Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Article excerpt

Q: I'm putting in eight hours at the office every day and then a further two at home, just to keep on top of what my boss and my team require of me. I know I'm overworking and it's interfering with my home life, but what choice do I have?

A: As organisations try to make do with fewer staff doing just as much (or more) work than before they downsized, the issue you raise is becoming increasingly common. And because we fear losing our jobs if we complain, there's a tendency to just grin and bear it, even though we're aware that in doing so we may be damaging the things most dear to us.

However, it must be acknowledged that managing workload - so as to have the right balance between the demands of our personal and professional lives - has been a perennial challenge for leaders and managers. It is certainly a preoccupation for many of my clients and, over the years, we've discovered a variety of ways of tackling this problem, which help ameliorate the situation, if not eradicate it.

What's required is a combination of strategy and tactics: a strategy to put your work into the big picture of what you want in life, and some tactics that will turn your strategy into a practical reality. Creating the right strategy involves stepping back from the hurly-burly of your working week to decide what your priorities are as an individual. One way of getting a handle on this is to think ahead to five years' time and work out what you would like to be true for you then in every area of life: your work, your love life, your health, your family, your social life. Then work out what implications these intentions have for the way you live now. This clear sense of direction is your strategy. Ideally you'll turn it into a succinct sentence or two that you can use to remind yourself of this bigger picture when you're beset by immediate problems.

Developing your tactics requires an examination of your work context and your personal working style to see where the areas of opportunity lie. To begin your own self-diagnosis, there are two areas to focus on: am I doing the right work and am I working right? For the first, ask yourself: are all the tasks I take on the ones that someone in my role, with my responsibilities, should be doing? If not, and they genuinely need doing, is there someone else I could delegate them to above or below me in the organisation? …

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