Top 10 Tips for Work+Life “Fit” Success in 2014

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Preparing to participate in the TODAY Show’s #DoingItAll series with Maria Shriver, made me think about the tips I’d want to share with everyone to help them be their best, on and off the job, in 2014.  So, here they are!

1) The goal is work+life fit, not balance. A perfect 50-50 split between your work and your personal life doesn’t exist.  And, for many people, “integration” is not the solution. It is the problem. They want work and life as separate as possible. Whether blended or separate, lots of work or a little, find your work+life “fit” or the way work fits into your life based upon your unique work and personal realities at a particular time.

2) Your employer can’t give you your work+life fit. Whether you have flexibility and support in your workplace or not, you still need to make your everyday work+life fit happen as deliberately as possible. And our research continues to prove most of us aren’t following the simplest steps that would make a big difference in our personal well-being and professional performance.

3) You have to learn how to manage your everyday work+life fit, flexibly and intentionally. It’s a modern skill set we all need to succeed, but few of us have. We are not taught how to put small, strategic boundaries up and allocate our time, money and energy across all the areas of our life. And we need to learn. What does that skill set look like? The Tweak It practice is one example of an everyday work+life fit how-to, while Work+Life is a process to create a formal flexible work plan that resets your work+life fit.

4) See all of your work, career and personal “to dos” as a big, beautiful buffet of possibilities.  We are too reactive to everything that comes at us daily. Reframe all of those endless “to dos” and see them as part of a big, beautiful buffet.  You can’t eat all of the dishes at once, even though most of us try to.

5) Set aside 20 minutes each week to reflect what you need to do and want to do at work, in your career and in your personal life.  This is where you will figure out how many servings you can take from which dishes on your work, career and personal life buffet to be your best over the next seven days.  Again, our research shows most of us don’t ask these simple questions.

6) Take small, meaningful actions, or “tweaks,” to close a gap between what’s happening in your work+life fit and what you want to have happen. Too often, we think a huge change is required to resolve the everyday overwhelm we feel. When the truth is a cup of coffee with a friend, doing your grocery shopping for the week online, or getting your haircut can make a big difference. But, once again, our research shows most of us don’t do this.

7) Keep a combined work and personal calendar and priority list.  You’ve identified the small, meaningful actions, or “tweaks,” you want to make in key areas over the next seven days. Now add them to a calendar and priority list that displays both your work and personal “to dos” for the week in one place. That way you are making decisions throughout the day based on a complete picture of what you want to accomplish on and off the job.

8) Good time management, or “what” you are going to do “when” is not enough. You have to think about “where” and “how” you will complete a particular tweak if you want it to happen.

9) Help each other! Life is way too fast-paced, and complex to think that we can go it alone and achieve success and well-being without any help. We have to work together to achieve our unique work+life fit goals in a mutually beneficial way. Want to try to walk for 30 minutes at lunch three times a week? Ask a colleague to cover for you, and then offer to cover for them if they have an important “tweak” they want to accomplish.

10) Celebrate success. If you choose seven additional work, career, or personal life tweaks for the week, but only accomplished five because of a customer crisis at work, and then your daughter got sick, celebrate the five you achieved. Perfection is not the goal. Life happens. Celebrate what you do get done, because it’s probably more than would have happened if you didn’t choose at all.

Here’s to a 2014 full of personal and professional success!

Related article: Fast Company–5 Insanely Simple Work Life Balance Shortcuts from People Who “Have It All” 

I invite you to connect with me and add to the list of “tips” in the comments section, on Twitter #worklifefit or on our Facebook page.

TODAY Show #DoingItAll Series–Links, Highlights and Gratitude

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What an exciting week!

It was an honor to participate in the #DoingItAll series on the TODAY Show in support of Maria Shriver’s important, groundbreaking, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink.

Many of you have asked for links to the segments and key takeaways…so here you go!

Tuesday: Two Amazing Women #DoingItAll

First, on Tuesday, I worked with two truly remarkable women who epitomize what it means to “do it all.”

Both of these women approach the challenges in their lives with courage, persistence, optimism and humor. They inspired me.

Watch and listen to their stories and my advice (video links below):

How to set productive boundaries: Teleworking, independent marketing consultant and single mom of two

How to ask for help and take small, doable, intentional steps: Small business owner, and single mom of three 


Wednesday: #DoingItAll Help-a-thon

Then, on Wednesday, a group of finance, health, legal, career and life experts gathered in the TODAY Show studios to answer questions posted by viewers on email, Twitter and Facebook.

We were there from 7 am to 12 pm est. You have not seen a more dedicated group of people. We tried our best to answer as many of the hundreds of often very difficult, emails, tweets and posts that people sent in.

In this picture, Hoda and Kathie Lee pay us a visit in the Orange Room during their show. The experts pictured (starting from the bottom left) are Dale Atkins, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carmen Wong Ulrich, Dr. Janet Taylor.  Then in the back row (starting on the right), Dr. Roshini Raj, Valorie Burton, Lisa Bloom, and then me.

Down in the main studio were Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Sharon Epperson and Dr. Gail Saltz.  And in Washington, D.C. with Maria Shriver, were Ellen Galinsky and Jean Chatzky.

#DoingItAll Series Gratitude

As I reflect on the experience, here are the three things I am most grateful for:

Maria Shriver: I am grateful that she used her powerful platform and voice to draw attention to the realities of millions of women (and men!) who are trying to do it all under very difficult circumstances.  If you haven’t done so already, read  The Shriver Report–A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, and take at least one or two of the “next steps” outlined in the study. (And yes, she is as smart, nice and cool in person as she appears on television.)

TODAY Show: For sharing the stories of real women who are #doingitall and then trying to connect viewers with the resources they need.

The people I met who truly care and want to make a difference: From Maria Shriver, to the TODAY Show producers, to the experts participating in the Help-a-thon, to the participants in The Atlantic’s day-long symposium streamed live yesterday, people care. Individually, we may be limited in what we can do, but together we can make a difference. And it starts with caring…I saw that in spades.

Finally, as I prepared for the segments and the Help-a-thon, I thought about what I wished everyone knew to help them manage work and life, better and smarter, in 2014.

So, stay tuned…next week I will share my “Top Ten Work+Life Fit Tips for 2014.”  And I want to hear your ideas, too!

Together, we can succeed while we’re #DoingItAll.

Want to continue the conversation between posts?  I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and to visit/like our Facebook page.


TODAY Show–#Doing It All, The Shriver Report

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This week is special, so you will hear from me a bit more than usual over the next few days.

On Sunday, Maria Shriver officially released the findings from her new, groundbreaking, The Shriver Report–A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink. 

In addition to the report (which I highly recommend), on Wednesday 1/15, you can tune in to the day-long symposium in Washington D.C. hosted by The Atlantic and streamed online.

But the launch events don’t stop there.

To support the study, the TODAY Show has partnered with Shriver to offer how-to advice and support to the majority of women in the U.S. who are “doing it all”, but especially the 1 in 3 who are near or at the brink of poverty.

Not everyone works for the forward-thinking organizations that ask me to consult with their leadership and share strategies with their employees; therefore, I am always looking for ways to spread the “work+life fit” message more broadly, especially to those who need it the most.

So, I was thrilled when the TODAY Show approached me to be a member of the team of experts who will appear this week to offer advice to real women struggling with the everyday overwhelm of jobs, kids and life.

While programming is always subject to last minute changes, it looks I will help two women on Tuesday. One will be in a segment we taped in December (see above) with a terrific mom in Houston, and the other will happen live in the studio with Hoda and Kathie Lee.

Then on Wednesday, I will join a team of finance, health and career experts for the TODAY Show’s first-ever LIVE “Help-a-thon”. We will answer questions live on email, Twitter and Facebook, so check it out and participate from 7 am to 12 pm est. Jump in, ask questions and offer your advice! Follow #DoingItAll.

The reason you will hear from me more frequently this week is that I’m going to kick-off the “Helpathon” on Wednesday by sharing the first five of my “Top Ten Work+Life Fit Tips for 2014.” Then, I will follow up on Thursday with the final five tips, and an insider’s recap of the Helpathon experience.

Together, we can make a difference for everyone (men and women) “doing it all”!

I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and on our Facebook page.

8 Alumni of Columbia Business School Changing the World

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Honored to be profiled in the most recent Columbia Business School magazine as one of the “8 Alumni Who Are Changing the World” with Warren Buffet (’51), Sally Krawcheck (’92) and five other inspiring change-makers.  Thank you, CBS!

Click here for the complete article.


TWEAK IT: December Book-a-Day Giveaway Courtesy of Citrix

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Do you have friends or family members who want to:

  • Stop feeling constantly overwhelmed by competing demands at work and in their personal lives,
  • Take more control over the way their work and life fit together,
  • Be their best, on and off the job, every day?

To help, Citrix has donated 20 signed copies of my book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day for me to give away every day starting Monday, December 2nd through Saturday, December 21st.

Here’s how the giveaway will work:

  • Each morning, starting Monday, December 2nd, the FIRST person to email me after 9 am est at the email address tweakitbook (at) will get a free, personalized copy of my book mailed to them.
  • In your email, please include the following: your name, your mailing address, and the name of the person to whom you would like the book dedicated.
  • Every morning, I will post a reminder of the giveaway on Twitter and Facebook.
  • If you miss the giveaway one morning, try again the next day.
  • The final day of the giveaway will be Saturday, December 21st. (This will give us time to mail the book to you for the holidays, assuming you live in the U.S.)
  • One book per person.

Again, the email address is tweakitbook (at)

Thank you Citrix for helping me share a little work+life “fit” inspiration this holiday season.

Citrix has been a generous sponsor of TWEAK IT this past year because they, like me, are committed to offering products that help you flexibly manage your work and your life to be your best.  Here are a couple of my favorite Citrix products you may want to check out*:

GoToMeeting — Easy-to-use, web-based video teleconferencing and screen-sharing platform that lets you connect with colleagues and customers face-to-face anytime, anywhere.

Podio — Project-management, information-sharing and communication platform that allows teams to consolidate and record interactions and documents in one place.

Happy Holidays!  Now, send me an email and win a book…you get 20 chances!

*Full disclosure: To give me a first-hand experience using their products, Citrix offered to let me test them free of charge.


Open Office Spaces and Telework: Marriage Made in Heaven, That No One Talks About

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There’s a growing awareness that if an organization wants to realize the full potential of its open office space, then there are some real challenges that have to addressed related to uninterrupted focus, and quiet.  

Yes, when you substitute long tables and plug-and-play spaces for office walls and dedicated cubicles, you can fit more people into the same area which saves money.  And, when individuals encounter each other more easily throughout the day, it can encourage collaboration and creativity that might not happen otherwise.

But what do you do when you need uninterrupted time to focus deeply on a project?  Where do you go to have a private conversation with a colleague or a client?

Currently, the answer is to offer a certain number of quiet rooms that can be reserved in advance for a specific period of time or to provide areas/alcoves that provide some freedom from disturbances.

Unfortunately, what we’re hearing from employees and leaders is that these dedicated private spaces oftentimes don’t match the need. Here are some common experiences:

  • A person will reserve a room for an hour to give their undivided attention to a project, but finds that sixty minutes isn’t enough time. However someone else needs the room. They have to pick up in the middle of their work and lose momentum.
  • An individual spins his wheels struggling to complete a report by the end of the day because colleagues decide to hold an impromptu meeting in the space next to where he is working. He tries to find an alcove that’s quieter but all are taken.

People have found ways to adapt and work around the challenges. They are using headphones even though the music can be a distraction, albeit a lesser one. Others extend their workday to complete the tasks that require the most concentration. They wake up earlier and work from home before they leave or in the evening when they return.

But there’s alternative solution that doesn’t get enough attention. What if organizations promote the periodic use of telework as a alternative option when undistracted attention and quiet are needed to get the job done, well and efficiently? It’s a win-win for both the organization and its people.  The cost-saving/innovation benefits of the open office space are coupled with the productivity boost from periodic, strategic and targeted telework. If done correctly, it can be a marriage made in heaven.

Instead of losing focus and productivity:

  • A person who needs to give undivided attention to a complex project can telework that day from a location that allows her to think deeply.
  • An individual who finds the impromptu meeting of his colleagues too distracting, can leave and find a location more conducive to concentration.

After her group transitioned to an open office space plan, the General Counsel of a global pharmaceutical company quickly realized the power of telework to address the concentration struggles of her team.

She encouraged her staff attorneys to pick the place where they did their best thinking when they needed to prepare for a case and get through a complicated document.

Some attorneys chose to work in the office, some at home and others from a coffee shop where no one knew them. One attorney even chose to work from a library close to the office.

The trick is that the General Counsel couldn’t determine where each person who reports to her would be the most productive on a given day.  For the open office space/telework marriage to thrive, each individual employee has to be taught, as part of their everyday work+life fit management practice, to think through “where” they will do their job most effectively.

The open office space trend will continue as organizations look for ways to cut overhead and save money. However CFOs and facilities management should partner upfront with Human Resources, the IT group, managers and employees and explore how telework can make the transition successful for the business and its people.

For more on the topic, check out Katherine Lewis’ recent article on  “The slow death of the private office.”

What do you think?  Are open office spaces and telework destined to be together?

Gen-Y: “Promote Yourself” to Get the Work Flexibility and “Balance” You Desire

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Trust me, my corporate clients recognize that Gen-Y/Millennials place a high premium on work-life “balance” and flexibility in the when, where and how they do their jobs.  

What those same corporate clients don’t 100% trust is that their under 30 year old employees understand that the secret to “balance” and greater flexibility is…performance and results.

In other words, if you consistently deliver and “do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it,” fewer people are going to stand in your way if you want to work from home one day or shift your hours (assuming it makes sense for your job).

But how do you achieve that optimal level of performance and deliver those results in today’s workplace so that, in turn, you can achieve your goals, on and off the job?

In every generation, there will always be people who don’t want to make the effort.  But my experience has been that most millennials are willing to work hard.  They just need someone to lay out what that looks like in action, because the secrets to success that worked for their 50 year old boss, aren’t necessarily going to work for them.

Dan Schawbel’s new book, “Promote Yourself,” is a great place to start.  It offers an honest roadmap, like his “14 rules of the new workplace that millennials need to master“:

  1. Your job description is just the beginning.
  2. Your job is temporary.
  3. You’re going to need a lot of skills you probably don’t have right now.
  4. Your reputation is the single greatest asset you have.
  5. Your personal life is now public.
  6. You need to build a positive presence in new media.
  7. You’ll need to work with people from different generations.
  8. Your boss’s career comes first.
  9. The one with the most connections wins.
  10. Remember the rule of one.
  11. You are the future.
  12. Entrepreneurship is for everyone, not just business owners.
  13. Hours are out, accomplishments are in.
  14. Your career is in your hands, not your employer’s.
Millennials, if you follow these steps, you are much more likely to hear “let’s give that flexibility you want a try,” rather than the often unfair and misguided “you just don’t want to work hard.
To learn more about Dan Schawbel and “Promote Yourself”

How to Beat the Back-to-School AND Back-to-Work Crunch!

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We know it’s coming – the dreaded back-to-school crunch – but every year we seem to be caught off guard. Plus, as we struggle with the beginning of a new school year, work projects on hold for the summer suddenly go into overdrive as fourth quarter/year-end is just around the corner.

It’s a double whammy recipe for disaster unless moms and dads take action now.

As I explain in my new book, Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, (Center Street/Hachette), parents can get ahead of the mayhem by adding these simple “tweaks” to their weekly work+life fit check-in the last couple of weeks in August:

First, identify, breakdown and plan the back-to-school activities typically encountered every year. For example:

  • Add 2013-2014 school dates into your calendar, including extra-curricular sport and activities.
  • If your kids haven’t started school yet, review the “summer pre-work” your child may have and count back from the first day of school to set a reasonable schedule for completion. Minimize the last minute all-nighters.
  • Buy school supplies early, before the line is out the door and the shelves are picked clean (I seem to find myself in those lines every year!)
  • Take advantage of back-to-school sales to buy a couple of basic needs but count on shorts and t-shirts for the first few weeks. Saves money and unworn clothes in the closet.

Next, think about projects and responsibilities at work that will require attention after Labor Day:

  • Sit down with your boss to clearly identify projects and priorities for September and October.
  • Ask if there is anything you and the team could do to prepare and get a jump-start on. Right now, we are planning for upcoming consulting projects and speaking engagements that will gear up after Labor Day.
  • Share dates you may need to take off or have additional flexibility around back-to-school, such as first day(s) of drop off and pick up.
  • Leave the evenings and weekends the week before and two weeks after the start of school as free and uncommitted as possible.
  • If you have to schedule out of town travel or evening work activities, make sure you coordinate with your partner or friends for child care coverage well in advance. I have a trip to San Francisco the week after my kids start school, but I am already thinking about what I need to arrange before I leave.

A little bit of thoughtful planning, discussion and action now, can limit the back-to-school stress, and the fourth-quarter work frenzy later.

What do you do to beat the back-to-school AND back-to-work crunch?

If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and to “like” our Facebook page.

Work+Life Fit: Enable Engagement, Profit and Sustainable Growth

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I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Moe Abdou, the founder and visionary behind

The mission of is to “bring together the most influential thinking and thinkers on the planet to help entrepreneurs and business creators build great businesses and live great lives.”

With an intention like that, you can’t help but be a fan.

Not only is Moe Abdou a terrific interviewer, but he truly understands that work+life fit and flexibility are strategic business imperatives that can lead to engagement, profit and sustainable growth. That’s not always the case for business leaders, like Moe, with backgrounds in finance and entrepreneurship.

Because he “gets it,” we covered a lot of fascinating territory in our interview, including:

Ambition.  Why we need to expand the definition of ambition beyond just “work.”  How some of the most interesting and successful people are ambitious in work AND life. These are the highly engaged, creative, innovative thinkers influencing companies and communities.

Work+life fit, engagement, and profit: Why there is a direct link.

The challenge posed by work and life integration.  Clocks and walls disappeared and no longer tell us where work ends and other parts of life begin. Because nothing replaced those traditional boundaries, we are still reeling from the radical change.

Work+life fit and sustainable growth.  There are times when work may be a greater priority, but then there will be periods where personal demands require more attention.  In order to sustain work effort for the long haul, we cannot continually neglect our health, loved ones, professional development.

Why we need to manage the fit between work and life:  I talk about how my work with these issues over the last two decades caused me to reject the mythology that someone else could tell us when to shut down and find an overall sense of well-being.  Why knowing how to manage our unique work+life fit is a modern skill set that requires training and support.  And why I wrote my new book, TWEAK IT, to offer a simple weekly work+life fit “how to” practice.

How to harness the power of small deliberate actions. We can’t be reactive bystanders frantically responding to what comes at us every day. We need to reflect and make small, intentional choices in our work, personal life and careers each week, otherwise it’s too overwhelming and what matters to us won’t happen.

I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to the interview. Then please share your thoughts about work+life fit as a modern path to the engagement, profit and sustainable growth.

Again, many thanks to Moe Abdou and 33Voices!


Highlights Deck:

Yes, Small Biz Owners CAN Work and Have a Life Too! Tips and Challenges

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If I am completely honest, one of the primary motivations for writing TWEAK IT, was to learn how to make what mattered to me happen every day, on and off the job.

I am an entrepreneur/small business owner.  While there are many wonderful benefits to my chosen professional path, there are a few downsides.

For me, and for many small business owners I meet, one of the biggest challenges IS managing our work+life fit. 

Perhaps we have a greater degree of flexibility and control, but we often have more limited resources–time, people and money.  Therefore, it is very easy to fall into the traps like:

“I’ll just send one more email, and then have dinner with my family.” But then dinner’s over, or

“I can go to the gym tomorrow because I need to finish this proposal.”  Then you realize you haven’t moved your body in three weeks.

After researching and writing TWEAK IT and then following the simple weekly work+life fit practice myself for that last few years, I believe small business owners can work AND have a life.

We just have to be a bit more intentional about it. 

So I was thrilled when VISA Small Business approached me to be the featured expert on their Facebook page last month!

I offered entrepreneurs/small business owners seven of my best work+life fit tips and challenges.

VISA transformed them into such beautiful graphics, I had to share.

What other tips and challenges would you offer?













Challenge #1:












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Challenge #3:












Tip #1:












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Tip #3:












Tip #4: