Monday, October 29, 2007

Life Challenges Can Create Havoc With Your Business: Accessing And Protecting Data During A Crisis

How prepared are you for a crisis?

Unexpected life challenges occur in many categories:

  1. Fires
  2. Floods
  3. Earthquakes
  4. Burglary
  5. Accidents
  6. Illness
  7. Technology Failure
With the recent California fires and previous disasters throughout the world, it reminds me of just how vulnerable we are to environmental crises . These emergency circumstances not only affect our personal safety and our homes, but can also have devastating effects on our businesses.

One particular area of concern is loss of data for our business. Think of how it would be if you lost everything on your hard drive. Some of you may have already had this experience if your computer hard drive failed. If you did not have backup, you had a lot of pieces together to do of not only documents, but also contact information and perhaps an online calendar.

A few years ago I had the experience of my Outlook crashing due to too much data saved on the program. Something I didn't know about Outlook 2000 is that it has a limit of how much data it can hold. I had all my contacts, email, and calendar on Outlook without any backup. I felt paralyzed to do anything with my business. I was able to view current incoming mail on the web email available with my server, but could not view any past emails.

Fortunately, I was able to access the data with the help of their technical support team. I immediately went out to purchase a PDA so that I would be able to sync all my information from the computer to the handheld scheduling device. I also signed up with an online backup system so that all of my files would be backed up on a daily basis.

What about documents that you may have in hard copy or on your computer hard drive? Essential documents that you have only in hard copy should be scanned and saved. Having them only on your hard drive is not secure enough. You can have these available to you even if your computer crashes, is stolen, burned, flooded, etc. without even using a portable flash storage device that could also not be available.

Using Google Photo or one of the many photo storage sites, you can upload the digital files of your scanned documents for no cost. These can be accessed from any computer connected to the internet.

You can upload web pages, word, excel, power point, and text documents to Google Documents. You can set these so anyone can access and edit or keep them private. As a precautionary measure I've uploaded all of my web pages to the documents. There is also a feature that will update your document anytime you change something on your website. Pretty cool!
Photos are not shown on the pages, however. You'll need to save these separately to Google Photo.

I like using Google mail for most of my correspondence so that I have access to all my current and past email. There is no limit to their storage size and they have an easy search tool to find any mail you need for reference. Service has no charge and if seeing Google ads next to your email doesn't bother you, it is a good choice. I often forward mail from my Outlook email account to Gmail so I have it available for reference no matter what.

Finally, for financial records, Quick Books' online option is a great way to have access to all of this information no matter where you are. There is a charge for this after your initial trial period. It also makes it possible for a virtual assistant or bookkeeper to have access to do work for you.

Putting some thought into all the aspects of your business that would be affected in a crisis situation can save you lots of frustration and money. Time and money for some of these services put into these preparations is a great investment toward your Healthy Bottom Line.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Maintaining Professional Credibility While Balancing Family Responsibilities

"How in the world can I keep all these ever-increasing plates in the air?"
Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Running a business efficiently and giving your clients excellent service can be very demanding. Letting one of the plates fall can tarnish your reputation and it is difficult to restore your credibility.

Women in any profession, more than their male counterparts, have to prove themselves constantly to be successful. This is particularly true in the male-dominated financial services industry. Establishing credibility and keeping it strong is especially important for a woman's prosperous financial services practice.

Add to that the reality that women often have more life responsibilities than men. Not only are they focused on their business and clients, but women are also the ones who typically have the major responsibility for nurturing their household, the children, her parents and even her spouse's parents. And when the man in the house does take over a lot of the family needs, woman often feel stress about not being able to do more. Our society has instilled in all of us that women are the ones who are supposed to be nurturing the family.

Nevertheless, women are doing very well in the financial services industry, particularly with the growing number of women investors. Women want and deserve the same respect as men in this industry.

The financial power of women is considerable and is growing rapidly. In the United States, women control 51% of the private wealth. These women are looking for advisors they can trust and often turn to women.

But what happens when an unexpected life challenge comes along for you and there are even more demanding circumstances? Is it possible for you to maintain credibility as being reliably productive? How do you show your clients and business associates that you are still performing well?

  • It is important to be proactive in communicating often with clients to reassure them that you are attending to their investments. Don't wait until questions arise as to whether you are keeping up.
  • Also maintain dialogue with co-workers and management so that they know how you are doing. This will reassure them that even though you may have adjusted your office work hours, you are still handling your responsibilities as always. And, if you need their support, having that close connection will make it easier to ask them for what you need.
  • For your own focus, keep your business goals in mind. Be clear with yourself in establishing your short and long-term objectives.
  • Commit to following a daily plan, even with all the distractions going on, so that you know you are moving forward toward meeting those goals. Feeling that sense of accomplishment will help you maintain confidence and enthusiasm for your work even when other parts of your life may be discouraging.
  • Do what you can to keep yourself physically strong and emotionally sound. Take time to eat nourishing meals and exercise regularly. Get as much sleep as you can. Give yourself breaks so that you can catch your breath. Even a few minutes at a time throughout the day can help.
  • Connect with others who may be experiencing similar challenges. Just talking over the situation can be supportive. Somehow, knowing that you are not the only one who is walking this rocky path can help you get through the rough spots to smoother ground.

Yes, women, you do often get the bulk of the family caretaking on your shoulders. With some strong strategies for efficiency in your business and attention to your self-care, you can maintain that exuberant productivity and achieve that healthy bottom line - in all aspects of your life!

For a mini-break from the stress of your day, listening to a 4-minute beach getaway audio can bring you back into focus. Come visit me, your Exuberant Productivity Coach, on my website for this FRE*E audio, Exuberance Assessment and weekly articles. If you are already a subscriber to my newsletter, send me an email at and I'll send you a link to the audio and Exuberance Assessment.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Unexpected Life Challenges? Productive Virtual Operation Of Your Business

Have you thought about what you would do if you had unexpected life challenges that pulled you away from your office? Thinking about this ahead of time and developing a contingency plan can prevent the panic of needing to take quick action to relocate.

Possible problems:

* Aging parents needing your support
* A medical condition that prevents you from getting to your usual office space
* Adult children needing support with their children
* A spouse or child hospitalized at a distance from your home

Let's look at what is required to have an efficient virtual office.

Internet Connection

When you get to your remote location, you'll need to investigate possibilities for connection. What I found when I was in the Seattle Children's Hospital environment was a room for parents that had several connected computers and hookups for laptops. There was also a computer in their family resources room.

Many libraries now have both computers and laptop wireless connections. Internet cafes may also be available somewhere nearby.

For phone connection, it's great to have an inexpensive phone card set to go. I purchased one at a popular warehouse store and can then recharge it by phone as it runs out of minutes. With that information available, you are never without a long distance connection. Cell service is not always available.

Quiet environment

If you need to have phone calls with clients, you'll need to figure out a way to create a quiet environment. This can be a challenge because what seems like a quiet spot can get noisy. I did find conference rooms in both the hospital and in Ronald McDonald house where I was able to do client calls.

You may also be able to use someone else's office or rent an office space temporarily.

Portable filing system

Get a small accordion file folder that can fit into your briefcase where you can keep paper files that are essential for you to have to run your business. You can also store office files in the Google mail program. These can also be made available for colleagues for editing and sharing.

Online accounting program

Quickbooks has an online version that you can easily access from any computer enabling you to keep up on your accounting no matter where you are.

Online calendar and contacts

Having an online calendar and contacts makes it easy to keep up with all need information. Printing out the schedule is a good idea since you could be caught without internet connection at some point. I also use an online mail program so that I have all its functionality no matter where I connect to the internet.

Along with these supports for working remotely, having an assistant or coworker who can take care of tasks locally will be a great help for you to keep things running smoothly. This requires some proactive preparation so that systems are in place ready to be activated.

Just as with disaster preparedness, taking steps to be ready for an unexpected life challenge will help you feel empowered to deal with all the various aspects of your life even when they are difficult.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Teleforum: Are Unexpected Life Challenges Choking the Life Out Of Your Business?

Has your business progress been derailed by unexpected life challenges needing your attention?

Are you the "go-to" person not only in your business but also in your family? Where do you go when YOU need some support?

Suzanne Holman has designed a program to meet the specialized needs of boomer women in the financial services who have been successful in their businesses.

What is happening for many of these women is the reality of changes in family circumstances that are pulling their energies away from their business.

Has your business progress been derailed by family challenges needing your attention? Are you the “go-to” person not only in your business but also in your family?
Where do you go when YOU need some support?

What you’ll learn in this free class:

· Effects these changes in routine can have on you
· Strategies for restoring your energy and focus
· Methods to optimize your productivity to free up more time in your schedule
· Innovative marketing techniques that can be effective and less time consuming

Join us in a frank discussion of this topic in the convenience of your own home.

We'll meet on a telephone bridge line with your only expense being your normal long distance charge.

Choices for attending the teleforum are:

October 29, 2007 2 pm Eastern Time
October 29, 2007 8 pm Eastern Time

November 7, 2007 2 pm Eastern Time
November 7, 2007 8 pm Eastern Time

November 14, 2007 2 pm Eastern Time
November 14, 2007 8 pm Eastern Time

Register here:

My Blog In The News Again! - Updated GTD/Productivity Links List

I was totally blown away when I saw my blog listed so close to David Allen, the guru of all productivity!!

Here's the post:

04th Oct 2007

Organize IT

Advice On Organized and Productive Living Through Lifehacks and GTD

It’s been a while since I updated my list of GTD & productivity sites/blogs so today I will add some new sites for you to check out, update old URLs and move inactive sites so the list is up to date (this update brings the list to over 100 links). If you feel you have a site that primarily focuses on GTD and/or personal productivity and I haven’t included it on the list then please leave a comment and I will check it out.

Seeing as Priscilla Palmer’s personal development list was so popular and really boosted the community (especially for the smaller, less well known sites), if any of you want to post my GTD/productivity list on your sites that would be a good boost for our little productivity cult

The following are new sites and blogs on the list:

· 7P Productions
· Aim For Awesome
· David Allen @ Huffington Post
· Dumb Little Man

· Exuberant Productivity

· Goals Success
· Hack the Day
· Hacking Life
· John Place Online
· Life Coaches Blog
· Life Learning Today
· Life Reboot
· Monk At Work
· Open Loops
· Personal Development Blog
· Practical Personal Development
· Self Pursuit
· Shouting Match
· Simple Productivity Blog
· Productivity Zen
· The Executive Assistant’s Toolbox
· Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Work Week Blog
· Web Worker Daily
· Wise Bread

Updated GTD/Productivity Links List

Earlier I posted about being in's Personal Productivity Required Reading List: 100 Kick-butt Lifehacking Blogs

Lifehacking is all about finding ways to streamline and improve your life. These bloggers can help you do just that, offering clever tricks and tips for making your everyday life more effective. Here is some of the best ingenuity the Internet has to offer.

Check out my description, #84

Suzanne Holman writes about getting quality time, minimizing stress and avoiding perfectionism in order to achieve productivity.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Alzheimer's - Keeping Your Business On Track While Supporting Your Parent

by Suzanne Holman, MAEd

Do you or any of your friends have a parent with Alzheimer's? What I'm sharing in this article would have been helpful for me to read prior to experiencing the drastic shift in my mother's lifestyle last year. I never expected to have such an emotional roller coaster. It took some innovative strategies to keep my business on track.

Mom lives in a life care facility that has various levels of care. She was living in a garden home, completely independent other than interior and exterior maintenance and one meal a day at the communal dining room.

Keeping a schedule becomes impossible.

One of the first things I noticed was her confusion about what she had planned. I had a couple of her friends comment that she was not showing up at arranged times they had planned for dinner. Mom has kept a calendar for years where she writes anything that is planned and notes about what has happened. She's always been on time for any appointment, even early. For her to miss appointments was not a good sign.

When I was going to pick her up for one of her medical appointments, she would get confused as to what day we would be going and leave me numerous messages asking why I hadn't arrived. This would also occur on the actual day of the appointment. She would be confused as to what time of day it was so would call me wondering when I would be there.

Anxiety builds with the confusion.

I tried to solve this problem by calling with just enough time for her to get ready for an appointment. We didn't talk about what day the appointment would be. This would make her anxious also because she wanted to know in advance when she would be going somewhere.

For a long time she knew she was confused and was upset by that. She liked to be in control of what she was doing. This definitely felt like lack of control and loss of her independence. By her own decision, she had already given up driving. We never found out why, but suspect she had a close call that scared her and didn't want to be in an accident.

Self-care deteriorates.

When I started seeing a sink full of dirty dishes and clothing stacking up on her clothes rack, I could see that her habits had certainly changed. She has always kept an immaculate kitchen and took good care of her clothing.

She stopped going to the dining room and chose to eat snacks at home instead. Her choices for meals were not nutritious. When we shopped, she wanted to buy various carbohydrates. Generally she would have had nutritious meals at the dining room. We didn't realize for a while that she was not going because she said she was going. When I checked with the dining room, I found out she hadn't been there for weeks. The only time she had gone was when I was there for a visit.

No longer could we rely on her taking her prescribed medicines. In discussion with her physician, she decided to start her on Aricept, an Alzheimer's med. We knew with this additional med to take that she would definitely need to have someone see that she took her appropriate medications regularly. The service of having someone deliver meds was available where she lived and it helped her to stay on her own for a longer time. Mom resented the interruption to her sleep when the person arrived. I felt reassured that someone was also checking in on her on a regular basis.

As time went on, Mom would not even be dressed when I arrived for a visit. I would need to help her shower and pick out her clothing. And sometimes it was even a struggle to convince her that she needed a shower. In the past, Mom was always fresh out of the shower, dressed to a T, and waiting for me when I would arrive for a visit or to take her to an appointment.

Those months of watching Mom's decline and working to give her the care that was appropriate at each stage were extremely stressful. I found it difficult to keep focused on my business and to feel passion in any part of my life. With skillful counseling and coaching, I developed strategies for rekindling my passion and getting the focus back in my business. I knew that I had to take care of myself in order to be there to support all the aspects of my life and business.

After six months of various strategies to support her to stay independent, my siblings, Mom's physician, and I made the decision that Mom really needed to be in the Care Center division of the life care facility. This was a difficult move because Mom was very attached to all the collection of family furniture and endless mementos of her full life.

We have surrounded her with family photos, recognition plaques she was awarded over the years, and hand work done by various members of the family including her mother. It was important to Mom that the family would appreciate the cherished belongings. My sister and brother and I sorted through her home, making sure that nothing was discarded that was part of our family heritage. We worked with all the family to find out what each person would like to have from the home. I took countless photos and posted them on the web so that family from Alaska to Washington, DC could view and choose items that had meaning and memories for them.

Mom is well cared for and still very much appreciates our visits. She is still pretty clear about all of the family, including many great grandchildren. Days and times and location are foggy for her, but with a very structured schedule, she is peaceful knowing what will happen next and that her needs will be met.

I'm able to be there for her with an open heart because of the steps I took to restore my resilient spirit.

If you'd like to learn some of the business and personal strategies I developed during time for me to keep focused and passionate about all parts of my life, join me in one of the FR*E teleforums I am offering in late October and November. "Are Family Challenges Choking the Life Out Of Your Business?"

Go here to register:

If you're dealing with Alzheimer's in your family and need some support in creating strategies for coping with all aspects of your life, check with Suzanne Holman, your Exuberant Productivity Coach and take the free Exuberance Assessment!