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Are You Ditching Work-Life Balance Because You’re Afraid of Losing Your Job?

Are You Ditching Work-Life Balance Because You’re Afraid of Losing Your Job?

Balance

    Some people think that life balance is a thing of luxury, something you pursue when times are good…that we should work like dogs  to remain indispensable in this unpredictable economy. But wait a sec. Weren’t we were already working like dogs, before we added in the fear of losing our jobs? Here’s what got me going on this subject:

    In the post Keep Your Job: A 10-Point Survival Guide at CNNMoney/Fortune, Anne Fisher quoted some sobering numbers:

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    According to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management 60% [of US employers] plan to cut headcount. Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm that closely tracks layoff statistics, predicts 1 million more pink slips in 2009, and says the job market may not bounce back until 2011.

    She goes on to share 10 excellent points offered up by executive coach Deb Bright but #7 made me gulp:

    For now, forget about work-life balance. A major preoccupation when the economy was humming along nicely, “having time for outside interests has to go right out the window now,” says Bright. “You need to concentrate on doing whatever it takes to make yourself indispensable.”

    If you’re listening with one ear, it might sound like logical advice, but a little trickster lives inside that suggestion. Work-life balance isn’t solely about balancing work and play. It’s about how you work, what you value, finding ways to match your values to your employer’s values, and accomplishing workplace goals with clarity and finesse.

    In contrast, here’s what FedEx Kinko’s employees found out about themselves thanks to DM News and the Work-Life Balancing Act:

    Nearly half – 47% – of those polled in FedEx Office’s Finding Better Balance survey say finding a better work/life balance is even more important to them in 2009, compared to last year.

    The survey, released today, queried 501 full-time, U.S. workers. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 58% believe it will be more important to find better work/life balance in 2009, compared to 46% of those age 35 to 54, and just 30% for the 50-and-over group. In addition, 86% say they plan to actively pursue this better balance this year.

    “As we start a new year, it’s common for employees to take stock of the last 12 months and evaluate their priorities at home and in the office,” said Tracy Brightman, senior vice president of human resources for FedEx Office (formerly FedEx/Kinko’s), in a statement. “Proper work/life balance is a key factor in employee satisfaction and productivity.”

    Among those surveyed, 49% said they planned to take advantage of all vacation time in the new year; 44% said they would prioritize projects, and 42% said they would create a weekly to-do list; 41% said they would leave work at a reasonable hour and 36% said they planned to take lunch breaks on a consistent basis.

    Lack of Balance Adds Pounds to Your Body, Mind and Spirit

    Forgetting about balance is rooted in fear. And I’m guessing that a large proportion of people recently laid off we’re working like dogs to be indispensable. With so many more people on the brink of losing their jobs, fear needs balance to be a useful emotion.

    If you’ve been working hard at becoming indispensable, it’s likely that you’re working late, powering through lunch, skipping workouts, ditching networking and playing with friends. You’re probably also missing soccer games and not too thrilled about doing homework with your kids, not to mention being coherent enough to perk up your resume and research possible career opportunities. If this is true for you, you’re going to be scrambling to make up for lost time if you lose your job.

    Living in balance in a down economy is essential, not only for your wellbeing outside of work, but to assure you remain agile and flexible and capable of making good, values-based decisions in and about your work. As an example, if you were interested in maintaining a competitive advantage and being in shape to meet the next opportunity with confidence, wouldn’t working out make great sense? Who feels agile and flexible and confident with 20 or 30 extra pounds? And what about the burden of weight you’ll carry in your mind and spirit?

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    Work smart and strategically. Make sure what you choose to say yes to at work serves the company’s larger goals and your career goals. Less is more. And the only time more is more is when it’s more of less.

    Your 2 cents?

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    Last Updated on July 13, 2020

    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

    Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

    1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

    The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

    Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

    For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

    The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

    2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

    Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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    As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

    Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

    3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

    Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

      This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

      We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

      Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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      When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

      Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

      4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

      Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

      For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

      Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

      5. Make Decisions

      For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

      If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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      If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

      Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

      I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

      This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

      The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

      6. Take Some Form of Action

      Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

      The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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      It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

      Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

      The Bottom Line

      Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

      When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

      More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

      Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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