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Fitting Fitness into your Summer Schedule

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(Micaela Stavrinos works out on June 20. She is taking advantage of the longer daylight hours over the summer to attend an outdoor bootcamp. PATRICK FARRELL pfarrell@miamiherald.com)

 

 

All around me in sunny South Florida, I see people in shorts, bathing suits and tank tops. Summer is here and that means more of our bodies are exposed. For me, that's enough incentive to make an extra effort to exercise. Besides, summer brings more daylight hours to get out there and move our bodies. 

So where to begin? How do you motivate yourself and squeeze fitness into your busy life?

Fit it in your work day. Almost every day, Sergio Perez walks to the supermarket from his Miami office to grab lunch, trekking about a mile each way. While the heat can be intense in summer months, Perez, who works 50 to 60 hours a week in financial services, says the routine is the easiest way to squeeze fitness into his work life balance.

Do something you enjoy. Do you like bike riding? How about swimming? Find something you like to do and you will find yourself more motivated. It doesn't need to be grueling.  “It’s not about who works out the hardest or longest. It’s just about do something, most days of the week,” says Chira Cassel, co-founder and director of The Sacred Space Miami, a wellness center in Wynwood.

Do something small every day.  “A lot of women have life responsibilities and run into scheduling problems that make exercising more difficult,” says Tony Musto, director of fitness programs at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “But all it really takes is moderate activity five days a week.
 
Make it convenient. The more convenient your exercise plan, the better chance your routine will stick. Micaela Stavrinos, an administrative assistant at the executive office of University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, used to go to a gym that took an hour to get to with traffic. Because of the hassle, she stopped exercising. Now, instead of heading home from work, Stavrinos uses the longer daylight hours of summer to go to a boot camp at a gym less than a mile from her downtown Miami office and home. Within a half-hour after leaving her office, she has shed work clothes for gym clothes and is running to the nearby stop sign with others in her fitness class. “There are days when I don’t want to go, but it’s close by and I push myself,” Stavrinos says.
 

Be consistent.  Consistency is key to reaching health and fitness goals. Countless studies show that having someone or something keep you accountable for completing a workout will increase your adherence, and your results. Even during summer, life or work easily can get in the way of our quest for the perfect beach body. Using a wearable fitness tracker like a Fitbit, a fitness app or personal trainer, or even meeting a buddy to exercise can increase your chance of sticking to a fitness plan. It’s really about whatever motivates you and keeps you consistent.

Make it social. I love meeting my friends at exercise class. It motivates me to first show up and then to give it my best. You can combine fitness with family time, too. Talk a walk or a swim with your kids at night. Another idea is to use summer to make your get-togethers active, says Chira Cassel of The Sacred Space Miami. Instead of a business lunch, have a walking or workout meeting. Instead of joining a friend dinner, take a yoga class together in the park: “It’s a nice change of pace to get people out of their comfort zone, and less sitting is better for the body.”

Do it in your workplace or with work buddies.  Some workplaces make exercise convenient and a bonding activity, particularly during summer when the work pace slows. At Kip Hunter Marketing in Fort Lauderdale, the account executives engage in friendly exercise competition using Fitbits and compare their steps weekly. At MBAF, an accounting firm, employees in the Coral Gables office go from their desks to bootcamp in the conference room on Monday nights. Attendance is up in summer. “We all encourage each other to go. It’s fun and easy,” says MBAF Marketing Director Wolfgang Pinther.

Mix it up. Varying your workout routine, and scheduling exercise on your calendar gives you a better chance of follow-through, says Raeah Braunschweiger, a health fitness specialist with the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center in downtown Miami. She suggests trying new trends like barre fitness or belly-dancing: “Find something you find fun. People get stuck in a rut and then start to question why they are doing this.”
 
If you want to read more about Fitness After 40 or Fitting Fitness into Your Work Life Balance, I wrote two additional articles in the last week. 
 
Have a fit summer!

The Work/Life Balancing Act

5 ways to fit mentorship into your work life balance

When I saw a TV interview with Lydia Muniz from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, something she said repulsed me. She told interviewer Helen Ferre that Miami is dead last out of 51 metro areas when it comes to its volunteer rate. Dead last.

Growing up in South Florida, I'm the first to admit that we tend to be self absorbed in the Sunshine State. We also consider ourselves very busy people with little time or money to donate to help others. 

I get it, people are busy. We work long hours.  We carry our smartphones on us all the time and can't get away from work calls and email. We have wives. We have kids. We have hobbies we want to pursue. Mentoring a child just doesn't seem like it should be something we sacrifice our free time to do.

But here's an interesting tidbit: 

A study by Wharton’s Cassie Mogilner, published in the Harvard Business Review, found spending time helping others left participants feeling as if they have more time, not less. Mogilner’s research shows that spending as few as 10 minutes helping others can make people not only feel less time-constrained but also feel capable, confident and useful.

If that's not motivation here's another tidbit:

Children who are mentored maintain better attitudes toward schools and are less likely to use drugs or start drinking, according to Mentoring.org, a nonprofit charged with expanding youth mentoring relationships.

With that as our motivation, we should be able to figure out how to mentor a child without it taking too much of our time. January is National Mentoring Month so this happens to be a great time to consider it. 
 
Natalie and Kriss 4.2015 II
(Natalie Parker, on left, mentors Kriss Reyes, right, in her workplace, The DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Miami)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here are some ways to fit mentoring into your schedule:
 
1. Have the children come to you. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a School to Work program that will bring students to your workplace once a month for four hours. The only requirement is that you have at least 10 volunteers.
 
2. Find a school near your office and pop in during your lunch hour or before work. Many schools encourage this type of mentoring as long as you are cleared by the county as a volunteer. 
 
3. Mentor as a couple or family. Forming a relationship with an at-risk youth can be easy when you include him or her in what you already are doing such as going to the beach, a football game or the park.
 
4. Mentor by phone. Some college students ( and high school seniors) are desperate for career advice. Young professional organization often are able to pair you with these type of students who are at risk for giving up. One of two phone calls and support as needed can set a young person on the right path.
 
5. Mentor occasionally by speaking on career day or at an afterschool club meeting. Schools are desperate to find speakers who are good role models. Organizations like Women of Tomorrow and Girl Power Rocks can facilitate this type of mentorship.
 
 I hope you will join me in making a difference in a young person's life!
 

SOME YOUTH MENTORING ORGANIZATIONS

▪ Stand Up for Kids (standupforkids.org)

▪ Big Brothers Big Sisters (bbbsmiami.org)

▪ Girl Power Rocks (girlpowerrocks.org)

▪ Honey Shine Mentoring Program (honeyshine.org)

▪ Women of Tomorrow (womenoftomorrow.org)

▪ Take Stock in Children (takestockinchildren.org)

 

Read more on this topic in today's Miami Herald.

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Turning part-time work into full-time work

Getting hired

A friend of mine wanted a part time job during the day while her kids were in school. But when her husband had surgery, and it became apparent he would be out of work for a while, she realized she needed full time work.

She went to her boss to talk it over. Because she had proved herself a good worker, she was able to convince her boss to give her more hours and a schedule that would be managable. It's amazing how workplaces are willing to accommodate someone who proves themself a good worker.

Still, it's not always as easy as asking. I saw this great article: 7 steps for turning part-time work into full-time jobs. I just had to share it with you. It was written by John Alston is a career advisor and coach at The Innis Company. Here's a quick summary of the steps.

1. Specialize: When applying for part-time or contract work, concentrate on fields where your skills and experience will distinguish you as valuable.

2. Differentiate: Whatever your field of expertise, find how you can impact either the top line or the bottom line.

3. Inquire: Ask up front if you can apply for full-time openings that arise during your part-time employment. If you are signing a contract for part-time work, request that it include the potential to be hired full-time. (This is key to getting hired full time!)

4. Commit: Act as if you already are a full-time employee and people might begin to see you as an important part of the team.

5. Out-perform: Aim to out-perform full-time employees who are doing the same or similar jobs as you. 

6. Fit in: Be positive and upbeat. Don't go around the workplace thinking of yourself as “only a contractor.”

7. Reach out: Meet as many key people in the organization as you can. Build an internal network that can help you solve problems and that gets you visibility with decision makers. 

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Fitting personal branding into your work life balance

Whether you work for an organization or for yourself, you are a brand. If you haven't fit time for personal branding into your work life balance, you're going to want to make time — as soon as possible. 

Today, in my Miami Herald Business Monday article, I spoke with a variety of experts who offered up lots of advice for how to go about creating, building and sustaining a brand. See below:

 

Steve stock
(above: steve stock, president of Guy Harvey Inc, a strong South Florida brand)

Just weeks ago, in Midtown Manhattan, about a dozen bright colored exotic cars emblazed with “It’s So Miami” were lined up at a makeshift taxi stand. As New Yorkers and tourists snaked for miles in line for a free ride in a red Maserati or yellow Lamborghini, they were given Cuban coffee and coconut juice to sip on. The event, a media hit, was organized by Turkel Brands in a strategic move to brand Miami as a hip town with unique cultural contrasts that New York doesn’t offer.

It was simply the latest effort by the Miami agency that has spent the last two decades solidifying the brand Miami as a culturally interesting and exciting town.

But along with branding Miami, Turkel has created buzz for himself as a branding genius, publishing a blog, speaking at events and writing books about how to create a brand identity or make an existing one more valuable. “In the last few weeks, I have had offers to sit on boards. They said they want to have my brand associated with their organization. I’ve never heard that before. That says to me, in the real world, things are changing.”

Today, whether you are an individual or business, an employee or an owner, developing a strong brand is imperative. The marketplace of products, services and content is like a crowded New York City street and your prospective buyer is deflecting thousands of messages competing for a person’s attention.

Destinations like Miami know this. Businessmen like Bruce Turkel know this. They have pushed through the crowd to gain awareness for what makes them special. They are branded, much like the cross-trainer you wear with the distinctive swoosh on the side. And now, you and the business you work for must be branded, too.

Here’s why: Half of employers say they are more likely to hire candidates that invested time in developing a strong online brand, according to Personnel Today. A strong corporate brand image can increase a company’s stock price by an average of 7 percent, according to a Yankelovich study. And, 85 percent of buyers go online to research purchases. At some point, you and your business category will be Googled and your digital brand will sell your unique strengths and distinguish you from the pack.

But branding yourself or your business can be trickier than you might think. Experts say you need to define your audience, find a niche without making it too narrow, and come across as authentic. “Your brand has to be about your audience and what is relevant to them,” Turkel says.

BRUCE TURKEL’S SEVEN POINTS THAT BUILD YOUR BRAND

1. It’s all about them. People care most about things that affect them. In order to reach them, you need to communicate in a way that informs them “what’s in it for me?

2. Hearts then minds. People make decisions based on emotions and justify their decisions with facts. To get someone to pay attention, you must get them emotionally involved.

3. Make it simple. Today’s world is a busy, confusing place. To make an impression and an impact, your message must be succinct and digestible.

4. Make it quick. Things happen so fast these days that if you take your time, no one will wait around for you to explain your entire message

5. Make it yours. A message is truly powerful only if it is associated with you or your product. Make sure that the message you’re presenting belongs only to you

6. All five senses. Conversations involve all the human senses. To communicate effectively, be sure that you’re engaging as many of your audiences’ senses as possible.

7. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Conversations involve all the human senses. To communicate effectively, be sure that you’re engaging as many of your audiences’ senses as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Get noticed while you sleep: fitting self promotion into your work life balance

Shameless Self Promotion is easier than you think


(Share Ross, who toured with the Rock Bank Vixen, now creates videos for dozens of small business owners and teaches them how to do it for themselves)

 

Not long ago, I was attending a conference when the speaker talked about all the ways she was creating buzz about her personal brand while she was sleeping or playing with her kids. It got my attention because as a harried working mom, I'm willing to buy into self promotion but I don't have tons of time to spend doing it.

Today, efficient self-promotion is a critical component of success in any career.

“You need to be top of mind,” says Michelle Villalobos, a Miami personal branding expert and founder of the Women’s Success Summit. “If you’re not shamelessly self-promoting, there are plenty of others who are.”

By now, most of us realize we need to create and market our personal brand to be a rock star in our fields, whether we work for an employer or ourselves. Our success depends not just on our individual capabilities but also on our network’s ability to magnify them.

With the venues for self-promotion exploding, the challenge becomes fitting it effectively into our work/life balance. In addressing a few hundred business owners at the recent Women’s Success Summit in Miami, experts shared their secrets for how to build a network that does your bragging for you. It’s time-consuming to promote yourself using every platform available. Experts advise choosing one and using it well.

•  Make a video. Share Ross, a bassist who played with the ’80s all-female rock band, Vixen, strongly advocates using video. After touring with Vixen, Ross began making videos for musical acts. Now she creates videos for dozens of small business owners and teaches them how to do it for themselves through her Video Rock Star University.

“Video is a way to make an emotional connection. Doing it right is not about selling, it’s about tapping into that connection,” she advises. Because YouTube is the second-highest used search engine, ignoring it as an outlet to raise your profile is foolish, she says. A good video doesn’t have to be complicated or awkward, she says. Start out on camera by raising a question and answering it in a way that positions you as an expert, she says.

Making a video doesn’t have to take long, and it can be done at night using a smartphone camera, after the kids are asleep.

•  Publish a book. Dawnna St. Louis, a South Florida motivational speaker on women’s empowerment, says to build a business, you need to build your credibility. Publishing a book will help. “It puts you in position of being an authority long after do the work of writing it,” she explains.

She published her first book, YOLO — Standing on the Ledge of Life and Leaping Towards Your Future, launched without any shameless self-promotion, and she sold only 2,000 copies. The next time around she took a different approach. “Create the demand first,” she says. In her case, she reached out to corporate clients, who pre-ordered the book before its release. That book, Audacious Acts of Successful Women, which encourages women to step out of their comfort zone to become more successful, has sold more than 22,000 copies. And she’s still receiving orders.

She believes almost anyone can position themselves as a expert with a book by identifying a problem and writing about how to fix it. To publish a book efficiently, she advises outsourcing pieces of the process by hiring a copy editor, ghost writer or cover artist. She suggests tackling one chapter a day, setting aside an hour a day for writing.

•  Work the media. Eli Davidson, a business coach and author of Funky to Fabulous, says it is possible to leverage the media to promote yourself; to start, find a “diamond” niche. She recently coached a client who was a nutritionist and suggested he refocus to become an expert on nutrition for newly diagnosed diabetics.

Urgency is a big part of finding a good niche, she says. “He doubled his rate and filled his practice. People can die from diabetes. It’s urgent.” If you have a niche that’s solving a problem, it’s easier to get media attention, she says. For example, the nutritionist since has published articles in diabetic magazines and cooking publications. “When you’re in the media, it never goes away.”

•  Start a blog. If you want your network to keep you top of mind, a blog can do that. If it has the right key words, it can send new customers your way when they search for topics.

A blog is a great “home base” and you can set one up in about 15 minutes, says Jay Berkowitz, author of The Ten Golden Rules of Online Marketing . “Blogs are the simplest websites that you can manage and update without a webmaster.” He suggests blogging to answer questions you get asked by customers, clients or co-workers.

Of course, blogging can be time consuming. However, there are people who will take on the task for you. Lisa Sparks, owner of Verity Content in Miami, launched a business that develops content for others. Sparks suggests quality over quantity and says blog posts can be leveraged further by getting them into article directories such as ezinearticles.com.

•  Become searchable. Take the time to find out how people are searching for the products or services you offer, says Todd Paton of Paton Internet Marketing in Miami. He suggests using Google Keyword Tool to identify popular keywords, then using them on your website. Or you could buy the domain name where potential customers would most likely land.

Villalobos says to become Googlicious, the most important key word you need to own is your own name. And make sure everything associated with your name tells the right story about your professional accomplishments.

This doesn’t have to be time consuming. “The fastest way is to claim your name on all the social media profiles you can and fill it in with good information,” she says. “Start with Linked In.”

•  Use email marketing. Pamela Starr, Southeastern area director for Constant Contact, believes shameless self-promotion starts with leveraging your existing network. Starr recommends sending up an email marketing newsletter and letting your network know what you are doing to improve their lives — saving them money, helping them eat healthier, offering them unique legal expertise.

To widen your network most efficiently, embed a sign-up for your email marketing pieces right into your email signature. Also, ask recipients to share with their friends. “What’s the best source for new business? Existing customers,” Starr says. “Promote to them and have them promote you to others.”

When shamelessly self- promoting, Villalobos says don’t be intimidated to plug your brand with the people who know you. “They are the low-hanging fruit.” But don’t stop there, she says. “Once you have a strong brand, it will speak for you.”

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Are we packing too much into our days?

Earlier this week I attended a funeral for a friend's mother. It was the first time in a long time that I shut my phone off for about four, almost five hours, during the work day. I felt  that if I took a peek at my phone during the mass or graveside ceremony it would be disrespectful. The odd part was how nice it felt to give myself permission to focus on just one thing.

I made the hour commute to the church with a friend who had taken the entire day off work to go to the funeral. My friend, a working mom, had run a few errands before picking me up and spent the commute home with me plotting her late afternoon errands — taking kids to the dentist, picking up a mother's day gift, mailing a package. I spoke to her later that night and she had accomplished it all. Yet, she was absolutely exhausted.

Have we gone too far in driving ourselves to get more done? Are we trying to pack too much into our days? As a nation, we've become obsessed with productivity. Our to-dos lists are growing and our calendars are overflowing. 

So, how do we slow down?

The answer is insanely obvious…we simply be present in life.

Some days, something as simple as having a cup of coffee becomes a juggling act of replying to emails and surfing the web. Give yourself permission to do less and think more. 

What if you don't get to the 10 things on your to-do list? What if you just got to the one that made the most impact on your life for that one day?

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how to come up with a great idea. It was filled with great suggestions but the one that made the most sense is Be Present in Life. If you're not busy running around trying to pack more into your day and you just slow down, you might find a great idea is right under your nose. 

If we really want better work life balance, we are going to need to trade super-productiveness for sanity. That's hard to remember some days. But after decades of trying to be super mom, I'm finally focusing on sanity.

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Teens plan to rely on parents: Fitting money lessons into your work life balance

Money

 

Have you ever been so busy and distracted that your teen asks you for money and you hand over a few bucks just to get them out of your hair?

I'm 100 percent guilty of this.

But that's about to change. I just saw a statistic that startled me: Nearly 60 percent of teens said they don't expect to be ready to financially support themselves by age 24 — a far cry from the same survey by Junior Achievement two years ago, when 75 percent of teens felt the same.

Am I one of those parents who hasn't been making enough time to teach my kids to be financially responsible? Are you?

 

"Parents continue to be the No.1 influence on teens when it comes to money, so helping their teens set financial goals and take steps to meet them should pay off financially for both teens and their parents," said Don Civgin, president and chief executive officer of Allstate Financial.

AOL poses this question: Whose job is it to teach kids how to manage money — teachers or parents?

 
For a while now, I've been on a rampage, arguing that high schools should require a mandatory class on personal finance. It may be the most important skill a teen learns and I can't understand why schools aren't teaching it. But the reality is, they aren't teaching it and even if they did, it likely will take both teachers and parents to put budgeting and managing money on our teens radars. 
 
April is financial literacy month and it is a good time for you and me to make time for money lessons. 
Here are the five financial lessons experts suggest we take the time to teach our teens before they head off into the world on their own. 

 

 

1. Credit. Teens need to know what it is, what responsibilities come with it, and how credit can increase cash flow but has to be paid back … with interest. (click here for more on how to teach your children about credit)

2. Credit Score. You will need to explain what it is and how the car you drive, the house you live in and the job  you have can all be affected by your credit score

3.  Loans. Explain good versus bad credit by pointing out important entries that have helped you establish a financial identity, such as your  mortgage or car loan.

4. Spending habits. Your kids “are going to be learning by watching you,”  says Sarah, founder of RaisingCEOKids.com and co-author of “The Parents’ Guide to Raising CEO Kids. Use teachable moments to explain why you make certain spending decisions and the consequences of your spending mistakes.

5. Savings. Now that your child is a teenager, you will want to show them how to open a savings account. While your teen may be enthused about earning money from work, you also have to teach him or her not to spend it all, an important lesson in financial management. This will take a bank visit together. You will need to consider fees and requirements, location of the bank, and amount of interest paid on a savings account.

 

I often hear parents say it's  hard to choose between financial security and a decent work life balance. If we teach our kids good money management at an early age, I'm hoping some of those choices we parents confront will be less of an issue for our kids in the future.   

Readers, do you think parents are taking enough time to teach our kids about personal finance? If not, do you think the schools should step in and do it?

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Turning remote workers into team players

When I was toiling away at my computer in the newsroom, working from home sounded sooo glamorous. It sounded like the answer to all my work life balance needs. No commute. No office politics. But what I didn't realize is that when you're part of a team or staff, being miles away from co-workers can be a HUGE challenge. Of course, a good manager can make your challenge easier and help remote workers feel like team members. 

I think the remote workforce is about to explode in numbers. Two savvy women — Layne Mayer and Mari Anne Snow —  feel the same way and they are creating a website/social networking community for remote workers and the companies that employ them. It's in early stages now but it's called Sophaya.com. I checked it out and I think it has promise.

Here's my article from The Miami Herald that tackles the topic of managing a remote workforce.

 

 

Remote employees require care to feel like part of the team

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN
  Ken Condren, VP of technology at C3/CustomerContactChannels, video conferences from his office with a co-worker to show how virtual employees keep in touch.
(Ken Condren, VP of technology at C3/CustomerContactChannels, video conferences from his office with a co-worker to show how virtual employees keep in touch.
Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald Staff)

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

balancegal@gmail.com

Working from home, hundreds of miles away from your boss, may sound like a perk, but that’s not always the case.

Ken Condren remembers the moment when he experienced the frustration his remote employees face. He was working from home, participating in a conference call and heard a side conversation going on, but had no idea what was being said. “I felt so out of the loop,” Condren recalls.

Today, businesses want the talent they want – and are more willing to hire or retain someone to fill a job even if they live or move thousands of miles away. Yet even with a great number of employees working remotely, nobody wants to be that guy who doesn’t get the inside joke during a conference call.

When the success of a team depends on the people, and all the people are scattered, it’s the manager who must make sure relationships stay vital and productivity high. Getting the most out of remote workers takes a manager who knows how to motivate and communicate from a distance. “Virtual workers still need a personal connection,” says strategic business futurist Joyce Goia, president of The Herman Group. “They want camaraderie and to feel like they are part of a team.”

More managers are using technologies such as videoconferencing, instant messenger and other collaborative software to help make remote workers feel like they are “there” in the office. Not being able to speak face-to-face can quickly be solved with Skype, Face Time or simple VoIP systems.

Condren, vice president of technology at C3/CustomerContactChannels in Plantation, uses Microsoft Lync to connect virtually with a team spread across geographies and time zones. Employees see a green light on their screen when a colleague is available, signaling it’s a good time to video chat or instant message. Instead of meeting in physical conference rooms, team members get together in a virtual work room where they can hold side conversations during conference calls or meet in advance to prepare for the call. “You lose the visibility of waving hands during an in person meeting, but we can build that with virtual workspaces.”

Beyond that, Condren says he holds weekly video conference calls with his staff to help his remote workers become better team players. He also sets aside 45 minutes to an hour each week to check in with his remote workers. “It’s a little extra effort to make sure they are giving me the updates that happen casually in the office.”

Condren says adapting to a virtual workforce has allowed him to hire talent in any geographic market with the skill set he wants. And he has been able to hire them at competitive salaries.

In the current economy, such flexibility can be critical for a company looking to attract top talent. CareerBuilder’s Jennifer Grasz says the recession has created a less transient workforce, making it difficult for workers to sell their homes and relocate. “Employers are turning to remote work opportunities to navigate the skills deficit.”

Even from a distance, managers say there are ways to hone in on remote workers who are having problems. Billie Williamson managed virtual teams as a partner for Ernst & Young and would focus on the tone of someone’s voice during a group conference call. She would even listen for silences. “Silence can mean consent, or it can mean the person you’re not hearing disagrees or is disengaged.” If she sensed a team member was lacking engagement, she would follow up immediately.

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

When does workplace stress turn into burnout?

All of us have workplace stress of some sort — maybe we're dealing with a demanding boss or a mounting pile of paperwork. And then there's technology, making it more difficult to disconnect.

But there's that line when crossed turns stress into distress.

Today, one of the most respected medical professionals in the country weighs in on stress and provides some insight on how he recommends his patients better cope with it.

Readers, I hope you find this helpful and if you have ways of coping with stress that work for you, please share!

 

Work/Life Balancing Act

Tips for managing workplace stress

 

  
 

Many of us struggle with stress, but some cross over into the danger zone. The telltale sign: a near or complete lack of work-life balance.

 

  

  

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Stress at a glance

• Health problems linked to stress include heart attack, obesity, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.

• Common traits of burnout are excessive devotion to work and productivity at the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships; inability to delegate tasks.

• Symptoms of burnout: chronic fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, failure to take time off, headaches and explosions of anger.

• Almost a third of all workers feel “extremely stressed” at work. About 14 percent of workers felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but didn’t.

Sources: The American Institute of Stress; Charles Nemeroff, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

 

      

                                              

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

cindykgoodman@gmail.com

  

            There are end of the year deals to close, budgets to meet, gifts to buy, and just thinking about it has your stress level rising. But when does stress turn into distress and at what point should your employer intervene?

For American workers, coping with workplace stress is a year-round concern that employers are beginning to see as partly their responsibility. Three-fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage it, an Attitudes in the American workplace study by the American Institute of Stress shows.

Most of us harried workers struggle with the daily pressure of time demands, but some cross over into the danger zone. The telltale sign that a breakdown is near is a complete lack of work-life balance.      

“Often these are the people working 14 hours a day and expecting others to do it, too,” said Charles Nemeroff, chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “I’ll ask them when is the last time you had fun and they look at me like are you kidding?”

Service professionals such as lawyers, financial advisors, accountants and doctors particularly are susceptible with increased client demands and technology making it more difficult to shut off job stress. Often they push themselves harder and harder to achieve.

Attorney Harley Tropin, a shareholder at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, just doesn’t see that formula leading to a long career. He wants to help his lawyers strive for balance and change the way their brains and bodies react to stressors. Last month, he brought in medical experts to help them identify stressors and learn coping skills such as breathing and meditation. “It’s important to deal with stress the right way, to make a conscious effort to do something about it and not assume it will take care of itself,” Tropin says.

Tropin personally defuses the stress of arguing in court, by practicing Mindful Meditation, a widely adopted form of meditation that has become increasingly popular with business leaders. It involves focusing on your mind on the present and becoming aware of your breathing.

Alan Gold, a federal judge for the Southern District of Florida, also practices mindfulness meditation and has become a proponent of teaching practices for stress reduction to attorneys. Gold has advocated for the creation of a task force on the mindful practice of law with the Dade County Bar Association and the local Federal Bar Association.

Gold says he regularly sees attorneys shuffle into his courtroom on the brink of a breakdown. He links erosion in the degree of civility in the profession with lawyers’ inability to cope with extreme stresses.

They may lash out in anger at a co-worker, assistant, client — or even a judge.

“If you recognize you’re in this situation, the next step is to get out of it. The quickest and simplest way is to slow down and take time to focus on your breathing. This is not something that comes naturally for lawyers. It’s counterproductive to their bottom line way of doing business,” he says.

Outside of meditation, some employers are turning to on-site yoga, or just simply workload management to help employees better manage stress. At Kane & Company, a South Florida CPA firm, employees recently learned from a psychologist how to become more effective controlling their job-related stress. Suggestions included breathing exercises, exercise in general and focusing on relaxation techniques. Monte Kane, the firm’s managing director, says the workshops help his staff with everyday stress, but he makes it his responsibility to know when they have entered the burnout zone.

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The Work/Life Balancing Act