The Balanced Living Journal

Practical information for busy women from Women's Success Coach Catherine Bruns. Visit me also at

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Busy Woman's Productivity Plan

When I was in California last week I got to spend some time with fabulous friends and one of those was my pal Elizabeth. Aren't we cute, having dinner together?

Elizabeth has a big job as an executive at a company in San Diego and since she got this job about 4 years ago she has talked about struggling with the relentless demands of the responsibilities and how to manage everything in a work day. She stayed late at work, took calls on the weekend and always felt like important things were falling through the cracks.

Receiving hundreds of emails a day, managing programs that are inherently difficult in themselves, and fitting in to a new organization were her biggest challenges.

So, I was tickled when Elizabeth told me that she now feels like she has a pretty good handle on her work life and can most often easily be home by 6pm on a normal day.

Of course I was curious about how she went from harried, overworked executive to one who feels relaxed about her big job. She made 3 changes -
  1. She got a Blackberry. Voluminous emails were Elizabeth's nightmare and she is often on the road at meetings up and down the Southern California coast. She found that if she used the 10 minutes here and 5 minutes there in between meetings or waiting for things to get started to check and respond to her emails that she could keep a much better grip on them. She then found that when she returned to her office she didn't have a giant cyber-pile waiting for her. Lesson: used well, technology can be our friend!
  2. She began to say no to lesser priorities. Nobody needs to be on all committees, or respond to all requests for opinions, ideas, etc. Elizabeth found that if she said no to those requests that were not directly related to her duties and programs she was much more able to focus on successfully managing those priorities that really mattered. Lesson: saying no can be a very good thing.
  3. She dumped multitaksing. Elizabeth found that if she focuses strictly on what's in front of her, whether it be a person, an email, a proposal, or a meeting, without splitting attention to an additional task, that she moves through tasks and projects more completely and quickly. Lesson: multitasking is a LIE.
It took Elizabeth a while to figure out these strategies, which may or may not work for you. Every busy woman needs strategies to manage the volume of paper, email, and tasks coming at her each day, but they need to fit you, your style and your job.

What are some of the strategies that you use to keep on top of your busy world? Leave a comment so we can learn from you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Based on Results....

I just returned from a wild week of networking and training at the International BNI conference in Long Beach. Whew!

I had the pleasure of being trained for several hours during the week by Dr. Ivan Misner himself - the founder of BNI, author of many books, and named guru of networking.

While I learned much at the conference a few things really stuck out for me. One is the phrase 'Based on results, how's that working for you?' A little Ivan Misner, a little Dr. Phil - and a powerful question to help evaluate the direction that your actions are taking you.

The definition of crazy is: doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Don't we do that though? Do the same thing over and over and wonder why we're not getting what we want?

Use this question - Based on results, how's that working for you? - to help reorient your course. Take a look around your life - your business, your relationships, your health, your happiness - and evaluate whether or not you like the results you're seeing in that area.

If you're not satisfied with the results, then your only course is to back up and change the actions that have gotten you here in the first place.
  • You don't like your weight? Take a look at how you're managing food and exercise.
  • You're not happy in your relationship? Take a look at what you could be doing differently.
  • You're not making enough money? Take a look at what you're doing that stops the flow.
Good news and bad news, right? The good news is you're in charge. The bad news is, you're in charge.

Based on results, how's that working for you? I'm going to be asking that question of myself and my clients a lot.

Ask it of yourself now, and leave a comment on how you're going to create some different results in your life.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What's the Greatest Challenge in Balancing Your Life?

First - balance means, feeling like all parts of your life work to support you being your best self.

I'd love to know what your single greatest challenge is, so take a moment and answer my question. I'll be sure to let you know what I find out.

What is the greatest challenge that you experience in balancing your life?

E-Mail Address:

Your Name:

I so appreciate your help in learning more about what is between busy women and their feeling of joyful satisfaction. Stay tuned for next month's question....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy in Your Relationship?

I've been seeing a lot of couples in my counseling practice lately. I am always so glad when a couple comes through my door looking for help, because there are so many couples and families out there who are really struggling in the world.

Unfortunately many people tend to wait until there is some kind of crisis before they get help. And, really sad are the couples who come to me to end their relationship - when counseling or some type of assistance could have helped years ago.

I'm here to tell you that if there is trouble in your life or relationship, seek help now - don't wait until there is so much damage that repair is not an option.

How do you know to get help in your relationship? Here's what to look for:
  • there is any type of abuse - emotional, physical, etc
  • you are unhappy with your partner
  • you are fighting dirty - name calling, throwing objects, blaming each other
  • your sex life has changed
  • you or your partner has become distant
  • you feel like a roommate instead of an intimate partner
  • you have just had children and are adjusting to the change
  • there has been a shift in roles, such as one of you has become a stay at home parent
  • you have relocated
  • you are experiencing financial difficulties
  • you feel more grumpy or irritable with your partner than happy to be around him or her
Maya Angelou, wise woman of our times, says:

"If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good Morning' at total strangers."

If you are treating those outside your home better than you are those inside, that's a sure sign to get help.

In most states, you have several options to get some great counseling. Here's the kind of professionals you can choose:
  • Clinical Psychologist - has a Ph.D, which means that they have trained for generally about 4-6 years to provide counseling and other helping services.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist - MFT - has a Masters degree and is trained specifically in the area of helping couples and families, though this profession can do more than that.
  • Social Worker - LCSW, QCSW, DCSW - has a Masters degree, and can focus in their training in multiple areas such as, community, medical, or clinical.
  • Licensed Counselor - has a Masters degree and has been trained to provide counseling in a general way.
  • Psychiatrist - MD, provides medication assessment and management and may sometimes provide counseling as well.
All the above professions may be licensed in your state, which means that the individual has taken at the very least a written test and has been supervised for a number of hours.

The best way for you to find a referral to a good counseling professional is to ask a trusted friend, family member or doctor. If you know someone who is happy with their counseling professional, that is a great endorsement. If you call a counseling professional and they cannot see you, for whatever reasons, ask that person for referral names.

What's important in choosing the right professional for you is how comfortable and confident you feel with that professional. Does that person understand you? Do feel like you are improving? Do you feel like you can ask questions and reject the counselor's ideas?

If you took your car to a mechanic's shop and it was not fixed well, then you would simply find another shop and keep going until the problem was fixed.

The same goes for fixing your relationship. If your first, or even second, experience with a counseling professional is not what you had hoped - keep trying until you find one that works.

I currently work with a couple who tried 3 other marriage counselors before they came to me. They say the other professionals were fine, they just weren't the right fit for them.

If you think you need help, then you do. Find the help, be happy in your relationship and in your life. You deserve it, and so does your partner.

Monday, October 23, 2006

How Oprah and I are the Same

Oprah Winfrey and I have some serious similarities. And, some glaringly obvious differences.

It's the similarities that I love - and who wants to be exactly like someone else anyway - even Oprah?

Aside from the fact that we both live in the same town (I understand that Oprah just bought a home in my little town of Kailua, Hawaii), we both also have a best friend. (Addition: I just found out today, boo hoo, that the paper misreported the info and Oprah's not my neighbor.)

Oprah has Gayle, and I have Marian.

Oprah has said that her nightly phone calls with Gayle King have been how she has grown and evolved to such a high personal level in her life without therapy. Though I've had my share of therapy (a good thing as far as I'm concerned), my 20+ year best friendship with Marian has played a huge factor in my growth into the woman I am today.

I think, aside from your healthy intimate partnership, a best friend relationship is the most important connection you can have in life.

I think a best friend:
  • loves you completely and unconditionally and accepts who you truly are - regardless of how different she is from you
  • tells you the truth (yes, your butt looks huge in those pants!) in a kind compassionate way
  • considers you family
  • would do absolutely nothing in the world to hurt or harm you
  • cheers your successes and mourns your losses
  • keeps your personal secrets and is unwavering in trustworthiness
  • brings a smile to your face when you think of her
  • can work out difficulties in your relationship when they come up
  • can laugh with you in that silly, snorting, pee your pants kinda way
  • will show up for you whenever you need her
A best friend doesn't sleep with your husband, gossip behind your back, take and never give, or show up only when she has something to gain.

A shocking number of women do not have best friends - or a group of women friends for that matter. To me this is a shame.

Our growth as women depends on relationship. How else do we get to see ourselves? A best friend is our mirror - we see ourselves reflected back in her.

I became best friends with Marian when we were in graduate school. She had pink hair and I smoked. We've changed a lot since then, for the better I might add, and our relationship has had a lot to do with our personal growth.

If you don't already, I want you to have a stunning best friend. I want you to see in her eyes how wonderful you are and the few places that you could do some polishing.

Look around. If you don't have a fab best friend right now, who in your world are you attracted to? Who feels like a woman that you want to hang out with at the coffee house, or go to the kids playground with, or trade stories with? Pick a woman who has qualities you admire - some may be like you and some may be ones you aspire to.

Finding a best friend has some chemistry to it - a vibe, an energy of knowing that you somehow know this person already. So when you choose, don't neglect to try on how this person feels.

I'd love to hear your best friend stories. Post a comment below and let us know how a best friend has impacted your life.

And, Oprah -- I'm looking forward to meeting you on the beach someday!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What if You Had Unlimited Time and Money?

What would your life be life if you had unlimited time and money? I'm asking you!

I'd love to hear your answer, so put on your dreaming hat and jump on over and answer my question of the month.

I'll be sure and let you know what I find out!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Podcasting for the Technically Challenged

Have you listened to Coaching A Go Go, my podcast with my fabuloso coaching co-host Nancy Marmolojo?

Nancy and I started our little 'ol podcast about a year ago and it never would have gotten off the ground without Nancy's drive to make it so!

And now, she's offering a Podcasting Class for those of you who don't want to get into all the techie mumbo jumbo, but want to get your own booming voice on the cyber-waves.

It's easy, and Nancy will show you how. All you need is some free software, a basic service and a mic or a phone. Voila! You're podcasting.

It starts tomorrow - October 5, so jump on over to Nancy's site and get all the info.

This is a not to miss opportunity from Nancy -- an easy way to get your message, ideas, and opinions out to the world!

Go check it out now!