Overworked? 8:02 a.m. 2003-10-28

Current Listening: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - just finished!
Current Reading: Julie by Jean Craighead George
Recipe of the Day: Flageolets with Smoked Sausage, Tamarind Sweet Potato Bisque, Beef Brisket Braised in Guiness, Stewed Dried Plums in Marsala

This is from Cheryl Richardson's website:

Recently I received an e-mail from a reader who, after spending the last three months on sabbatical, had been offered a new position with a terrific company. She and the company recognized that this new job fit her talents, skill level and values perfectly. The company was very excited about having her join their team, yet she felt nervous about moving forward. She worried about how her life would be effected by making the transition from a healthy, more balanced lifestyle, to what she assumed would be a fast paced, demanding schedule. My advice to her was simple: since you call the shots, play by new rules.

Whether you're starting a new job, running your own business, or working for a company already, you have a choice about how you work. You can make your self-care a priority and be more productive and effective, or you can continue to believe that sixty hour work weeks and a frenetic pace equals more success.

Although there are many goals that drive an organization, the primary goal of business is to make money. That's just a basic fact. In order to achieve the company objectives and keep people employed, the organization needs to increase their bottom line (profit) on a consistent basis. That's why most companies get worried when employees start talking about work/life balance issues. They make the mistake of believing that supporting self-care strategies at work will promote laziness, selfishness and unproductive activities. This may be true for some employees, but experience has shown me that the best and the brightest people always end up producing better results.

It is a myth to believe that working long hours at a frantic pace makes you productive. By now most of us recognize that overwork and stress cause everything from a lack of creativity to stress-related illnesses that diminish our effectiveness. Taking better care of ourselves makes good business sense. If you don't believe me, try an experiment. Incorporate some of the new rules below for the next 30 days and see what happens. If you adopt some of these rules and put them into practice you'll find that you not only get more done at work, you create more time for your life.

New Rules for 21st Century Business

1. I take lunch everyday and do something unrelated to work. For example, I get out of the office and take a walk, listen to a relaxation tape, write in a journal, or visit with a friend.

2. I work reasonable hours. On most days, I arrive at ____ and leave by ____.

3. I schedule "breathing room" every day so I can step back, re-evaluate my priorities and be sure that I am working on what really matters.

4. I do whatever it takes to create a healthy work environment. I keep my office free of clutter and if necessary, I use a clean air filter, full spectrum lighting, and I keep a reserve of bottled water nearby.

5. I have an "Absolute Yes" list for work (a 3" x 5" index card with my top five priorities listed in order of importance) and I refer to it often.

6. I train myself to consistently look for ways to delegate work in order to empower others so I can honor my Absolute Yes list.

7. I hire only highly competent, talented people to support my efforts.

8. I ask family and friends to honor my work time by eliminating non-essential personal calls and interruptions.

9. I coordinate my work schedule to remove distractions and interruptions. For example, I design blocks of uninterrupted, focused time and I only check voicemail and e-mail twice a day (keep breathing on this one ).

10. I stop taking on more than I can handle. When asked to take on a project, I check to be sure that I can complete the assignment without suffering or sacrificing my self-care.

Think of these rules as part of a 21st Century job description. Putting them into practice may be challenging at first, but I can assure you that if you do, you'll be more effective at work and more relaxed at home. To ensure your success, you might ask a co-worker, fellow self-employed friend, or partner to try the 30 day experiment with you. If you work for someone else, be sure to let your boss and/or co-workers know ahead of time that you'll be using these new rules to challenge yourself to be more focused and productive during the day. Invite them to join you in discovering how self-care at work translates into bottom line results.

~*~Take Action Challenge~*~

Create your own 21st Century job profile. Cut and paste the above list into a file and customize it to fit your needs. When you have your new rules in place, print it out and hang it on the wall in your office. Review the list each day and pay close attention to how your workday and personal life improve over time.

I liked this. I think it is actually NOT possible for many of my teaching colleagues. With this new schedule, some of them only have ONE 48 minute planning period, and they have to take their students to lunch! I am very grateful for the double planning period I have that includes NOT having to take kids to lunch. I had better enjoy it while I have it!

I am still not feeling 100%. I don't know if it is the new anti-depressants, of if I still haven't completely recovered from my cold, but I am sleepy! I yawn all the time!

I have managed to get my lesson plans up to date, but still have to finish "prioritizing" the curriculum for my colleague. I said I'd do it, and I am a woman of my word! Then, I have to work on my Cultural Diversity newsletter. All of this to get done before NaNoWriMo begins next Saturday.

Next Saturday, too, I have promised to help chaperone participants to the Latin American Association's Youth Conference. Yay.

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Tiedyefor 2003