, you know whether you have neglected to take time to rest and relax in 2013. If you’ve left some of your earned time off on the company clock, you’re not alone. The Society for Human Resource Management found employees at 61 percent of its member organizations had an average of three or more unused vacation days each year. Lisa Orndorff, SHRM’s manager of employee relations, said managers should encourage their people to use their leave and take a break from the work, even if it’s just a day or two every few months. If possible, use December to take your remaining days off and study the 2014 calendar to schedule vacation days now for next year.

• Network into the new year. Get into the right frame of mind, and the holiday season is rich with networking opportunities. Industry open houses, holiday gatherings and even friends’ holiday parties are an opportunity to make connections. “You never know where your best friend’s cousin works or who he knows,” says Amanda Augustine, job search expert for TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals. Job hunters often think that December is a dead month, but that’s not the case; more people are hired in December and January than any other months, according to CareerBuilder.com, an online employment website. Networking isn’t limited to parties. “The holidays are a great excuse to reconnect with a recruiter or future customer by email or a handwritten card,” Augustine says. “You don’t need to fabricate a reason. Take this time to send a holiday greeting or end-of-year wish for a great new year. It’s an opportunity to put yourself back on the front burner.”

• Max out contributions. While you’re busy buying gifts, remember that the biggest gift you can give yourself is a comfortable retirement. Joseph L. Saka, director in charge of the Tax Services practice of accounting firm Berkowitz Pollack Brant in Miami, suggests you use the year end to max out your annual contributions to retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs. “By contributing to your retirement plans, you not only save for the future, you also reduce your taxable income,” he said.

• Close a deal. In business, deal-making heats up right about now, so get in the game. David Wells, shareholder in the corporate department of law firm Greenberg Traurig in Miami, explains some of the reasons for the end-of-year scramble. First, people often are more cooperative in early and mid-December in anticipation that activity will slow when people take time off. Another motivation is tax implications. If you’re selling a business or asset, you may want to recognize a loss or gain on the sale in 2013, depending on your tax position. Lastly, if your company awards bonuses or assesses you on performance for the calendar year, your motivation to close the deal could be driven by compensation. “All these factors may motivate people to devote the energy to get transactions done,” Wells said.

• Position yourself. Now’s the time to evaluate your next career move. Casandra Roache, a Fort Coach cassLauderdale life coach and founder of InspireMany.com, suggests having a conversation with your supervisor about moving up the ladder. “If there is no next step, maybe it’s time to look for a new job. If there is one, establish a guideline for what you need to do to achieve it.” If you are the business owner rather than employee, set business goals now to be ready for January. “If you want to earn $20,000 more, that could mean an extra 10 clients or a higher price point,” Roache says. Also, December can be an ideal time to negotiate a raise as companies set new budgets for 2014. “Look at your current job description and put in writing what you have done above that job description. You want real results that you can have a conversation about,” she says.

• Clean out email. Declare email bankruptcy or move all email to an archive and start fresh for 2014, suggests Shani Magosky, a business/productivity coach with Vitesse Consulting in Fort Lauderdale. “I’ve seen executives so distracted by minutiae, especially their email, that they are not fully present mentally and emotionally.” She says to only touch an email message once: Delete it, file it in folders or turn it into a task. “Usually those emails that linger require action. That’s how people end up using email as to-do lists instead of as a repository for communication.”

• Review social media and email marketing strategies. If you don’t know what online marketing efforts are working for you, now’s your chance to figure it out. Alex de Carvalho, South Florida regional development director for Constant Contact, suggests offering a holiday or end-of-year promotion to one set of customers and a different one to another set. “That can give you clues on how to take it forward next year.” For anyone active on social media, it’s a good time to craft an editorial calendar for 2014, he says. Quarterly objectives and seasonality should drive customer interactions, such as what you tweet about or promotions you include in your email marketing campaigns.

• Be charitable. If you’ve been meaning to contribute time or money to a good cause, get to it. For many charities, end-of-year fundraising is the difference between a successful year and financial hard times, and it might be your opportunity for a 2013 tax deduction. Experts suggest you give to charities that have the biggest impact on making change. To motivate kids to be charitable, pick a cause that has meaning to them and fit volunteer time into your holiday schedule, or clean closets and donate clothing and toys for which they no longer have use.

• Break a bad habit. Use December to figure out what held you back from achieving work-life balance. Did you work on weekends or spend your evenings toiling at your computer? Magosky Shani Magosky Headshot suggests taking time to understand why you want to change a habit and what is at stake if you don’t change it. The next step is narrowing the focus of what you want to change to one actionable task, such as leaving work one day a week by 5 p.m. Then, figure out a way to keep that intention at the top of your mind and identify someone who will hold you accountable. It takes about 21 days for a new habit to take hold.

 

 If there's something you think I should add to my list, please let me know!

October 30, 2013

10 Workplace Trends that Affect the Way We Work

 

Eric Holland designs office space for ADD, Inc. at One Biscayne tower in Miami, but his own office reflects the new design of a more collaborative space where workers can move themselves to other desks around them to work in teams. CW Griffin / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

As we wind down the year, I’ve identified major workplace trends affecting the way we work.

From an individual perspective, understanding these trends will give you an advantage. From an employer perspective, it will help make more informed business decisions. Here are my top 10 that I believe will define 2013 and reshape the way we work in 2014.

1. Flexibility rises in importance. Ask employees what benefit they most value: Flexibility is at the top of their wish lists. Most say it is a key factor they consider when looking for a new job or deciding between offers — and they’re often willing to sacrifice salary to get it.

 What might surprise you is that most working parents (80 percent) say they have “at least a little” flexibility in their current job. That number rises a little each year, according to Moms Corp., a professional staffing franchise that has a focus on flexible placements.

2. Job stress gets attention. More than eight in 10 employed Americans are stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs — mostly poor pay and increasing workloads, according to a 2013 Work Stress Survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College.

The stress has permeated all levels within organizations. Lindsey Pollak, Gen Y career expert and spokeperson for The Hartford Insurance Group’s My Tomorrow campaign, says stress and anxiety are the top reasons millennials use disability insurance. Over the past three years, Ceridian, a provider of employee assistance and wellness programs, reports a 30 percent increase in calls related to stress. Mary Jane Konstantin of Ceridian said employers are addressing this growing concern through stress reduction workshops, on-site chair massages and wellness programs: “It’s within a company’s best interest to think through how it can support activities to help employees better handle stress.”

3. Freelancers rise in numbers. Right now, mid-size and large businesses are hiring freelancers in record numbers to help deal with the rapid pace of change and innovation in the global economy and control costs. New data show one-third of American workers are freelancers. Next year, there will be millions more freelancers, replacing full-time workers, reports NBC News.

A study by Accenture, a management-consulting firm, shows that “even top-level managers and executive teams are being replaced by temporary CEOs, CFOs, COOs and other highly skilled troubleshooters.” Accenture found that the top fields for freelance work include sales and marketing, IT and programming, design and multimedia, engineering and manufacturing, and writing and translation

4. Overtime pay heats up. Employers continue to be besieged by wage-and-hour lawsuits. The wave of class actions started with claims that employers were misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits and overtime. Settlements of wage-and-hour cases totaled about $2.7 billion from 2007 to 2012, with $467 million coming from last year, according to a new U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform trends report. “Certainly, the trend in wage-and-hour class actions is they are growing and they are here to stay,” said Paul Ranis at the Greenberg Traurig law firm in Fort Lauderdale.

5. Collaboration gains importance. Companies want their staff working in teams, sharing ideas and solving problems. The concept has sparked changes in staffing, office design and the way work is done. It has even triggered some companies, such as Yahoo, to bring remote workers back to the office. Eric Holland, a senior associate principal at ADD Inc., an architecture and design firm in Miami, said clients from accounting firms to call centers have hired him to redesign their workplaces to decrease worker isolation. Many clients want more open layouts with shared spaces and more break rooms, he said. He also said that some clients also want less hierarchy: They want workers at all levels to occupy the same size offices or workstations so they can move and work together more easily.

6. Generational shifts take hold. The shift in workplace demographics is happening in a workplace near you. Boomers are starting to retire, freeing up positions for Gen X and Gen Y managers to move into.

“There will be shift in leadership and the way companies are run,” said Lisa Bonner, senior vice president at Roberts Golden Consulting, Inc. “If there is no pipeline, we’re going to see some gaps. That’s going to be a challenge.”

7. Work-life boundaries erode and get reset. Technology enables many workers to take their jobs home with them and their personal lives to the office. “We’re not hemmed in anymore by walls or clocks,” notes Konstantin.

Yet for all the benefits, workers are feeling exhausted by being “always on.” Konstantin says companies are realizing it — yet many have set up the expectation that their workers are on call 24/7. Now, the conversations are around what’s the middle ground and how to create boundaries, she said.

8. Women outpace men in workplaces. One billion women will enter the workplace in the next decade. Research shows that they are more educated than men and are starting to take leadership positions. Already, four in 10 American households with children younger than age 18 include a mother who is the sole or primary earner for her family, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

Jennifer Van Buskirk, president of Aio Wireless, plays that role in her family. “It’s empowering,” she said. “You establish your values, priorities and what you want to accomplish.” However, at home, the new dynamic does require marital negotiation: “In my family, we discuss how team Van Buskirk is going to approach life, and we divvy up responsibilities. It all works.”

9. Employees take to social media. Companies are struggling with policy around use of social media at the office. Some will start to leverage their talent and use employees as social-media advocates to recruit staff and market to customers online. Of course, employers will continue to need to remind workers to use common sense on the Internet.

10. Companies embrace employee retention. Employees have lost their enthusiasm. According to the latest State of the American Workplace Report, 70 percent of U.S. workers don’t like their job. In 2013, companies began realizing that they should be concerned about this because it’s costing them money. Disengaged workers can impact everything from customer service to sales and other business areas. The best companies will take the time to understand what drives their workforce and customize a plan to motivate their employees.

If you see other workplace trends, what are they? Which ones on my list do you think are long-term trends?

 

October 23, 2013

When work life balance gets overwhelming, consider a radical sabbatical

My friend, Laura Berger, did what most of us only dream of doing. She ditched her stressful life in the city and her struggles to achieve work life balance and headed to the jungle for a radical sabbatical. Berger is now back in the corporate world, coaching corporate executives how to get ahead, but she credits her time in the jungle with giving her new perspective. 

Laura and her husband, Glen Tibaldeo have published a book about their experience and lessons learned on their sabbatical. It's a great read and has been described as a couples Eat, Pray, Love meets the Hangover. Today, Glen is my guest blogger and shares some insights.

Radical Sabbatical, an Amazon Kindle bestseller by Laura Berger and Glen Tibaldeo, is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com. Check out Owen Wilson Loves Radical Sabbatical

Laura Berger and Glen Tibaldeo

The Joys of Imbalance

Is your life out of balance? Why you should be thrilled.

by Glen Tibaldeo

“I was a magnet to a better professional image. If all of a sudden those guys following horses in parades with shovels drove BMWs, wore Armani, and were the talk at cocktail parties, I’d be the first to sign up for a Master’s of Science in Equestrian Excrement Elimination. Add to that my all-or-nothing mentality and my need to be a hero for more kudos and accolades. If too much of a good thing is bad, then what’s too much of a bad thing?”

This is how my wife Laura and I describe my life before our big adventure in Radical Sabbatical began. But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and nowhere is it more apparent than in our story. I was a hopelessly overworked geek who had inflicted an extreme imbalance to my life, and the universe was yearning to rectify it.

And so at 35, Laura and I moved to the gorgeous, untouched seaside town that we call Pair-o-Dice village. In less than twenty-four hours we had gone from roaring subway trains and dodging fellow sidewalk pedestrians to rugged dirt roads and wildlife dripping from the trees—so plentiful that sometimes it just randomly fell from the sky.

And all the while, all we could wonder was, “why us?” “Why here?” And “How did we get here?” But with time comes wisdom. We can see how the universe corrects all imbalances -- and get this: the less balance you have, the more the cosmos wants to get you there. So how ironic that when your life feels out of whack — when it is, you’ll know it — the universe is waiting to push you to center.

So what are the laws of nature waiting for? They’re waiting for you to just give things a good, deliberate nudge. Yes, Laura and I went from the big city to the middle of nowhere overnight, but it took us 2 years to analyze all our options and make our decision. But once we decided to quit our jobs and move to the jungle, our world blew up.  

We describe that life-changing explosion in Radical Sabbatical, our new comedic travel memoir about the time we risked everything we had to get the life we always wanted. In the midst of a setting that couldn’t be better for someone in the right mindset to find inner peace, we struggled to adjust to our abrupt life change. We battled serpents and surreal insects. We risked our lives on harrowing mountain runs in decrepit 4x4s. We were given mysterious potions from shamans. Laura, until then deathly afraid of heights, launched herself off a 2,000 foot mountainside. And last, but certainly not least, we rather clumsily navigated a brand new culture.

And to experience all that, all we had to do was decide to make a change. That may seem hard from where you’re sitting, but once you have decided to move, you’ll wonder what you were waiting for.

Still not convinced you’ve got it in you? Here are a few things you can do to give things that little nudge:

1. Think of a handful of easy and enjoyable tasks you can do to make progress toward your big dream. The hardest and most important part is starting.

2. Post pictures or collages of your dream life in the places you go most frequently. The more joy you can simulate, your subconscious will eventually want to make that dream happen.

3. Clear minor changes from your life so you can focus on the big bang of your dream. Your spirit can only take so much change at once.

4. Anyone trying to shake up their lives experiences significant setbacks. God knows we did. Anticipate them, so they won’t throw you off balance when they happen.

5.If you’re having trouble getting in the right mindset to start, go on vacation somewhere with the express goal of thinking and fantasizing about your new life. Habits play a huge part in staying in a rut. Just changing settings can be enough to get you to decide to get going.

 

We owe our exciting lives as they are now to that magical and trying time in the jungle. The people we met, the experiences we had, and all our successes and failures made the jungle both a natural theme park and life boot camp.

The brilliance of it all is that if you are so far out of balance that you can’t even see straight, you might just be on the precipice of the ride of your life.

 

October 17, 2013

Is this all there is? How to find more fulfillment in life

Have you ever asked yourself, "Is this all this is?"

My guest blogger today, Gayle Carson, noticed that people hit their 50s and often start asking themselves that question. So, she began working with boomers on reinventing themselves from the inside out, in both their personal and business lives to help them feel more satisfied. She now has two different radio shows--"Women in Business" and "Living Regret Free." Her website is www.spunkyoldbroad.com.

If you find yourself asking "Is this all their is?" then Gayle has some advice that should help.

 

GCarsonwebAfter five decades of business success, I was hit with a 10-year span of unbelievable challenges. I had built a business from nothing to seven offices and 350 people. I sold that and embarked on a magical speaking and consulting career with 1,000 clients in 50 industries. I worked in 50 countries and 49 states. Then I co-founded an internet information marketing association and now, I am working with boomer women and beyond on the joy of living.

During this time, I raised three children, helped my husband develop a real estate business and volunteered and led many professional and community organizations.

I had a wonderful life. And then—-everything changed.

 In a 10-year period, I lost a son, a husband, had my third case of breast cancer, custody of a grandchild, and my 16th surgery. To make it even worse, almost to the day my husband died, the real estate market collapsed.

Yet, people kept remarking that I always seemed happy and had a smile on my face. They questioned why I wasn’t depressed or feeling sorry for myself.

To me, it was simple. You have choices in life, and mine was to be happy. 

But that's when I began to notice that women in the 50 to 65 age range were expressing emotions of being invisible and feeling incomparable stress from being responsible for elder care and having older children come back home to live.

I kept hearing thee phrase “Is that all there is?” over and over again and this was from homemakers, business women and society people. As I listened more and more, I realized this was a very common problem.

No one seemed to know how to deal with it.

It became my mission to work with this population to show them how to live a regret free life. I developed what I call “The 9 Secrets to Living Regret Free” and started speaking and writing about them wherever I could. 

Here's a glimpse at my nine secrets:

#1 Attitude and Spirit

We know that your mindset has to be right for you to live a life without regret.

#2 Fit and Fabulous

We are aware that the benefits to being healthy and a lifestyle of wellness pays off with big dividends.

#3 Uniqueness

Most people don’t think they’re unique. But I know you are. I know it sounds scary, but writing your own obituary will enlighten you.

#4 Energizing Your Life

I believe everyone should wake up with a smile on their face and go to sleep in peace. Discovering what you love to do will make all the difference in how you live your life.

#5 Power Relationships

I know you’re aware that everyone is supposed to be just six degrees away from Kevin Bacon. Well even if you don’t have a high level job or are the King or Queen of Society, you can have power relationships.

#6 Personal Growth

 Keeping your mind active and alert is important for your mental and spiritual growth

#7 Taking and Keeping Control

You must control your life if you want to change it.

#8 Balance

Everyone talks about balance, but how many people practice it. Are you one who does?

#9 Plan for Daily Living

It all comes down to having a plan. Whether it’s in business or your personal life, you need a plan.

 

If you are unhappy with your situation, you need to change it and live out your dreams. What have you done lately to move yourself in that direction?

 

 

September 10, 2013

Work life balance, time management and sex

Penelope Trunk, one of my favorite bloggers, often writes about what I'm thinking and might be too embarassed to say aloud.

Yesterday, Penelope hit on the topic of time management and sex. In her first marriage, she admits, she barely had sex, which is a mistake she vows not to have in her second marriage. So, she keeps tabs. But the problem she encounters is one that many women face. Our nights have become as busy as our days, particularly when we have children. 

For working moms who rush home from work to spend time with their families, the evening is the only time that we can finish things up. We talk to our kids, look over homework, put them to bed and then -- we retreat to our home offices or our laptops to get to whatever we didn't get to earlier. I do this ALL the time.

But for me and many other women, the evening also ia the only time my husband and I can spend time together.

Trunk writes that for her and her hubby, "It’s the time we talk about schedules, we watch TV shows on Netflix, and sometimes, if everything goes well, we have sex."

Now, this is where the problem lies. How many of you have had an argument with your husband about being on your computer at night and not paying him attention (and this includes sex)? Is your hand raised because mine is way up high!

Because of the ease in which we can log back into work from home, it's tempting to let our work creep into our evenings.

Penelope says calls sex "the hardest time mangement decision of my day." She writes: "sex and work and kids don’t go well together because the only time that’s left over for sex is the time when you are done taking care of kids and have to make up the lost work time. There’s a reason that you have a lull in your email during dinnertime and then it picks up after kids go to bed: it’s all the parents of the workforce fitting in family time. And not sex."

Not long ago, I was chatting with a woman who consults mom entrepreneurs. She told me she worries about the health of marriages because so many women are up at night clacking on their key boards -- and not having sex or even having a simple conversation with their spouse. ( Men, of course, do this too)

Maybe we all need to heed Penelope's warning, keep tabs, and think more consciously about time management and sex. Maybe we need to make time for our spouses because if we don't, sex often becomes the first to go, and marriage is soon to follow.

Thanks Penelope for the reminder!

August 21, 2013

There is help for working moms (and dads)

The start of the school year is hectic in my home. Judging by the conversations in the school supply aisle of Target this week, I'm not alone. But I know lots of working moms (and dads) who are making their work life balance easier this year by outsourcing responsiblities.

Today, in my Miami Herald column, I wrote about this trend. I'm convinced, there will be even more services catering to working parents in the next few years.

 

There’s help for busy moms who can’t do it all

 
 
Customers Zora Guzman and Mateo use the Moms Helping Moms shuttle.
Customers Zora Guzman and Mateo use the Moms Helping Moms shuttle. 

BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

BALANCEGAL@GMAIL.COM

Just after breakfast, a van pulls up at the Lopez home in Coral Springs. Thirteen-year-old Emily gets in and heads off to middle school, saving mom, Diana, from delaying her 1 ½-hour commute to her job in Miami. The same shuttle picks Emily up after school and takes her to ballet class. Some afternoons, it picks up her older sister at home and takes her to be tutored in math or takes her home from school if she stays late for a club meeting.

Lopez, an international private banker whose husband works in Miami too, says hiring a transportation service has been the only way she can keep a regular work schedule, be home for dinner and have her children participate in after-school activities. “I believe in the theory that it takes a village to raise a child,” Lopez says. “But these days, we’re hiring the village.”

Working parents today are paying others to do things for our children that our parents did themselves — drive our kids to school, help them with homework, cook for our families and take them to baseball practice. The services are needed because things have changed dramatically for working mothers in the last few decades. For starters, there are simply many more moms in the labor force. The participation rate has skyrocketed to more than 70 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Family economics have change dramatically, too. As the number of women in the workforce swelled, so, too, did their contribution to family income. A record 40 percent of all households with children include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11 percent in 1960. With mothers contributing more, managing a household becomes a simple equation of trading money for time.

It can be an expensive exchange — financially and emotionally — and not everyone can afford it.

“It’s a struggle working moms go through,” Lopez says. “We ask ourselves, ‘Am I passing off something I should be doing myself?’ But then, we have to be realistic.”

Moms Helping Moms, the northwest Broward County shuttle service used by the Lopez family, gets $60 to $80 per child per week for roundtrip carpooling within five miles — more for greater distances. Founder Sharron Gay says she launched her business three years ago. As a mom who commuted an hour to work, she saw the need. “Life is too short to feel guilty or overwhelmed. We’re here to make your life easier,” the website boasts.

Gay’s five vans, driven only by moms, shuttle kids to school, activities, orthodontist appointments and sports practices. They even pick up sick children from school and bring them home. Gay says she offers the service moms want — assuring them that the bus won’t leave until the child enters the home safely. “We do things the way moms would,” she says. Gay says her service is profitable and she has plans to add more vans and new geographic areas by 2014.

Others see opportunity, too. Fueled by demand from working parents, a burgeoning cottage industry handling chores for working parents is flourishing. There are reading specialists who get $40 to $50 an hour to assist students individually at their homes on reading and writing. There are businesses that will bring dinner to hungry kids waiting for mom and dad to get home from work.

Ryan Sturgis, a partner in Delivery Dudes, says his business picks up meals from local restaurants and delivers them to Broward County homes. It has seven geographic locations (plans to add more) and charges a $5 delivery fee.

“We get a lot of moms who call on their way home from work. We tell them we can be there with dinner within 45 minutes.”

Some parents turn their world upside down to manage responsibilities before finally accepting that they can’t do it all. Eventually, they discover outsourcing a necessary expense to keep their jobs, reduce stress or get ahead in the workplace.

Miami mother Gabrielle D’Alemberte, makes a priority of the things she feels a mother should do, such as attending school functions and tucking her daughter into bed. But the single mom says she couldn’t continue to work as a trial attorney if she didn’t outsource some tasks at work and home. She has hired someone to pick her daughter up from the bus stop and take her to ballet lessons. In the past, she has hired a company to deliver meals to her home and she’s employed someone to go over her daughter’s homework and review for tests.

D’Alemberte specializes in litigation against large international resorts and often travels for work.

“I could not have had the job and profession I’ve chosen without the help I have gotten in bringing up my wonderful 13 year old,” she says. “Knowing I can’t do it all makes it easier to hire people to help.”

In a twist on outsourcing, working parents also are automating. Whitney Zimet, who ran a community coupon site for five years, hired math and Spanish tutors for her two kids. She even searched for a service to pack healthy lunch box meals. But Zimet turns to technology for relief from some tasks — using Amazon to get home delivery of required reading materials, ongoing school supplies and birthday gifts. She uses auto-delivery for kids’ vitamins and household products. .

It used to be a real point of pride for women who stayed home to take care of every aspect of their families’ lives, she says. Now women are in the workforce, used to thinking practically and doling out tasks to solve problems, and scrutinizing the value of an expense, she says. “Most of us are aware of what needs Mom’s attention, but we’re also looking at what can make our life easier."

 

June 06, 2013

The Secret to a More Productive Summer

 

  Prosummer 

These last few weeks, work life balance has been elusive. I've been crazed with the wind down of the school year and the multitude of awards ceremonies, graduation parties and performances.

 

Now here comes summer, a chance to break from routine and put a little more fun into my life. I'm looking forward to it!

 

I'm also looking forward to using the slow season to my advantage and making my summer productive. I bet you are too. If all of us are strategic, we can emerge from summer more relaxed, fulfilled, and well positioned for career success.

 

Here are a few ways to go about it:

 

1. Scope out the competition. Summer presents an ideal opportunity to study your competitors and find out what they're doing right. Research what marketing materials they are using and how they are embracing social networks. Seek opinions from customers and figure out what you might want to replicate. or improve upon. 

 

2. BrainstormIt can be challenging to think big picture when you're shuttling kids to school, helping with homework or working on a giant office project. As clients and co-workers take their vacations, use the slow time to come up with new ideas, campaigns, or approaches to doing business or solving problems. Make it fun. Take a walk at lunch or eat on a bench and come up with new ways to be better at what you do.

 

3. Get out of the office. Take advantage of somewhat lighter summer schedules and extend an invitation to a someone in your industry you've wanted to get to know. Busy people are more likely to say yes during summer. It's also a good time to go to networking events, conferences or host an office barbecue.

 

4. Assess. You probably set goals or made resolutions in January. Review them and figure out whether you're on pace to meet them by the end of the year. If you find yourself falling short, either adjust your expectations or figure out what changes to make. You may even want to set new goals to hit by year end.

 

5. Learn a new skill. Have you wanted to learn how to use Twitter or Pinterest? Do you want to get a better understanding of business terms or learn how to make flan? How-to Webinars, tutorials and online courses abound on the Internet. Set aside a block of time each week for learning.

 

6. Refresh Websites and Social Media Profiles. Having your online information as current as possible will help you in business. People often look for you online before they call you. Update your profile information in the "about" sections of social networks and create a Wikipedia page for yourself.

 

7. Go somewhereGetting away gives you perspective. A week vacation is ideal but not everyone can take time off. Look at how you can rearrange your schedule to zip somewhere for a long weekend or overnight trip. Even if you don't travel far, a shift in scenery can make you feel far away and help you head into Fall feeling refreshed.

 

 

Have a fun and productive summer!