That work/life balance thing

19 Jun

Work/life balance?

I just summed up my life at present for a friend I’ve not chatted to in a while: hectic and stressful at work, fun and laid back at home. I’d obviously prefer it to be the latter in both work and home life! But is that ever possible?

When I started this blog I promised myself I would never write about my work and I intend on keeping to that. But I still want to explore whether it’s possible to remain calm and happy in your workplace where on a daily basis you feel a complete lack of control and are overwhelmed by the amount of stressful deadlines/projects that are being dumped on you?

Me being me?

I wonder if me being stressed by work is just me being me? I recently read through my teen/early adulthood diaries. My goodness what a worrier! I was obsessing with working hard enough to pass school exams with 100%; worrying about getting the grades I needed to do the course I wanted; panicking about lesson planning so much I used to work 6 hours a night after work! I see a pattern! Where my school reports consistently say I was ‘conscientious’ I am now beginning to think I was actually unhealthily obsessed! Perhaps of there had been a class on how to handle work stress I’d have studied so obsessively I’d now be the Queen of Laid Back?! But there wasn’t.

Behaviour Patterns

When a stressful work situation occurs I tend to follow the same pattern:

> Immediate internal panic, adrenaline pumping. I do not let this show externally
> I go quiet. This is when people notice something’s not quite right!
> Problem-solving mode. I go over the issue again and again, travelling down different solution routes to see where each one might take me before settling on my preferred option. This is usually an oral exercise with colleagues.
> I then write out notes, plans and sometimes emails which I never send
> I get on with it. Seething perhaps, but I do it.

As this is all happening my emotional self is having a field day: self doubt; worry; panic; anger; frustration. It sometimes seeps out in tears, sometimes in a chat with a friend, sometimes in a frank and honest discussion with my line manager!

Always try your best

Sometimes I just suck it up and get on, putting everything to the back of my mind and just doing. It’s this I kind of wish I could do more often. I sometimes wish I could be less conscientious; care less; just be ‘good enough’. But if ever I do approach a project like this I feel I haven’t done my best and it’s that which is important to me. It’s my classroom mantra,

Me: Do I care if you don’t get top marks?
Class: No, Miss.
Me: Why not?
Class: Cos you only want us to try our very best.

My mam taught me that. I just think I’ve taken it to the extreme! My default is to try my best AT EVERYTHING, AT ALL TIMES! And this can sap one’s energy! Particularly in a work situation where sometimes I just cannot see the rationale behind some actions I am asked to carry out…and the rationale is later areed to have been bollocks. What a waste of time!

Home Life

Thing is, we don’t ever complain about throwing our weight behind the things we do in our private life do we? Can you imagine? If I responded to home life the way I sometimes do to work?

I have planned a day trip to the local theme park. But it’s raining…

> Immediate internal panic, adrenaline pumping. I do not let this show externally
GET A GRIP!
> I go quiet. This is when people notice something’s not quite right!
SERIOUSLY?
> Problem-solving mode. I go over the issue again and again, travelling down different solution routes to see where each one might take me before settling on my preferred option. This is usually an oral exercise with colleagues.
WHERE’S THE NEAREST INDOOR PLAY OR DISNEY DVD?
> I then write out notes, plans and sometimes emails which I never send
WHAT?!
> I get on with it. Seething perhaps, but I do it.
I GET ON WITH IT AND BLOODY WELL ENJOY IT. END OF!

What’s the difference? In ten years time will it really matter? I have found, not least through reading my diaries, that work related stuff is forgotten by the next week, let alone ten years! Personal stuff often IS remembered as we record the fun stuff via photographs and memories made.

Conclusion

Try your best by all means but where work is concerned: get a grip, do it, move on.

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4 Responses to “That work/life balance thing”

  1. Milla June 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Being a perfectionist – which is what you are?? – is exhausting. Is it a defence thing? I know I am. Cannot bear being beholden or found wanting. Hate letting people down. But am far too stressy over far too much. And although none of it will matter in 10 years time, it does now! So don’t be too hard on yourself!

  2. purplepersuasion June 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    I really relate…. part of the reason I got ill recently was that my workload kept increasing and increasing. Logically, therefore, I can’t do all of it, let alone do all of it well. But I don’t know how to do a “just OK” job on a task (because internally I regard this as a half-assed, “not good enough” job) and end up burning myself out and feeling miserable. Not sure how I am going to crack this one, because in some parts of my work, my high standards serve me well and get things done which wouldn’t happen otherwise. I don’t know what the answer is….

    • howwelaughed June 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      We sound very similar. What do we do to keep doing the good stuff and do a ‘good enough’ job elsewhere?

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