Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Three Things I Did To Become Unstuck

This week I have been in a January Funk.  I don’t exactly know why, but I have felt a significant malaise.  Downright crappy.  A two week layoff from writing often makes me feel that way.  I’m not an “instant-on” type of person, so coming back to a series of deadlines for my blog has been an interesting challenge.

A funk is deadly, at least to me.  I like to get things done.  When I’m in a funk, it’s harder to get things done.  Then, I get really pissed off because the funk is preventing me from getting things done, which makes it even harder to get things done.  I read something I wrote while in the funk – lets just say I’ve read Nigerian chain letters that were better written.

Tonight, I feel like I”m through the funk.  Here are the things I did to get out of it.

1. I called a good friend.  He gets it.  He likes to get things done too, and he and I commiserated about how we have to endure funks from time to time. I reminisced about how I dealt with funks when I was a graduate student.  I used to do mini DNA preps, even when I didn’t need the DNA.  Why?  Because they always work.  He said: Greg you need to find a mini-prep equivelent for your life today.  Keep going, and things will work out.

2.  I ate massive amounts of chocolate.

3. I went to my writing group that meets every other Tuesday night.  We read each other’s work and give feedback.  They read the Nigerian chain letter piece of trash I wrote, and didn’t correct the grammar.  In fact, we had an interesting discussion about the underlying story.  One person in particular really connected with the anecdote I shared.

The cliche about 90% of life is just showing up?  It’s really true.


How To Leave Work Early When Chronically Overworked

Build Your Community Part 6

In his book Happy, Ian K. Smith argues that happy people have more close relationships, the kind of friendships that take time to build and maintain. According to Smith, (who is quoting the research of Martin Seligman and others) “a strong social network is also associated with lower levels of stress and a longer life span.”[i]

For many in the corporate world, (including myself at one time) corporate idolatry makes close friendships outside of work hard to find.  This is the position Sue found herself in, when she worked herself until she was sick. (See this post in Chapter 6)

Smith advises that someone without a network of friends should “put themselves in a position to meet new people.”  Interestingly, this is exactly how Sue told me she started to get healthy again.

Sue told me her decision to make a change came on a business trip.   Free from the daily meetings that started at 7 AM and often went until 6, she realized that her life did not have time for anything else, and she needed “to go out and get a breath of fresh air.”  Sue developed a deliberate strategy to connect with other people.

She said, “I’m not a runner or biker and I needed something to do that I really enjoyed.  I like to learn, but I didn’t want to go back to school. I wanted to find something that would challenge me in a way that wasn’t drowning like work.  I started photography, I like food, and I love gardening.  I started getting involved in my community which is important to me, e.g. a committee to get a new park in town, which connected me to some other committees and projects.”

But it was Urban Farming  that really caught her passion.  “I change out of my skirt and Santana-Row shoes on Friday afternoon and go.  There is one woman who I hang out with.  We have become really close friends and I would never have met her in the tech industry.”
One advantage to leaving work early for a fun activity – the other people there also have made connecting with other people a higher priority than their company.  Those are just the people to hang out with.
You might also like: Discover How I Avoided Burnout

[i] Happy: Simple Steps To Get the Most Out Of Life by Ian K. Smith.  St Martin’s press.  (2010) p 190