WHEN PEOPLE HEAR the term “work-life
balance,” they think about trying to spend an
equal amount of time in all areas of their
lives. “The problem with that is that almost
no entrepreneur can actually achieve that,”
says Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of
BNI.com, a global networking organization
and a Costco business member. “While life
can’t be fully in balance, it is possible to create
a life that is in harmony with your vision.”
Misner offers some simple techniques to
approach balance in your own life.
Wherever you are, be there. If you are
at work, don’t be thinking about the time
you didn’t spend with the family the night
before, or what you should be doing with
your significant other right now. When you
are at home, don’t be thinking about the
work you have to do at the office.
Be creative (about how you manage
your time). If you have a big project at work
that has to be done and you want to spend
time with the family one evening, get
creative. “I used to spend the evening
with the family, and
when everyone went
to bed I sat down to
write my first book,”
Misner says. “I finished the book
without taking any time away from
Integrate various elements of
your life. For many years, Misner spent
a couple of weeks or more working
remotely from his lake house. Now, he
brings his staff and management team
for short retreat/work days. The last week,
he takes off completely and spends time with
the family. By integrating the two worlds he
creates a sense of harmony.
Practice “letting go” and “holding on.”
things to say no to and
then letting go of them.
At the same time, think about the
things that are truly important in
your life and hold on to them with all
For more of Misner’s advice, go
to businessnetworking.com and click
on “Blog.” C
HOW MANY EMAILS should you have in your
inbox? How many times per day should you scroll
through them? How many times a day should
you check your email?
The answers are zero, zero and three.
Surprised? Read on and I will explain a process
that will allow you to completely empty your inbox.
Shortly after I started my productivity business,
email became widespread and changed the way
that people do business. Like many others, I began
my workday at 9 a.m. by sorting through emails.
At 10: 30 a.m. I was still going through them. I was
able to empty the inbox on my office desk in five
minutes using the organizational system I invented,
so why couldn’t I achieve the same results with
Finally it dawned on me: I was handling my
electronic inbox the same way I used to treat the
one on my desk. I was reading, replying to or
working on my emails while I was going through
them, instead of making decisions and categorizing
them. I could never get ahead!
Today, many people are caught up in an endless
loop of processing and producing. They can never
FROM THE Small Business
Administration’s Office of
Advocacy ( www.sba.gov/
advocacy) come these revealing statistics.
• About half of all new
establishments survive five
years or more and about one-third survive 10 years of more.
• The numbers of openings and closings of firms
with employees were up in the
most recently available data.
• Non-employer firms
have turnover rates three
times as high as employer
firms, mostly because it is easier for non-employers to start
and stop, as they tend to be
smaller than employer firms.
• Business bankruptcies
numbered 33,212 in 2013, a
decline of about 7,000 over
the previous year. Note that
not all firm deaths are business
bankruptcies, and many business owners file personal
bankruptcy instead of business
open and close
finish emptying their inbox because they are
working on emails rather than making decisions
about them. Processing consists of deciding,
categorizing, prioritizing and sorting. Producing is
accomplishing work and creating output.
Everything in your office and your computer
should be either an “Action” item or a “Support”
(save) item. Keep Action items (tasks to do now or
in the future) in Outlook or in your email program.
Keep Support items (reference information you
have no intention of doing anything with) in
Windows Explorer or your shared drive.
Starting from your electronic inbox, there are
four places or options for an email: forward, action,
delete and support (FADS).
• First, you can forward email. Click the
Forward icon and send the email on its way to
someone else. Limit your message to a few words.
• Second, you can drag email to an Action
folder such as Call, Read, Reply, Pay, Review, etc.
You can set up these folders in the left window
of your computer.
• The third choice is one of my favorites. Hit
the Delete key and say, “See ya.”
• The fourth option is a Support folder. Drag
an email to one of 12 or fewer Support category
folders in Windows Explorer, broken down by
subject, to save it. The Support categories are your
information storage system.
The only emails you want in your email
program are the ones that need action. This
way, everything you need to work on is in only
one spot—and not mixed in with Support
So, please, no more scrolling. Instead, decide
and drag emails to one of four places and watch
your life change for, well, the Vetter. C
of your inbox
Work-life balance: illusive and elusive
creative. “I used to spend the evening
GREG VETTER: BE PRODUCTIVE
Greg Vetter is a speaker,
trainer, author and owner
of Vetter Productivity. He
can be reached at www.