Once most jobs had built-in limits. For many these days, it’s different. Technology has eroded the boundaries between work and home. Economic insecurity feeds an anxious need to do more. Before you know it, you’re answering emails at midnight. In this environment, the old tricks of time management just don’t cut it.
Enter Julie Morgenstern. In her book, Never Check Email in the Morning, Morgenstern offers an alternative that emphasizes feeling in control. There’s too much to do and always will be, so what matters is retaining the power to choose what to focus on and what to neglect. Otherwise, you’ll be yanked around by others’ priorities. If you are not the boss, you may think you have no control, but you do. Even deciding which instructions to follow, and how, requires decisions.
Here are some practical lessons based on the new 21st century reality.
Balance your balance. Think of work-life balance in a new way. After time at work, you probably come home to “home work” as well. Where’s the balance? In other words, just because you’re not at work, don’t assume you’re recharging. The key is to build in elements on the “home” side that leave you feeling refreshed and reenergized.
Never check email in the morning. At least, don’t check it first thing! Email is an energy zapper. By altering when you check your email, you’ll be changing the rhythm of the day. Morgenstern suggests fixed inbox-checking times, such as 10am, 2pm and 5pm. This way you’ll be in charge, instead of email being in charge of you.
Limit work time. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available. The reverse is also true: shave 30 minutes off your work day and you’ll achieve the same or more. Long hours may make you feel more diligent, but in reality you’re probably not more effective. If you can, make social plans for right after work. For example, if you promise a friend you’ll meet at 6 pm for yoga or a cocktail, you may find you’re more effective all day.
Experiment with techniques to fix the mismatch between yourself and your work. You may realize that your job is “unfixable,” but you can still use these techniques to find relief.
Source: Psychologies Magazine, May 2013, p. 28