Recently I received an e-mail from a reader who felt nervous about moving forward with a new, exciting job offer. She worried about how her life would be affected 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.
My Work Motto
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 a sixty-hour workweek and a frenetic pace will bring you 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, most successful people always end up producing better results by working smart not hard.
It's 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 and exhaustion. Taking better care of yourself makes good business sense.
If you don't believe me, try an experiment. Incorporate some or all 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
- I take lunch everyday and do something unrelated to work. For example, I get out of the office and take a walk, visit a local park, read a book, or visit with a friend.
- I work reasonable hours. On most days, I arrive at _____ and leave by _____.
- I schedule "breathing room" every day so I can step back, re-evaluate my priorities, and be sure that I'm working on what really matters.
- 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 keep a reserve of fresh water nearby.
- 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.
- I train myself to consistently look for ways to delegate work in order to empower others while I honor my Absolute Yes list.
- I hire only highly competent, talented people to support my efforts.
- I ask family and friends to honor my work time by eliminating non-essential personal calls and interruptions.
- I coordinate my work schedule to remove distractions and interruptions. For example, I design blocks of uninterrupted, focused time; I turn the ringer off on the phone; and check voicemail and e-mail at preplanned times (only when necessary).
- I refuse to participate in gossip, drama, or complaining. The moment I hear or see it happening, I leave the room.
- I stop taking on more than I can handle. When asked to take on a project, I check to be sure 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, 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.