Overworked? Stop That Nonsense!

By | Blogpost, Work Life Balance

overworked clerkIn some industries, overwork is considered not only normal but desirable. Wall Street analysts, doctors and lawyers are notorious for working ridiculous hours in return for equally ridiculous salaries. Eighty-hour, even hundred-hour work weeks are not uncommon – and incredibly stupid.

That’s an idiotic trend that has unfortunately spread like a disease to other industries. People feel like they need to be on call 24/7, connected by the umbilical cords of cell phones and email. In our instant-gratification world, you might think that you have no choice in the matter. If you don’t produce results, somebody else will get the job. Boundaries are being blurred, and life suffers.

And ironically, productivity goes down – after all, you cannot expect your brain or your body to function optimally, with the required focus and concentration, for long periods without breaks. Back before connectivity, people would go home and leave their work at their job. Not anymore. Especially in industries where billable hours drive business (such as law), quality inevitably declines with overwork.

Although overwork has become synonymous with prosperity and success, if you really want to get the most out of your life, STOP doing that. If you’re an employee who is expected to be available at the company’s whim anytime, change jobs. It’s not worth it. Think about your deathbed for a moment (sorry, grim reminder) – looking back at your life, were all those interruptions in family time worth it?

Simply put, the longer you work, the less efficient and effective you become. Mistakes mount up quickly, burnout becomes almost inevitable, and you are left with a nice fat paycheck and a completely empty life.

So no matter what you’re doing, focus on quality, not quantity. Create action plans to be sure you’re following the 80/20 rule where 80% of your results come from the critical 20% of your actions.

If your industry demands this kind of life-sucking sacrifice from you, and you are not truly madly in love with what you do (to the point that you choose to do it every day, all day) then ask yourself, is this worth it? Would you be better off choosing an industry that is more suited to a well-rounded life – and still makes buckets of money?

If you’re an entrepreneur, delegate. It’s cheaper in the long run to hire help than it is to run yourself into the ground and lose your zest for living.

In short – work smarter, not harder.

 

Inspired by a an article by James Surowiecki from The New Yorker posted on http://www.gtdtimes.com/

How Balanced Are Your Goals?

By | Blogpost, Work Life Balance

If you’re finding yourself sacrificing too much to achieve your goals, the following tips can help you bring balance back into your life, and give you a lot more enjoyment out of the whole process. This takes a little introspection but it’s so very worth it in the end!

1. Begin with the visionary aspect of yourself. Look at your goal and look at the big picture of how this fits in with your life, how it affects your life and how it benefits you. How are you spreading your energy and managing your time? Is some part of the big picture not getting the attention it needs? For example, are you neglecting exercise in favour of “just another hour at the office” to finish a project? Are your relationships suffering in favour of your goals? Of course there will be times when you have to throw yourself 100 percent into something, but in general you want your goals to fit into your life, not push it aside. Otherwise, the joy of achievement will be very hollow and incomplete.

2. Next, examine your inner collaborator. Relationships really are everything, at the end of the day. Who can help you achieve your goal(s)? Who needs more attention from you? Do you need to reach out to someone you’ve been “meaning to” call but haven’t? You just never know who can help you, even in a very small way. Keep your relationships alive and healthy.

3. Look at your inner organiser. Do you have a sense of order? Is your workspace and home chaotic and messy, which sucks energy from you – or are you able to give your energies to what is really important because all of your unfinished business has been attended to? Do you have any items on your to-do list that you’ve been procrastinating on? Get them done, get them out of your head and move on to bigger and better things!

4. Finally, look at your inner driver. How’s your motivation? What’s the status of your milestones? What can you do to motivate yourself and drive action? Are you “busy” in certain areas of your life and procrastinating on others? Is your action too focused, or not focused enough? Do your actions positively affect your whole life? Are you following the 80/20 rule (80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your actions)?

These aspects of you are very important. We often talk about areas of life that need balancing, but if you put these four aspects of yourself into action, you’ll find it easier to achieve your goals:

  • the driver can make things happen but doesn’t see the big picture (so can become obsessed with the goal); keep the driver in check with a solid vision, and with a conscious eye on collaboration.
  • the visionary sees the big picture, but might get overwhelmed and can be prone to procrastination; to temper the vision with a dose of reality, the organiser can chunk tasks into manageable portions and create a plan that supports the vision.
  • the organiser is good at being on-task, but without direction from the visionary, it doesn’t know what to do next. Without impetus from the driver, it won’t take a step.
  • the collaborator nurtures relationships, but is not action-oriented. The visionary, driver and organiser help the collaborator stay on track while strengthening relationships.

Final thought: don’t forget your inner slacker! Sometimes, you need a break from it all, to do nothing whatsoever, with no agenda, no to-do list, no rules, no obligations… nothing. The slacker balances the four go-getters very nicely. Just don’t let the slacker get too comfortable, because while inertia can be fun for a little bit, in the long run it’s deeply unsatisfying.

 

Inspired by Dr. Ginny Whitelaw’s blog on http://integrallife.com/