Work/Life Balance

Finishing The Year Strong

The year is quickly coming to an end, and you may be in a hurry to start anew with the beginning of 2009. But, right now you have an opportunity to finish strong, giving you a better chance for a smooth start next year. Here are three ways you can make the most out of your time before heading home for the holidays.

Prioritize your assignments. Figure out what projects are most important to complete now, which ones are simple and due soon, and which ones require more time or energy but are due later on. Make sure to write each deadline on a calendar, and then pencil in when you’ll actually work on each project. This will help you clearly see if you have enough time to complete all of your projects or if you need to ask for help to get them done on time.

Schedule a break. The end of the year can be hectic and sometimes stressful when you’re juggling holidays, shopping, parties, and vacations in addition to your workload. So, after you list all of your tasks on your calendar, look to see if you can squeeze in some time for yourself. Whether it’s setting a lunch date with an old friend, spending an afternoon at the park, or taking a day off to relax, plan some alone time to help you de-stress. This will help you refocus on your priorities at work and complete them on time when you return to the office.

Keep a positive attitude. Staying positive through the end of the year can help you focus on your tasks and get each job done well. A poor attitude will just make your tasks seem overwhelming, so try to stay upbeat. Even though times may be stressful as you’re trying to finish up your annual projects, keeping a positive attitude will help you – and your co-workers – enjoy the rest of the year. 

Before you know it, the end of the year will be here. So, use these three tips now to help you enjoy the last few weeks of the year while still getting your work done on time.

Balancing Work and School: 3 Tips to Be Successful at Both

With the uncertainty of the nation’s economy looming over the heads of every American worker, many are planning to go back to school to expand their career opportunities.

According to a recent survey by Rutgers University, 61% of 1,000 Americans surveyed said they would like more education and training to be more efficient at their jobs.

But some might find it difficult to balance work life with school life. If you’re one of the many individuals wanting to hit the books while continuing your career, check out these tips to help you juggle both and come out on top.

Create a Schedule. Time management is essential to be successful in both your career and at school. Mark all your commitments down on a calendar and create a weekly routine that you will be able to stick to. For example, schedule time to study and schedule time to socialize. Having specific time slots each week for all your commitments will help you form healthy habits and stay on task.

Communicate with Others. Let others know the elements of your schedule. Include your family, friends, co-workers, and superiors. You want to make sure people are aware of your commitments so they can schedule around you if needed.

Be Organized. To help decrease the overwhelming feeling of having too much to do, create a weekly to-do list to help you prioritize and stay on top of your assignments. Along with the calendar you’ve made detailing your schedule and deadlines for work and class assignments, make a list of everything you want to accomplish for the week and make an effort to check something off every day.

It’s no easy task, but using these tips can help you successfully navigate through work and school and avoid becoming overwhelmed by having too much to do.

Job Burnout: Part 4 – Beating Job Burnout

We know what job burnout is and what causes it. So if you recognize that you’re in that state, you can finally address your situation. Try using these tips to help you break away from burnout.

Avoid boredom – Jobs and tasks can get boring after awhile if you let them. If a job offers little challenge or becomes incredibly uninteresting after a while, job burnout can set in. To combat this, talk to your boss about a possible role rotation or for new assignments and responsibilities. Also, put the monotonous tasks together and get them out of the way at the beginning of the day. This will free up the rest of the day for you to do things you enjoy working on, as well as prevent the constant dread of anticipating the unwanted tasks.

Don’t overwork – People who have a tough time saying “no” to anything work-related leave themselves exposed to the threat of job burnout. Although you try to project the sense that you’re a team player and take on others tasks, you can quickly begin to feel like a doormat being stepped on. It’s OK to help a colleague when the need arises, but learn to say “no” when you need to so your workload is manageable.

Leave work at the office – Bringing the stresses of work back home only compounds your problems. Take your time away from the office to recharge your mind and focus attaining on a great work-life balance – especially on the relationships closest to you. Joining a community organization or increasing your social life can help offset the constant worries at work.

Exercise and stay healthy – You may wonder why your health is a concern for your work-life, but a major sign of job burnout is chronic fatigue. Exercise and a healthy diet will help you keep your energy supply ample while making it through another day.

Take a vacation – Sometimes the best remedy is to just get away from the work scene for awhile, so remove yourself completely from it. Take a trip if you can afford it, or go on your own “stay-cation.” Everyone – from the president of a company to a secretary to someone who’s self-employed – needs a little time away from work.

Make a career change – If you are truly feeling miserable and everything that you’ve tried has only been a quick fix, realize it may be time for a change. You don’t have to be stuck in a rut at the same job. A career change – or simply switching departments within the same company – can infuse you with new vigor. If you simply don’t know where to start, try a staffing agency. Through taking a variety of temporary assignments, you can experience different fields of work. And if you do find a job you like, many temporary positions lead to permanent work.

Though it may seem impossible to escape burnout, try using these tips and see what happens. Make the effort now to get out of job burnout, and you’ll be happier and healthier sooner than you think.

Job Burnout: Part 3 – Signs and Symptoms

Do you know your burnout level or if you’re in danger of job burnout. The impact to job burnout can grow exponentially and burn you out well before you realize it. By knowing the signs and symptoms in advance of burnout, you can avoid or prevent further damage.

Stress vs. Burnout
While unrelenting stress can contribute to burnout, stress alone isn’t the same as burnout. To be able to tackle your misery head on, it’s important to be able to differentiate between the two to identify if you’re experiencing job burnout or just stress.

With stress, there is an overwhelming feeling and an inability to cope. Stress primarily deals with “too much” – too much piled on, too much to do, too much to handle. The effects of stress often lead to psychological and physical issues, such as heart problems and high blood pressure.

On the other hand, job burnout is about “not enough.” As a result of unrelenting stress, someone burned out feels empty, has little to no motivation, and simply doesn’t care. The effects of burnout translate to emotional issues, such as apathy and depression.

One important difference between job burnout and stress is that you’re usually aware of stressful situations, but job burnout can be present for weeks or months before you notice it. When experiencing workplace stress, you tend to care too much, but with burnout, there is a constant pessimistic attitude. This is usually how you can differentiate a few bad workdays from job burnout.

Causes of Professional Burnout
Constant stress isn’t the only attributing factor to job burnout. When you dealt with stress in school, friends were readily available and “the light at the end of the tunnel” (graduation) was always in sight. In the professional world, the next step is hard to visualize. Unrealistic goals – whether set by you or by others – and the inability to constantly achieve them can result in job burnout. Even if employees enjoy the work that they do, they’re at risk when they feel underappreciated and underpaid. Matters out of their control also cause professional burnout including – being pushed around by the office bully, undermined by co-workers, or micromanaged by your boss.

Though these factors can contribute to burnout, there’s no one combination. It’s different for everyone. However, there are some tried and true solutions for dealing with it. Don’t miss our next post to learn more.

Job Burnout: Part 2 – 12 Questions to Diagnose Burnout

Job burnout can be hard to handle. Not only is it emotionally exhausting, it can impact your health and performance as well. So, how do you know when it’s the real deal? Ask yourself the following questions to find out.

  • Are you more cynical, negative, critical, or sarcastic at work?
  • Do you have to drag yourself to work and have trouble starting once you get there?
  • Do you lack the energy to stay consistently productive?
  • Do you no longer feel satisfaction from your achievements or do you question the value of the tasks that you perform?
  • Are you feeling under-compensated for your work?
  • Are you disillusioned about your career?
  • Are you constantly fatigued?
  • Do you lose your temper easily?
  • Are you thinking about a career change?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed or stressed most of the time?
  • Do you feel like you have little or no control over things at work or at home?
  • Are you just “going through the motions” to get through your shift?

If you’ve answered yes to four or more of the questions, chances are, you’re bound for job burnout if you’re not already there. In our next blog, we’ll discuss tactics to avoid and deal with professional burnout.

Job Burnout: Part 1 – Defining Job Burnout

The alarm rings again, and you fight to not hit snooze one more time. You’re dreading another day doing the same old thing at the same old job. Have you been finding it harder and harder to drag yourself out of bed and have the energy to go to work? At some point, most people – in every level of a company from a receptionist to a CEO or owner – find themselves victims of job burnout.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

The term job burnout is described as an emotional burnout experienced in a job or career-path. Sufferers of job burnout can experience chronic anxiety, depression, prolonged stress, lack of motivation, and/or hopelessness – among other serious problems. It’s important to deal with job burnout not just because of your personal happiness, but for your career and financial future as well.

Are you headed for job burnout?  The next post can help you determine if you should be alarmed.

Finding Time to Workout at Work

As you head back to work after all the holiday festivities, do you find yourself moving at a slightly slower pace? Are the pants that you wore before the holiday celebrations fitting just a little bit tighter than before? If so, then it’s time to start thinking about shedding some of those extra pounds and regaining some energy for the new year.

Many people want to get back in shape but don’t have the time because of work, family and other activities. There are, however, some simple exercises that you can do while you work that will help you increase your energy and health and decrease your waistline.

By following some of these tips, you can jump into the new year energized and healthy.

  • Instead of taking the elevator, try taking the stairs. Just taking those few extra steps will increase the number of calories you burn each day.
  • Try taking a brisk walk around the building a few times during your breaks instead of lounging around talking with co-workers. Walking increases energy levels and helps reduce stress.
  • Stretch your back, legs and arms several times throughout the day to help increase circulation and prevent muscle fatigue. Stretching your body helps relieve muscle tension and increases blood circulation to various parts of your body giving you more energy.
  • Lift small hand weights while sitting at your desk, talking on the phone or walking around the building. Lifting weights helps increase your muscle mass which in turn helps your body burn fat.
  • If you work in a cubicle, try sitting on an exercise ball while at your desk. This will help strengthen your abs and help your posture.
  • If you live close to work, you might want to try riding your bike or walking to the office. Or, if you have to drive to work, park further away from the entrance.

Trying to get back into shape after the holidays can be overwhelming, especially when you have to work every day. Following these tips can help jumpstart your exercise routine, increase your energy and lose those unwanted pounds.