"No problem, I can handle it." "I'll volunteer." "I'd be happy to help." "Saying no just doesn't cut it around here."
Ever said these phrases? If so, you know how quickly work can pile up, and how far behind you can get before you even know what happened. I hate when that happens, but for some reason there is an unwritten code that leaders have to take on every assignment. Why is that? What is is about American culture (or perhaps corporate culture) that compels us to take on so much work that we risk failure? Or at least we risk being slower than we would like to be in completing our work.
Big Risk Does Not Equal Big Reward
In her 2007 article When Hard Work Becomes Overwork, Phyllis Korkki describes the pitfalls of living a lifestyle exclusively focused on work. Often times our over commitment results in non-productive work, quite the opposite of what we originally intended! Do you take pride in telling colleagues how late you stay at the office? Or when you sent that last email of the night? Does that make you feel important? More productive? Indispensable? Ouch, I bet that last one hit close to home. It does for me too.
It's About Balance
Over the years I've tried to adopt a new approach that takes into account my responsibilities at work, and the rest of my life -> the two-hour rule. The goal is to make sure I'm with those important to me outside of work for at least two hours a day (kids, volunteering, etc...). Sometimes that means I leave things unfinished and catch up later once life settles down; sometimes that means I rush frantically during the day to attend something important in the evening; and sometimes I just can't meet my two-hour goal. But it's always out there, helping me stay focused on balancing my life.
How About You
Do you lose your focus from time to time? If so, what do you do about it? Do you get yourself back on track; or, are you too excited to tell everyone that you stayed at the office until 9:00 last night because you're such a productive employee?
I'd love to hear from you.
pics courtesy of GRGP and New Consultant HQ