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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Busting clutter

Clutter is rampant in South Florida. That's what I have learned as a result of The Miami Herald's Balance Makeover that ran in the newspaper today. I am flooded with comments from people who could relate to the plight of Pamela Fero, an air traffic controller and mother of six whose home overflows with clutter. Professional organizer Diane Hatcher showed Fero some ways to get started clearing to restore better balance to her disorganized life.
April Bolet of Miami says she can relate to Pamela She writes: "My clutter, has or does have a profound impact on my outlook every day. I know what I need to do and I just have to sit down and do it.''
Michelle Raghunandan has begun tackling her clutter. She writes: Your article brought my problem once again to the forefront. How refreshing to see I am not the only one to suffer with the clutter issue. I am overwhelmed after taking care of making it through daily survival task. This year (so far) I started to take on the task of spending at least 15 minutes every night (when homework permits at least) going through the many, many, many piles of mail.
I organized the piles of schoolwork, forms to sign and notices to read into a filing system Diane Hatcher shared with me. Let me tell you, busting clutter is worth the effort. I'm on my way to better balance. I plan to check in on Pamela in a few weeks and track her progress.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Breadwinner guilt

Loved the blog post on This question is posed: You're a successful working mom with happy, healthy kids, a solid relationship with your partner, and a booming career. Do you feel guilty if you happen to have a fatter paycheck than your hubby?
Dr. Gail Saltz on The Today Show said some women resent being the breadwinner. My thoughts: some men do too.
I have interviewed lots of breadwinner moms in recent years. I'm not sure how being a breadwinner plays out in their marriage, but I think these women will outright attribute their success at work to their husband's support. As long a your husband is supportive, what's to feel guilty about?

Online at work for personal use

This weekend, my husband and I got into a big debate about using your computer for personal activities while at work. I've shopped online from my desk, I confessed. Once I get home, I really don't have time to get on my computer, unless its late at night. I think its OK to do, especially when I have spent so many evenings doing work-related activities on my personal time.
My husband, who is in management at his company, disagrees. Strongly. He feels no one should use their computer for personal activities during the work day. He gets most huffy about hourly workers. He feels they should stay later to make up the time if they use their computer to shop online, send personal e-mails, get on gaming sites, etc. during the workday.
Maybe its more about moderation. Opinions please!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Considering a career change?

Considering a career change? Jill Rapperport was overseeing a group of Latin America business magazines at Ziff-Davis Publishing. But with all the meetings, conference calls, sales appointments, long hours and travel, there was no time for her daughter or herself. "I was aging rapidly," she says. Now she's teaching adults and children to better manage stress through yoga. Rapperport, president of Soaring Eagle Yoga, has these tips for realizing career and life dreams:

  • Take some quiet time to connect with yourself. Listen to what really excites you, thrills you, or nags at you.
  • Build a support structure around you to help with making your dream or career change happen.
  • Get clear on your vision. It may be that you change your role in your current career.
  • Create action steps to make the change happen.

Companies advancing women

Catalyst, an organization focused on women's issues, announced its awards yesterday recognizing business initiatives that advance women. I like the fact that Catalyst not only looks at the initiatives but judges whether they get results. We all are way too familiar with initiatives that go nowhere. Congrats to those who have done it right!
* Goldman Sachs' Senior Women's Initiative significantly increased the number of women managing directors and partners: among the successes, globally, the number of women partners has doubled from 2001 to 2006.
* PepsiCo's Women of Color Multicultural Alliance focuses on attracting, retaining, and developing women of color in the middle and senior management ranks at PepsiCo. Key findings include that, from 2002-2006, the number of women of color at the senior management/director/VP level has increased; representation for women of color on the board of directors has doubled.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers' Unique People Experience was created to reduce turnover and make staff more productive. A major element was going to a more team-based approach where groups of partners and staff serve a portfolio of clients. The initiative paid off: among the results, women's representation at the partner level has increased 30 percent from 2001 to 2006.
* Scotiabank found a strong business case to support the creation of its Advancement of Women Initiative. The bank devised a strategy to help develop more women for senior positions. They also came up with programs to help women network and give them visibility to senior leaders. Through these initiatives, Scotiabank has significantly improved senior women's representation at the bank: the number of women at all senior levels - from vice president and above - nearly doubled from 2003 to 2006.
"This is about business strategy," said Julie Nugent, a chair of Catalyst's award committee. Over time, diversity and advancing women has helped these organizations be successful."
The awards will be presented March 21 in New York. For more information go to

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Women as breadwinners?

I'm fascinated by the statistic that The Today Show presented this morning in its discussion of women breadwinners. Meredith Viera told viewers one in three women outearn their husbands. By 2025, the prediction is that 50 percent will outearn their husbands. That's huge! Viera asks, "As long as bills paid who cares who earns more?''
I bet a lot of men care. My husband would care. Relationship expert Gail Saltz says it can wreak havoc in a relationship when couples equate money with power and masculinity. She says the men best suited for this type of relationship are those that possess lots of self confidence. To make the relationship work, she says, couples need good communication.
If the statistics hold true, I wonder this: Do 50 percent of men have lots of self confidence? Do 50 percent of couples have great communication? It's going to be interesting to see how this trend plays out. To see a clip of the segment click here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Scheduling a "day in"

Between working as a mom and a journalist, my struggle is how to get to the mundane things, those unfinished chores that create chaos in my life. This weekend, I took the advice of Diane Hatcher of Time-Savers Professional Organizing Services( I scheduled a "day in" for myself.
I spent Sunday catching up on laundry, cleaning my garage, weeding my garden, and figuring out my meal menu for the week. I never left my home and it felt great.
"You don't have time to get organized if you are never home,'' Hatcher says. "You have control over that."
We also have control over priorities. This is where some of us go wrong, Hatcher says. Most people assume that "prioritize" means doing the most important things first. But Hatcher says it is more about determining what you need to do, have to do and want to do each day.
So, I made the mundane chores a priority this weekend. I wanted and needed to clean my garage, the room I enter and exit my home through each day. Now, it's my gateway to a more organized existence.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Year of the Man

After some research, I have concluded, this is the Year of the Man! I asserted this in my Jan. 17 column in the Miami Herald. As a male, you may fear that asking to work from home one day a week will derail your career. You may fear that telling your boss you need to cut back on travel will cost your job. But I am convinced changes, big or small, will happen in 2007. These changes should ease the way for men to talk about their work/life needs. Don't forget, balance is not about working less. It also can be about working differently.
Jeff Opdyke, who authors a weekly syndicated column called Love & Money, is one of my favorite writers. I really enjoyed his article on his near divorce and how he refocused his work and home life. Click here to read it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lessons from a life coach

This is the year to go for it, says Pat Morgan, the Miami life coach pictured above. Morgan told about 100 women gathered at the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday just how to do that. Pat says follow these three steps and you will accomplish more in your work and personal life.
* Focus on a goal. She recommends asking yourself, "What would I do if I knew I could not fail?" (Make a career change, land a promotion, learn a new language?) You need to visualize a target, she says.
*Get prepared. Figure out what you need to do to take the first step. The second will be easier, she says.
*Take action. Do something to make your vision a reality. She challenged all of us to write down our vision immediately. Now, I'm challenging you.
You may want to check out Pat's website,

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cut to the Chase

Want to know how to cut your work day short? Come in half an hour early and stay focused all day, says Stuart Levine, author of Cut to the Chase. Levine also says start your day with the end in mind, know what you want to accomplish. I tried this tip today and it worked. His book is packed with great tips. Here are some I found useful:
* Define your top priority for the day - the one that you would sacrifice all others to achieve.
* Get organized before you do anything else.
* As soon as you understand what someone is explaining, tell them, "I got it." If they keep rattling on say, "I've got the point. Let's move on."
* Learn how to predict how long things take. As you review your to-do list, make a note about how much time you think each task will take. When you complete the task, note how long it actually took.
*Master the art of the 10-minute meeting.
* Don't confuse activity with accomplishment. Keep track of what works.

Monday, January 15, 2007

We're procrastinating more

I would have written this post earlier but the kids are home from school today and I was procrastinating. Lucky for me, I'm not alone. Procrastination in society is getting worse, a new study shows. The good news is that scientists have figured out why we are procrastinating -- too many diversions (which also explains our struggle for balance in our lives).
The bad news: procrastination makes people poorer, fatter and unhappier. Something has to be done about it, declares University of Calgary professor Piers Steel. (Click here for the full study results) The professor thinks as a society we're too far gone: "You can reduce it but I don't think you can eliminate it," he says. Steel says it is harder to wean chronic procrastinators from their habit than alcoholics. Of course, not all of us are chronic procrastinators. But I dare you to find someone who hasn't procrastinated about something during the last week. Let me know if you find someone. You don't have to do it right away.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Work: the extreme sport!

For many, work is the ultimate extreme sport, according to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CEO of the Center for Work-Life Policy. People who hold these jobs travel the globe, work around the clock or regularly rack up a 70-hour work week. In the December issue of the Harvard Business Review, Hewlett says 1.7 million Americans hold extreme jobs. They are all over the economy. Hewlett says they are prompted by a convergence of technology and Type A personalities.
This is the price tag or personal cost: Nearly 60 percent of extreme workers believe that their career undermines their relationship with their children. And, 50 percent say their work interferes with their sex life.
Hewlett says few women hold extreme jobs because they can't pony up the 70-hour workweeks.
"How long can we sustain this souped-up version of the American dream?'' Hewlett asks. "Our research captures the allure of these jobs, many of which are to die for. But extreme jobs come with extreme risk to individuals and corporations."
For more information on Hewlett's organization and research, visit

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Latest trends in resolutions

Last January, I asked some busy professionals for their New Year's resolutions for achieving better work/life balance. Most of them told me they wanted to get better at delegating. Mastering the art of delegation can be tricky. I wrote a column in The Miami Herald with suggestions from experts on how best to do it.
Checking back on the professionals over the last week, I learned most succeeded in delegating more responsibility at home or work, or both. Most say there was a initial learning curve, but all seem to have reclaimed some personal time. I resolved to gain better control over my time in 2006. A Daytimer really helped me see how much I was putting on my calendar. In 2007, I'm going to be more cautious about over committing.
In 2007, the trend in resolutions appears to be a focus on personal health and fitness. There's a new awakening that even those people who don't have time to exercise need to consider eating better and getting check ups. If you have any suggestions to help busy people improve their health, please share.

Nancy Pelosi opts in

Excellent piece today by Ellen Goodman! She wrote a fabulous column on Nancy Pelosi. Goodman notes that Pelosi, a stay-at-home mother of five, was 47 when she got onto the fast track. Her youngest was in college. Pelosi says she was always involved in a campaign, but when she won the Speaker of the House of Representatives position, she was 66.
Goodman believes Pelosi may change the way people think about "opting out" and "opting in", terms used to describe leaving work for family reasons and returning after a break to relaunch a career.
I love this paragraph: "I'm not saying that Nancy Pelosi is Everywoman's role model unless Everywoman can live on four hours of sleep and a diet of chocolate. But she's a reminder to women that life is longer than you expect and 47 is younger than you think. She's a reminder to companies and the country that we have a lot to gain from welcoming parents into the second act."
To read the entire column, click here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is flex-time for real?

A press releases landed in my inbox that makes this declaration: 2007 will be the year of the flexible workplace. This is the prediction made by SelectMinds, a Corporate Social Networking company. Anne Berkowitch, CEO of SelectMinds, says, “The mid-career professional with a growing family, the pre-retiree juggling caregiving responsibilities and the retiree looking for a partial paycheck all have one thing in common: a strong desire to work when, how and where they want. Over the next few years, companies of all sizes will face a strong talent squeeze. Flexibility is the ‘X-Factor’ that CEOs will need to succeed in this environment.” To learn more about SelectMinds predictions,
I think companies have made progress in understanding the desire for flexibility, but I wonder how many employers really are committed to making changes. I'm skeptical that 2007 will be the year of the flexible workplace. I hope to be proved wrong!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The year of the dad

I predict this will be the year of the dad. It has been slow in coming but I believe this year we will see more attention paid to the work/life balance struggles of working fathers and spouses. Already, I see surveys being conducted on the topic, academics studying trends and websites popping up. I hear talk in corporate offices and I see more fathers writing first person articles about their experiences. With more mothers in the workforce, more single and divorced dads and more men marrying later who want to spend time with their new wives, it only makes sense that men are feeling the pull of work and their personal lives.
Today in my Miami Herald column, I highlighted a few books that offer good tips on balancing work and a personal life. For men and women, I recommend Three-Ring Circus. I loved the first-person short stories on topics so many of us confront but rarely talk about. Let me know what you think of the books I have chosen.