Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bone Tired?

Several folks have commented lately that they are just bone tired of working this hard, flat out, all the time.

When did this happen? According to history - a lot and often. It seems that the notion of a 5 day/37.5 hr work week is a myth each generation thinks they’ll achieve and doesn’t.

A lot of us are finding ourselves in a Dickensian kind of world - weekends erode with spill-over from work; we’re paid on a 35 - 40 hr. week but work more; personal projects slip to the side as irrelevant; ‘where did the time go?’ is a common refrain.

Time to mentor? Time to find a mentor? Time to network (events or individuals)? Pah! We’re too busy with work, looking for work, catching up or trying to let go!

I’m currently working long hours and careening from one minute/need to the next, just like everyone else. Here’s what I have figured out….

Time management is a complex web of obligations, expectations and choices. When it becomes overwhelming, we forget to adjust the expectations and rethink the choices - it all feels like obligation.

Rough definitions and questions to ask:
Obligation: is a commitment
• Will they fire me if I don’t do it?
• Will my family/friends disown me if I don’t do it?
• What happens if I say yes/no? (fire? plague? famine?)

Expectation: is the range or scope of the commitment, sometimes unspoken or assumed
• What happens if I say yes/no? (complaints? costs? inconvenience?)
• Does someone assumes this is part of the package under an obligation? (scope of commitment)

Choice: is the freedom to say yes or no
• If I did it once before, why would/wouldn’t I do it again?
• Does this obligation/expectation fit any of my agreements or goals?
• Can I do it now, defer or avoid?
• Do I really want to do this?

So I sat down and broke all my commitments down again. I looked at the priorities from my goals to my team’s goals and set a few limits.
- I’m choosing to stay late at least twice this week to catch up on my planning.
- I’m unable to meet a few expectations this week because I’ve got other projects and family obligations taking precedence.
- I’ve decided not to apologize for those but simply offer an alternate to those I’m holding up (as in “hold the meeting without me” or “I need one more week or you can ask someone else”.)

Yes, I feel guilty about not being super mom… yes, it feels odd to say my kid’s cat being ill takes precedence over me being at a meeting on Wedsnesday…. yes, I overcommitted myself in the first place and I should have planned better.

We’ll never get away from the world wanting every second of us it can get. We can stop for 15 seconds and make sure we’re steering our own ship.

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