Category Archives: Cindy Goodman – Work/Life Balancing Act

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal, provider of news and advice on how to find balance between a successful career and fulfilling personal life. Her award-winning, nationally distributed column and blog, The Work Life Balancing Act, appears weekly in The Miami Herald and more than 100 newspapers.

Cindy understands why people today feel overwhelmed by numerous demands on their time. She has given balance tips on television’s CBS 4/My 33 as well at public speaking appearances. Cindy publishes a monthly e–newsletter on work life balance and contributes to widely read publications such as Money Magazine and Florida Trend. Cindy also participates in the blogger communities for MomsMiami.com and Lifetime Channel’s The Balancing Act. Previously, Cindy worked as a staff business writer for more than 25 years, specializing in coverage of the law, women in business, and workplace issues.

Cindy gives back to her local community through the Teen Speaks mentoring program and as board member of Women Executive Leadership. She is a Broward County Middle School PTA Volunteer Coordinator and serves on a committee of Debbie’s Dream Foundation. Cindy also has served as a judge for The Miami Herald’s Silver Knight Awards and National Association of Women Business Owners BRAVO Awards.

Cindy graduated from University of Florida and lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and three children.

Ways to combat Inbox overload

 How to protect yourself from the surge of emails, clean out your Inbox and develop better habits for 2012.

As you forge into 2012 with a gargantuan number of emails messages, it’s time to do something drastic — consider an Extreme Inbox Makeover.

Like many of you, I feel I could get much better at dealing with email. My Inbox holds a deluge of correspondence tallying up to more than 2,000 emails. Sorting through it affects my productivity — one quick peek can lead to toiling in email land for hours.

But it’s a new year and that means opportunity to start over. The experts advise we start 2012 by walking away from all prior email buildup and wiping the slate clean — sort of.

Just like cleaning out the garage, we need to purge, sort and develop better habits to prevent the mess from reappearing.

The first step is paring back. Productivity expert Audrey Thomas of OrganizedAudrey.com suggests holding onto email from December 2011 and January in our active Inbox. Then, she wants us to create a file folder for July through November 2011 and another for January to June 2011. Messages from 2010 get slid into a file folder and anything prior gets deleted, she says.

Marketing strategist Arminda “Mindy” Figueroa shivers at the thought of hitting delete. Like me she suffers from the “just in case” syndrome. She will hold on to an email in her inbox just in case she may need to reference or forward it months later.

“Right now I have 12,166 emails,” she confesses to me. “I think all are important to keep.” Figueroa, president of Latin2Latin Marketing & Communications in Fort Lauderdale, spends two hours every morning reading email from clients across the country before she even gets to the office. “I did get rid of 20,000 emails before the holidays. That’s a huge accomplishment. I’m taking baby steps to getting better.”

Thomas brings to my attention that even if we dig up an email older than 2010, it typically has outdated information. We can find more current information through Linked In or Google. And, if we’re worried about losing a contact, she suggests creating an electronic contact for categories — such as graphic designers, home contractors, etc. Also, most of us subscribe to newsletters we delete without opening. To cut back on inbox clutter, the new year is an ideal time to unsubscribe.

Of course, a makeover requires new email habits.

“Every email is decision waiting to be made,” Thomas says. “You need to become a good decision maker. When you read an email and go to the next and don’t make a decision, at end of the day you’ve read 73 emails and they are still sitting there, cluttering your inbox. Now you have to re-read them.”

Tackle email by replying on the spot to any that will take two minutes or less to address. Don’t even file them away. Just get them out of the way immediately with a brief and to the point response. Experts say half of emails can be deleted once read. Where we tend to falter is using our Inbox as a filing cabinet or to-do list, and that’s how important meetings or action steps get overlooked. Often, I rely on the search function of my inbox to track down a message from months ago. “You can cut the search time in half if you make a decision on messages right away,” Thomas says.

Productivity experts suggest using file folders. I’ve discovered that how many folders and what you name them can get extremely personal. “You need to set up something that works for YOU,” says Lorena Prime, founder of Clearly Organized. “There is no one solution that works for everybody, so you can try several ideas and see what works. Tweak your methodology until you’re happy with it and it becomes automatic.”

Tech blogger Gina Trapani uses a three-folder system. Follow-up — for messages you have to respond to or act on that will take longer than a couple of minutes. (There’s a corresponding item on her to-do list for each of these messages.) Hold — for messages that involve something she is waiting on to happen, like a package shipment or event invitation. (There’s a corresponding item on her calendar for each of these messages.) Archive — for messages she’s done with but wants to keep for reference.

Kathy Koch, president of Ambit Advertising in Fort Lauderdale, creates folders for each client, each organization she participates in and a personal and family folder. She also has a folder for newsletters or weekend reading and one for emails she may want to share. She only keeps 12 months of email in her inbox. “I’ve become much more ruthless about deleting,” Koch says.

Elizabeth Bowman, a productivity consultant who heads Innovatively Organized, has a “phone calls” folder for calls that need to be made, an “in office” folder for messages with tasks to complete at her desk, an “end of day” folder for bigger tasks and a “read later” folder for articles or newsletters that aren’t time sensitive.

Regardless of what folder system you use, maintenance is critical. Instead of constantly scanning and reacting to email arriving, process messages in batches. Then when it’s time to deal, fully commit yourself to processing new messages. Thomas says allot 10 “focused” minutes to clear your inbox and 25 minutes on Friday.

When creating folders, expert say keep it simple and purge those you don’t use anymore.

“If you create 40 file folders, you have to scroll to find the right one and you may end up leaving the message in your inbox,” Thomas says. Of course, there are filters, flags and all sorts of other tools available in the various programs to presort and mark emails BEFORE they land in your Inbox.

Thomas says your goal should be to leave work on Fridays with less than one screen full of emails. It’s still January, but I’m off to a good start — for now, my unruly inbox has been tamed.

By: Cindy Krischer Goodman the CEO of BalanceGal, a provider of news and advice on work-life balance. Visit http://www.workinglifebalancingact.com or email her at balancegal@gmail.com.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/10/v-fullstory/2583311/ways-to-combat-inbox-overload.html#storylink=cpy

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Ease Holiday Stress, boost work life balance

Holiday stress
Like most of you, I’m trying to stay merry. I still have holiday cards and packages to mail. Next week, my kids will be off school, I will still have shopping to so and I’ll be finishing up year-end articles. But I will NOT become stressed. I will try to slowly sip hot chocolate, listen to the cheery deck-the-halls music on store speakers and enjoy the fa-la-la of the season.

For those of you like me, trying to rise above the chaos, I decided to offer up some tips in my Miami Herald column for finding that work life balance over the next few weeks. I called on some experts to pitch in with ideas. If you have more to add, feel free to chime in.

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/worklifebalancingact/#ixzz1gdmTKlus

The Miami Herald

Tips to control holiday season stress

Last weekend, I maneuvered my cart through Home Depot searching for a holiday gift for my brother. On one aisle, a shopper screeched at the store assistant, irate over customers blocking her path. On another, a woman grabbed at an extension cord as I put it in my cart. I pondered over how I could have made the disastrous decision to visit this store on a Saturday during the chaotic holiday season.The experience made me think about the advice shared by MyCorporation CEO Deborah Sweeney

Think Teamwork: “Usually people in the holiday spirit are willing to pick up some slack for others who need an hour or two here or there,” she says. “Sometimes people want to attend their child’s holiday party or show, or just get a couple hours of less busy shopping time in.”

She has found co-workers are willing to take on a few extra calls to give each other a longer lunch. “It can be a win-win because it comes full circle when you need that extra time yourself.”

Priortize invitations: Holiday parties be ideal for meeting new people, making potential work contacts and reuniting with previous co-workers, particularly if you spent most of the year focused inward. But overdoing it can zap your energy — fast.

You are going to need to make some decisions. Erbi Blanco-True participates in numerous community groups in addition to her job as director of community development for Great Florida Bank in Miami. That means loads of invitations to holiday cocktail parties. In the past, Blanco-True would dash from one event to the next each night, trying not to disappoint the host. On the weekends, she found herself too exhausted to get her holiday shopping done. This year, she has limited herself to one party a night. “I’ve realized that so many people go to the events that unless you are key to the organization, if you don’t go it’s not a big deal.”

Modify shopping habits: Many of us run ourselves ragged coming up with presents for people we don’t care that much about. Even more, we get upset when we don’t get the reaction we had expected when we give a gift. If you want to find some balance during the holidays, buy or make presents only for the people you really care about, and the heck with sending out 1,000 cards or mailing gifts to relatives you rarely speak with during the year.

This year, you might consider tracking your shopping and receipts in one place, either in a notepad or using some of the new tech devices. By making use of lightweight scanners and mobile apps you can automatically collect your online shopping receipts so you don’t lose track of your spending or the record of what you bought. An additional bonus is that keeping electronic receipts could save you time when tax time rolls around.

Look for short cuts: Hundreds of new time saving apps are popping up to help manage holiday-related stress. One such app is GrubHub, which makes it easier to leave work, hit the mall and then order dinner from a local restaurant and pick it up or have it delivered. Another useful app is Shop Savvy Barcode Scanner, which cuts out driving from store to store to find bargains. The app allows you to scan an item and see where the better deals are in other stores. It also goes a step further and gives you a map showing you exactly how to get there.

Leticia Barr, founder of TechSavvyMama.com, says a couple of key devices that she added to her home office make a big difference this time of year. First, a good printer is crucial. “You can use it to make a last-minute greeting card or a gift tag.” She also recommends a business card scanner, which will come in handy when you return from a holiday networker. For example, CardScan by Dymo allows you to scan both sides of the business cards at the same time and drag and drop, import and manage contacts.

Learn to unplug: All around me, people are planning their holiday time off or gearing up to use the last of their vacation days. We all know it’s increasingly challenging to take a real break from the office. If you are committed to enjoying time off before the new year, Yahoo! Web Life Expert Heather Cabot advises taking some deliberate steps with email.

First, craft a clever out of office message for your email account with specifics about when you should be contacted. Next, suspend your social media alerts and e-newsletters. Most importantly, think before you send email, particularly the day before you take off on vacation. (For every email you send, you can expect double the responses in return). Lastly, unsubscribe from email you opted to receive but don’t read.

Posted by Cindy Goodman at 02:54 PM in Job StressWork Life tipsWork/Life Balance

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/worklifebalancingact/#ixzz1gdljuTXb

How to reinvent yourself, again and again

It can be scary to face the end of 2011 thinking about what direction to go in with our career. We want a job. We want work life balance. But we’re a little unsure or afraid about taking a leap in a new direction.

What you may not realize is that today, more workers are discovering that taking a new direction might just be the first step in a series of career changes. Today, a few years into this economic downturn, career reinvention isn’t just about finding a new path. It’s about trying a path, and then trying another.

One example is Mario Dubovoy. He has been through a series of reinventions, bringing him to his latest career — Internet entrepreneur. These days, he works the phones and surfs the Web on the hunt for companies that want to post their discounts and promotions on his website and mobile app, Couponmat.com. His new occupation represents his third career shift in the last five years. “I have had to assess the situation and adapt to circumstances.”

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His advice for you: Try something, and learn from it: . “From everything you do, you learn something. I try not to make the same mistakes.”

Career expert Katharine Brooks says: “If you can plan out the next five to 10 years, that’s great. But bright people wander in the job process and that’s a good strategy sometimes.”

Some people make initial career transitions out of necessity rather than choice. But that doesn’t mean you are stuck.

When South Florida real estate appraiser George Campbell, 43, saw the bottom drop out of the market, he realized he needed a new career with stability. Campbell opted for a low-pressure occupation — bridge tender. It paid a salary and had benefits. But after two years opening and closing a bridge in Lake Worth, Campbell was bored. “I realized I was too young to do this forever,” he said.

When the receptionist left at his wife’s hair salon, Campbell began contemplating taking the job and expanding the responsibilities. “I looked at what I could make the job into,” he said. Since then, Campbell has become the salon manager at The Spot Salon for Hair in Palm Beach Gardens. He has launched an email marketing campaign for the salon, created a Facebook page, taken over the payroll and accounting tasks and he books appointments. “I’m finding it very enjoyable,” he said.

Reinvention expert, Peter Fogel said people often are eager to jump into a profession that looks exciting or different and fail to look at where it’s headed. “You have to look at where the industry is going to be in next five years,” Fogel, a comedian who reinvented himself as a copy writer, speaker and author of Reboot Your Career. “Get beyond the sizzle and learn what is at stake.” He says information is just a mouse click away. He also advises talking to people in the career you want to pursue.

Also, consider easing into a new career and figure out how to parlay it into something bigger. That’s what Jean Newell did.

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Newell, 64, had sold homes in Broward County for 35 years. A few years ago, while showing homes, she found herself constantly looking for her mobile device, calling her cellphone to track it down. Finding other agents had the same problem, she created a business tool belt for professionals, the beginning of her new career as an inventor.

Newell successfully self–marketed her product to gift catalogs, retail chains and even to QVC. As sales picked up, the housing market collapsed and after 35 years as a real estate agent, Newell made the scary transition to become a full-time entrepreneur, founder of Newell Enterprises. She used that to springboard into another career — reinvention consultant. She authored Turn Your Pink Slip into a Red Hot Business and recently was hired by NASA to advise its aerospace engineers in Florida on a career transition into entrepreneurship.

Her advice: “Don’t spend a lot of money to make a career transition. Get creative; solve a problem.

Click here to read my Miami Herald article on making career transitions.

Here are a few more tips for reinventing yourself:

  • Ask yourself: What gives you energy? How might you apply that to a new career?
  • Have you ever been so lost in an activity you lost track of time? What were you doing? Think about ways that you could apply those skills/interests in other settings.
  • Describe your transferable skills to fit the language of other fields. For example, a professor might reframe lecturing as public speaking.
  • Ask others what they feel are your strong points and in what careers they feel you would do well.
  • Make the move from image to action. It’s easy to get caught in thinking about what you might do. Are you networking and reaching out to people in your new field of interest?
  • Keep a learner’s mindset: Constantly seek new information and think about what you’ve learned. This mindset will serve you well in the transition. Strive to be interested in and curious about what you might find. The antithesis of this is the judging mindset, the one that says ‘this won’t work.’
  • Learn to develop an appreciative eye for the opportunities you find.
  • Look for opportunities that take little or no funding to get started.

My very big mom mistake – and what it taught me

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Last week, I had one of those multi-tasking implosions that left me with tremendous mommy guilt. I was reporting a story, helping my son with homework and getting dinner together before I had to leave to go to my 5th grader’s Open House at school. I had been looking forward to the night, particularly because my son has two teachers this year and they seem to have very different styles.

I was plugging along, mindful of the time when I got a call my car was done at the repair shop and I needed to come get it before the shop closed. With my husband out of town, I raced over with the loaner, picked my car up, dropped my son at his team practice and managed to get to the school with 10 minutes to spare. I was so proud of myself!

What I didn’t realize was that I had calendared the event for a half hour later than the accurate start time. When I entered my son’s class, the Open House had just ended. The teachers were rushing off to their kids’ classrooms at the same school for their open houses.

I felt tears stinging my eyes. I’ve never missed a child’s Open House before and I had moved mountains to get to the school. When I arrived home, my son repeatedly asked me about what his teachers’ had said, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I missed the whole presentation. I mumbled something incomprehensible. The incident upset me so much I had a horrible night sleep.

The next morning, I was interviewing a high powered female lawyer about how she manages the juggling act. She reminded me about an event we were at together where Suzy Welch spoke about her book, 10-10-10. Suzy evaluates every major decision for how it will affect her life in ten minutes, ten months and ten years. She has found the answers are illuminating. This lawyer told me she now uses the same approach.

So I asked myself, will missing this event make a difference in 10 minutes? Maybe. My son might be a little upset. Will it make a difference in 10 months? Not really. I can ask the teachers for a conference and ask other parents to fill me in on what I missed. Will it make a difference in 10 years? Definitely not.

Mommy guilt can be crushing if we let it. Sometimes, the work life balancing act takes perspective. I think I found mine.

Thanks Suzy Welch!

How working parents use technology to monitor, communicate with kids

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As a working mom, I love texting. Today, my daughter sent me a text letting me know she was attending a club meeting after school. I forwarded the text to my son so he would know to wait for his sister.

If I’m out interviewing someone for a story, I can text my kids from the road to make sure they are where they need to be. But I’m certainly not as tech savvy as some of the other working moms out there who are using all kinds of devices and apps to keep up with their kids.

With school starting up again, here are some of the ways working parents are using technology to know who their kids are with, what they’re saying about their school day and whether they are safe.

  • Monica Vila of TheOnlineMom.com creates video messages for her teen daughter to watch on the family computer when she arrives home. “I might say, check Aunt Judy’s Facebook, she left a really funny post. Then I’ll blow a kiss. It’s simple and it’s a different quality communication than a text message.”
  • Myriad new smartphone apps are rolling out that use location-based technology. For example, the new app I’m OK, in the iTunes store, is kind of a private Foursquare for parents to ensure that their children are safe “without the nagging.” Family members check in from the library or Starbucks and let Mom or Dad know what they’re doing and that they are OK — then it rewards the child for doing so. They can even upload photos of the book they checked out.
  • Some parents use technology to keep their kids on task — even from their workplace. From her law office, Eden Rose, a legal administrator at Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs, uses her iPhone to access the iCam on her 10-year-old daughter’s laptop. “It helps me know she actually is studying when she says she is.”
  • There’s always that fine line between monitoring and snooping, but safety remains a big concern for working parents. Honeywell saw the uses for video beyond the typical monitoring for an intruder, marketing it as “the perfect system for the working family.” The home security system, called Total Connect 2.0, is set up to take a short 10-second video of your child disarming the alarm and entering your home. It then sends the clip as an email. Honeywell also has created a smartphone App that will send the video to your cellphone
  • Parents also are using Global Positioning System tracking devices on kids’ cellphones and in their cars. Sprint is just one of the wireless carriers that offer the Family Locator service, it shows the phone’s GPS position on an interactive map. The service is password-protected so only authorized parents  or guardians can locate their kids.
  • A creative variation on GPS, aWareAbouts iPhone app, uses the location features of the phone and a system of mutually agreed upon check-in times. When a check-in time comes, the app alerts your child on his phone that he needs to check in with you. The child has the option of calling and talking to you or sending a message that includes his coordinates.
  • Beyond monitoring whereabouts, working parents are going online at work to check their kids’ grades, now posted in online grade books in most counties. And they’re looking over homework and giving feedback through document-sharing sites such as Google Docs.
  • Working mother, Wendy Brown, has regular afternoon Skype sessions with her 13-year-old daughter, who logs on from a laptop the minute she arrives home from school.

Readers, is there some cool tech device or App you’re using to keep up with kids?

Get home sooner

I had a job once where people lingered rather than made an exit. It wasn’t necessarily that we had to stay late, it was more than no one wanted to be the first to leave. We would clack away at our keyboards until our boss finally would pack up and head out.

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When it comes to work life balance, stepping out at the end of the day often means navigating career making or breaking office politics. The art of the exit isn’t always easy to master.

In summer time, a quick and easy exit from the office seems even more necessary when daylight extends longer and it’s still possible to take an after dinner stroll.

A few years ago, I wrote a column called The Art of the Exit. This month’s Working Mother Magazine said only 44 percent of moms get out of the office on time. It featured some great tips from organizer Laura Stack. I combined pooled ideas from both articles to bring you some suggestions for exit strategies:

1. Do a daily 2 p.m. check in. Look at your to-do list and figure out what still needs to get done. If you wait until 5 p.m. you will end up staying later.

2. Say no to last minute requests. If your co-worker or supervisor waits until 6 p.m. to make a request, let them know it will get it done the next day. Train them to respect your schedule.

3. Block off the last half hour. That’s the time for preparing for your exit by picking up what you printed out, cleaning off your desk, making a to-do list for the next day or grabbing you Tupperware from the fridge.

4. Make a date. Put something fun on your calendar after work hours and give it importance. Treat it like an impending deadline.

5. Check in with your boss – briefly. Give him a quick update or at least wave on your way out. Trying to slip out unnoticed often backfires. You may need to assert yourself politely and firmly as you say goodbye to let your boss know you have commitments outside the office.

Readers, do you struggle with leaving the office at the end of the work day? Do you get caught up in the urge to check email one last time or make a phone that lasts longer than you expect? Why is a clean exit so darn hard for most of us?

7 Tips for Stress-Free Vacations

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I love family vacations. They are a must for work life balance. But I dislike the preparation and the return. I’m usually so crazed trying to get ready for take off that by the time my family gets on the plane, I’m exhausted. Then on the return, I pout wishing my vacation could last forever.

With the right preparation though, you can maximize the benefits of your time off before, during and after your vacation. Recently, More Magazine included some of my suggestions for a stress-free vacation in an article.

I thought I would share some tips from the article along with a few more I came up with to help you make the most of your vacation.

1. Take your vacation. Your work life and home life will improve it you get away for a little bit.

2. Limit work time. If you feel use must check in, limit it to once a day. That may require adjustments on your smartphone to prevent email alerts all day long.

3. Sign up for international service. If you’re going abroad, look into global data plans ahead of time along with prepaid international phone cards.

4. Prepare for emergencies. Instead of telling people to call you on your cell, give out your hotel information to one person in your office or your most important customers. Have them call you only in case of emergencies.

5. Give yourself time to ease back in. You might want to return a day or two before you have to go to work to take care of personal stuff before the chaos of work resumes.

6. Avoid overload. Try not to schedule meetings for your first three days back.

7. Check your attitude. Have something to look forward to when you return — it may be a new project or a co-worker who makes you laugh.

Readers, if you have any tips, please share. We all want our get-aways to be a stress-free as possible.

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/worklifebalancingact/2011/07/7-tips-for-stress-free-vacations.html#ixzz1SC7jST2n