Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Why Time Management Is Not the Answer To Chronic Overwork

Chapter 7: Secure Your Identity Part 2

The first thing I tried to reduce my hours was a time management course taught by the American Management Association.  I was frantically busy and thought that by managing my time better, my issue would be solved.  It was a great class, and I learned two things.  I flew to New York City for the class, and was the only person with a high tech job.  But everyone in the class had the same personal story: my hobby used to be such and such, but I don’t have time for it anymore because of my job.  This was people in construction, high school yearbook sales and in the media.  My first lesson: it’s not just high tech or Silicon Valley with an overwork issue.  It’s everywhere.

The second thing I learned was to be more efficient.  Less procrastination, better goal setting, and better prioritization.  This class was good.  My life became better for a few months, but pretty soon I was just as busy.  It was a better planned busyness, but my life was once again out of control – all work and no play made Greg an out of shape and crabby boy.

Now, I understand why.  The overwork was a symptom, but was not the root cause.  The root cause was my corporate idolatry.  I had adopted and internalized a company-first value system.  The company was (unconsciously) the most important thing in my life.  So all of the time that I saved from greater efficiency was put back into the company.  Things started to change for me when I reconnected with people.  It came down to my values and priorities.

If you look at how you spend your time and make decisions, what are your priorities?  What is most important to you?

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  1. Greg Marcus says

    This class was the invention of a rule I have – if unhappy with your job, get them to pay for some training. It will get you out of the office, and teach you new skills to help at the current or next job. It worked in this case like a charm. I could have taken the class in San Francisco, but instead I picked a date that brought me to New York, where I could get the training and nourish my soul by visiting my family and best friend. Getting away in and of itself made me more effective at work, and made me a lot happier. So make the most of the training opportunities the job offers!

  2. If you like this post, check out the entire book on Amazon. “Busting Your Corporate Idol” has a complete set of solutions for overcoming chronic overwork, including many not on the blog.


  1. […] you are the type of person who wants to have a balanced life.  And  you can in less than a year. << Previous  Next […]

  2. […] the last few posts, I’ve argued that time management cannot solve a work life balance issue because the root cause is […]

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