No More a Workaholic: 5 Tips to Work Less and Still Get Ahead

No More a Workaholic: 5 Tips to Work Less and Still Get Ahead

Much to the detriment of our health and well-being, many societies celebrate obsessive work habits. Being a "workaholic" has become a badge of honor, one that unfortunately describes too many of today’s working people. In 2014, Gallup reported that the average hours worked by full-time U.S. Workers was 47 hours, and 21% of respondents worked 50-59 hours, and 18% worked 60+ hours. Since that survey was conducted, 25% of survey respondents reported working 45 – 59 hours/week, and 17% reported 60+. These figures show that half of people work over 40 hours a week. But the number of hours worked is not necessarily an indicator of a workaholic. The term is used to refer to a negative behavioral pattern characterized by excessive time working, an inner compulsion to work hard, and a neglect of family and other social relations. Workaholics often strain their personal relationships. If you’re married to your work, how much attention can you give your partner? Instead of quality time with family and friends, workaholics constantly obsess about business, emails, phone calls and reports carried home. They end up not getting enough caring support, recreation, exercise, good meals, and sleep. Research shows how damaging overworking and obsessing about work is to health. Why, then, do we do it? Is there another way to get the work done, get ahead, and avoid the health risks of heart attacks, anxiety, burnout, weight gain, and cigarette and alcohol consumption? From Workaholic to Balanced Michael Grothhaus of FastCompany writes about Lucy Kirkness, a confessed ex-workaholic and founder of her own SEO and digital marketing consultancy, Little Digitalist. Kirkness bought into...
Three Ways to Generate Self-Motivation

Three Ways to Generate Self-Motivation

Whether you’re the boss or working for one, the ability to self-motivate and be highly productive is increasingly important. In today’s competitive job market, you can’t expect to collect a paycheck for just showing up on time. In the 1980s, at least 90 % of people worked for someone else. That’s changed; about one-third of people in U.S. work for themselves, either fully self-employed or as part-time freelancers. In 2006 the Government Accountability Office produced a report that found that 31% of American workers were employed on some kind of contingent basis, including as freelancers, part-time, or temporary workers. According to a 2014 survey by the Freelancers Union together with freelance platform Elance-oDesk, 53 million Americans, or 34% of the population, qualify as freelancers. By 2020, more than 40 percent of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be freelancers, contractors, and temp workers according to a study conducted by software company Intuit. Regardless of employment status, successful people take the initiative, do whatever it takes, and go beyond minimal work requirements. They are self-motivated and able to find unique sources of energy that drive them to high performance. How can you generate self-motivation and energy on those days when you feel tired, overwhelmed, or perhaps even bored? How do you tap into your determination and drive? Isn’t All Motivation Self-motivation? Motivation is a theoretical construct used to explain behavior, the reasons for people’s actions, desires, and needs. Motivation is what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior– as when we form habits. There are many perspectives on motivation theories, and working adults are familiar with rewards programs,...
How Improv Comedy Improves  Conversations at Work

How Improv Comedy Improves Conversations at Work

Conversations at work can often feel more like political debates and battles between egos. People with strong points of view argue and debate without anyone moving toward solutions or common goals. Collaboration is difficult when conversations are competitive. Instead of dialoging together, co-workers try to outdo each other. Without fully listening, people are forming their own thoughts, just waiting their turn to jump in. A common response to new ideas is often “No,” or “Yes, but…” followed by, “That wouldn’t work and I’ll tell you why.” What if we could improve conversation skills so that everyone—supervisors, team leaders or individuals-may connect more by engaging in creative, collaborative dialogue? Instead of debating differences and promoting our own opinions, the discussions would be supportive, friendly and fun. Here’s a suggestion: Simply replacing “No” with a response of “Yes, and…” can make all the difference. This conversational rule comes from improvisational theater. The way improv comedians are trained turns out to be excellent for improving conversations at work as well. The First Rule of Improv Comedy Second City Works has been offering training to organizations for decades now because the same skills required for comedians on stage are also effective for companies. Improvisational training improves people’s ability to process on the fly, relinquish power struggles, create space for everyone to contribute, and learn how to learn from failure. People use the rules of improv to increase their capacity for innovation, creativity and confidence. In the book Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration–Lessons from The Second City, by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton, the authors describe...

Digital Distractions: The War for Your Attention

Are you letting digital devices overwhelm you and eat away at your ability to focus and concentrate? Is technology really saving you time and energy – like it’s supposed to do – or is it running rampant, creating unnecessary work? Most of us are bombarded by messages, texts, alerts, and buzzed throughout the day with rings, chirps, and dings, making it difficult to concentrate on crucial information. With the slightest urge to procrastinate, we’re never more than a click away from diversion. This 24/7 connected culture is taking its toll professionally as well as personally. We waste time, attention, and energy on extraneous information and interactions, staying busy but producing little of real value. The Information Overload Research Group estimates that knowledge workers in the US waste 25% of their time dealing with too much information, costing the economy $997 billion annually. Smart, productive people know they must manage their devices and data, or else information streams will drown them. Digital Addiction or Anxiety In a Harvard Business Review article, “Conquering Digital Distraction,” psychologist Larry Rosen at the University of California, Dominguez Hills, suggests the overuse of digital devices is not so much an addiction as a response to fear-based anxieties, such as the following: FOMO: the fear of missing out FOBO: the fear of being offline Nomophobia: the fear of being out of phone contact In the information age, knowledge has power and those who stay ahead of the data stream are perceived as smarter and more capable. This demands that you manage the content, analyze it, and put it into perspective so you can apply what’s valuable...
Midcareer Crisis …or Opportunity?

Midcareer Crisis …or Opportunity?

Have you ever had a midcareer fantasy where you quit your job and go do something new? Many executives secretly admit to their coaches that they’re contemplating midcareer shifts. They may not actively seek change, but they certainly start imagining it. Of LinkedIn’s 313 million members, 25% are active job seekers; 60% are passive job seekers (not proactively searching for new jobs, but seriously willing to consider viable opportunities). There’s also been a steady increase in self-employed and temporary workers over the last two decades. Entrepreneurship may sound lucrative every time a startup goes public. Regardless of your age, background or professional accomplishments, you’ve probably dreamed about a new career at some point. Midlife is often a time when we reevaluate our goals, aspirations and what truly matters to us in life. In “5 Signs It’s Time for a New Job” (Harvard Business Review, April 2015), Columbia University...

Leaders Develop Others and Themselves

I’m reviewing ideas in the book The Leadership Code: 5 Rules to Lead By, (Harvard Business Press, 2011) Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman. All leaders who want to be effective should function well as a strategist (shape the future), an executor (get things done), a talent manager (bring out the best in people), and as a human capitol developer (prepare for the next generation). And, as a foundation for these roles, an effective leader must excel at their own personal proficiency (they must invest in their own learning and development in order to lead others well). In a previous post I reviewed Rule 1: Shape the future and Rule 2: Make things happen. Here are rules 3, 4, and 5. Rule 3: Engage today’s talent. As a talent manager, you’re in charge of optimizing teams’ performance. You must answer the question, “Who goes with us on our business journey?” You need to know how to identify, build and engage talent for immediate results. How can you bring out the best in people? Do you know which skills are required and where to find talent in your organization? How can you best develop and engage people, guaranteeing that they turn in their best efforts? When you excel at talent management, you generate personal, professional and organizational loyalty. Talent thrives when you provide nurturing and developmental opportunities. Rule 4: Build the next generation. As a human-capital developer, you’ll need to plan for the next generation. You must answer the question, “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?” Just as talent managers ensure shorter-term results through people,...