|Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey
It seems that last month's Newsletter struck a nerve with many of you dealing with the stress of personal/professional overload and the challenge of creating a balanced life. I will share my dilemma with you: when I am spending a lot of time pursuing my career, I feel guilty that I am not spending enough time at home. When I am spending more time at home, I feel guilty that I am not spending enough time on my career! How do you win? I have struggled with this issue for a long time, and it was the impetus for my workshop LOVE Your Work and LIVE Your Life, Too!
I spent a lot of time researching this issue, and what follows are seven strategies to help you avoid overload in your job so that you can be productive at work AND have a personal life as well:
It is not easy to pace ourselves at work. We all have such full plates, and the demands on us seem to be greater than ever before. It takes running at full speed just to keep up. However, if we work at this pace every day, burnout will certainly occur. Finding a pace we can sustain means knowing when mind and body have had enough and slowing down. It means we need to look at how to work smarter not harder. For me it is knowing when to say no without guilt when saying yes would get me off focus from the goals I set for myself. Think about it ... what can you do today to work smarter so that you have the desire and the energy to work on what is really important?
In my Newsletter of July, 2003, I discussed the importance of having a vision. One of the reasons a vision is so important is that it helps us prioritize our days at work. When we have a vision we gravitate to those activities and projects that will lead us closer to achieving it. W get that "quirk" in our hearts when we have done something that directly relates to what we are trying to accomplish. We also get that feeling in the pits of our stomachs when we are working on something that we know will not lead us to where we need to go. The vision we hold becomes the compass that keeps us on track and away from the trivial, non-productive elements at work that may keep us busy but do not move us in a forward direction. Sometimes the projects and tasks we enjoy the most are the least productive. It takes discipline and courage to put them at the bottom of the list so that we can spend the time on the ones that produce the most benefits.
When do you do your best work? I am a morning person. I go to bed early and I am up early and do my best work in the morning. Since I live in California and many clients and prospective clients are on the East Coast, I have trained myself to be in my office at 6:30 a.m., since that is already 9:30 a.m. back East, 8:30 and 7:30 in other time zones. Some of the best work I do, whether it is marketing, preparing a new seminar, or writing this Newsletter, happens from the morning till noon. I am not as "with it" in the afternoon and, frankly, around 3:00 p.m. I am ready for a nap. I don't take it, but I don't do the hard stuff in the afternoon. One of the most productive things you can do is to structure your time to your best advantage.
Let others do things for you. I know this is not easy. I am a control freak and I will admit it. I like to do it all myself. Frankly, I don't always trust that other people will do it the way I want it done. However, if I do it all myself, I will be in overload before I know it. My challenge, then, is to not be so invested in the outcome. If a job is done well by someone else, even though it may not be exactly the way I would have done it, it is good enough. If I can live this prinicple, life would be much easier for me. Does this ring true for you?
Create challenges in your work. I know, you are probably thinking, "Is she nuts?" "Like I don't have enough challenges as it is!" Challenge yourself to find new and creative ways of solving problems at work, i.e., clearing up communication issues with your staff or finding new venues for your marketing efforts. When you work long and hard as most of us do, we tend to go on automatic and we can lose the excitement and passion that we once had for our work. Challenging ourselves to be more creative and innovative will bring back that spark.
Monitor any addictive tendencies towards your work. If your spouse, friend or significant other says "let's spend a nice, quiet relaxing weekend doing nothing" and you are thinking "been there, done that" and you would rather be at work, you need to take a look at that. Work can be addictive for many of us who find our jobs the place we get our sense of purpose and self-esteem validated. However, if work always takes priority over our personal lives, we are out of balance. With limited resources and shrinking budgets, many of us are working longer days than we have in the past. This is a fact in business and health care today. But when we do have the time off to enjoy a personal life, and in fact, we don't have one to enjoy, we are definitely out of balance.
Become a mentor. I know this from personal experience. Being a mentor is as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the mentee. I am a mentor for a college student in town who wants to become a professional speaker. When she first approached me, I was hesitant and reluctant to add one more thing to my workday. However, I had a gut feeling that this was something I needed to do, perhaps give back to a profession that has been very good to me. So I agreed to mentor her. She came to my office a few hours each day to learn the business. In her innocence she asked me questions such as "Why is this important to you?" and "Isn't there a better way to do this?" and she forced me to take a critical look at how I was running my office. She helped me take a fresh look at my business, my sense of purpose, and the goals I set for myself. Her questions have been invaluable to me, and this has turned out to be a win-win situation for both of us. I am giving her a real-life look at the business aspect of my profession, and she is helping me see it in a new light. Find someone who would benefit from your years of experience and expertise, and take him/her under your wing and mentor that person. You will both be better off for it.
I have given you a lot to think about, and would love some feedback from you. What strategies or techniques do you have in place to help you LOVE Your Work and LIVE Your Life, Too! Any insights you have would be greatly appreciated. If would like to pass this along to a colleague who may find this of value, feel free to do so. If he/she would like to receive this Newsletter each month, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put the name on our database. Have a wonderful month.
About the Author
Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and health care. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables at the same meeting...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.