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Strategies for Balancing Home Issues with Work

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                   SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office


It is quite a challenge to balance home issues with work 
responsibilities. Today's article offers some advice to help 
you learn how to balance home and work without feeling over-


P.S. You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the 
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- Intel announced implementation of restructuring 
plans that would result in saving in costs and 
operating expenses... 

- General Motors Corp. has increased the power 
train warranty on all of its 2007 passenger 
vehicles to five years and 100,000 miles...

- Sybase is grabbing messaging service provider 
Mobile 365 for about $425 million in cash...

- Federated Department Stores Inc. will promote 
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biggest-ever advertising campaign beginning this 

- Gradison and its parent company will be sold to 
UBS Financial Services Inc...

- Tom Freston is ousted as chief executive of
Viacom Inc...

- Hewlett-Packard under scrutiny over its handling 
of a dispute that has led to accusations of illicit 
leaks to the press and illegal access by the 
company to its own directors' personal phone 

- Ford Motor Co. appoints a new chief executive 
this week...

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Strategies for Balancing Home Issues With Work 
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal. 

Since Hurricane Katrina all but destroyed his 
parents' New Orleans home last year, Atlanta 
financial adviser Mike Davila has spent countless 
hours helping them relocate to his home city. But 
he holds a very demanding full-time job, and needs 
to stay focused on that too.

It is a huge challenge to focus on work when some-
thing major happens in your personal life. Even 
under normal circumstances, employees struggle to 
balance personal and work responsibilities. When 
personal demands skyrocket, that delicate balance 
can collapse, whether the cause is happy -- such 
as planning a wedding or preparing for the birth 
of a child -- or not, such as a family illness.

At times, focusing on work can feel nearly 
impossible. Some strategies can help. Three of the 
most important: Planning, organizing and compart-
mentalizing, say career advisers. The more you 
plan and organize your daily tasks, the more 
quickly you will be able to accomplish them. You 
may be more efficient if you segment your day into 
times when you are solely focused on work and 
solely focused on the personal issue. Letting one 
intrude on the other can slow you down and muddle 
your head.

In addition to being organized and scheduled, it 
is important to find a way to release your emotions 
so they don't distract you all day at work, says 
Barbara LaRock, a career coach in Reston, Va. 
Writing regularly in a journal is one strategy. 
Another is finding a support group outside of work, 
whether a formal one, or friends and family members. 
She suggests having one trusted colleague on the 
job who you can talk to when the personal crisis 
flares up during work. But, Ms. LaRock stresses, 
this is only a good idea if you can trust the work 
colleague not to gossip about you.

If you think the personal issue may affect your 
job, or require time to take care of things, talk 
with your boss so he knows what is going on, Ms. 
LaRock advises. Make sure to develop a plan for 
how you will handle your job duties without let-
ting the personal issue interfere, and share that 
with your boss to reassure him.

Mr. Davila had to ratchet up his organizational 
skills. In the past year, he has spent about 25% 
of his typical work day helping his elderly 
parents. They evacuated to Texas right before the 
storm hit. The ensuing flood destroyed about 70% 
of their home, Mr. Davila estimates. His sister 
also lives in New Orleans, and had to deal with 
rebuilding her own heavily damaged home after the 
flood. Responsibility for their parents fell 
primarily to Mr. Davila.

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His tasks included helping them sell what remained 
of their home, finding them new housing in Atlanta, 
and helping them secure a loan for the new home. 
On top of that, they aren't familiar with Atlanta, 
so they called him often for help with basic 
living questions, such as driving directions.

At the same time, his clients depend on him and he 
didn't want to let them down. His solution: Hyper-
organization. At the end of each day, he wrote 
down a detailed plan for what he needed to get 
done at work the next day. At home at night, he 
mapped out the telephone calls he needed to make 
for his parents. He created a spreadsheet of all 
the people he contacted for his parents, including 
their names, phone numbers, and status reports. 
He also carved out more time at night for work he 
couldn't get done during the day because he was 
dealing with his parents' issues.

"My production didn't fall off but the stress was 
incredibly high," he says. "You've got to be super 
organized." Today, his parents' relocation is 
nearly finalized; with his help, they are about to 
close on a home in Atlanta, Mr. Davila says.

Beth Woodworth, a counselor at a small nonprofit 
that provides outplacement counseling and human-
resource services in northern California, found 
that designating times as work-only and personal-
only helped her stay focused on the job while 
planning her wedding nine years ago. Since the 
wedding took place in New Jersey and she lived in 
California, her mom on the East Coast did a lot 
of the legwork. The two needed to consult often 
about plans.

For about a month and a half at the beginning of 
the planning process, Ms. Woodworth got calls from 
her mom throughout the workday. Not only was it 
distracting, but it would prompt co-workers to stop 
by for wedding chit-chat afterwards. Ms. Woodworth 
didn't want to be rude and not talk with them, but 
it took even more time out of her workday.

So she arranged with her mom to talk only at a 
preset time during Ms. Woodworth's lunch break, 
usually about three days a week. They set an 
agenda for each conversation to keep the discuss-
ions focused and efficient. Ms. Woodworth also 
conducted the phone calls in her car, so that 
co-workers wouldn't overhear her. "I really need 
to focus on my job while I'm at my job," she says.


You should be able to state in just a few sentences how your 
business plans to make a substantial profit. For starters, 
you need to know your costs: how much you'll spend purchasing 
inventory, paying the rent, compensating any employees, and 
covering what is likely to be a surprisingly long list of 
other costs. Then you can figure out exactly how much you 
need to sell each month, for how many dollars, to cover 
those expenses and have an adequate profit besides. These 
numbers are all you need to create a "break-even analysis."

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a line and let 
me know at mailto:mandi@gophercentral.com 

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