Many of us who do corporate work, have a lot of autonomy in our work schedule. For example, In my last job, I was told that I could flex my schedule around standard core hours. I shouldn’t start my day after 9AM, and I needed to make sure I was available until at least 3:30PM. These were the “core hours”. I was expected to work a minimum of 40 hours, but as long as I got the job done I could flex around those hours. This can be a wonderful thing for those of us who have this level of autonomy. For some of us, it opens up the door for chronic overworking.
That was definitely the case for me. I would begin working as soon as I woke up by checking email first thing. Then I would go to the office (often while on a conference call), work a full day, then head home and work again after dinner.
Why? Because boundaries around my work schedule were too loosely defined. The start and end of my day weren’t defined for me by my employer, and I didn’t set my own boundaries around when to work. When I decided it was time to define my schedule more specifically, that’s when my chronic overworking improved.
Have you ever thought about what your schedule boundaries are?
- What time will you start your work day?
- What time will you take breaks, and lunch, and for how long?
- What time will you end your day?
- How many hours will you give to your work every week?
- What type of work will you say yes to, and what type will you say no to?
- Will you bring work home with you? Or will you leave it at “the office” (wherever that happens to be)?
Of course you will need to factor in any job requirements or constraints. Every job is different. There are flexible schedules; salaried jobs; hourly jobs; first shift, second shift, third shift; on-call requirements; a need to meet across timezones, etc. The key is that you decide ahead of time what your work hours are. Put them on your calendar, and then….
DO NOT WORK OUTSIDE OF THESE WORKING HOURS
Treat your work as though the store is closed if it’s outside your boundaries.
If the store is closed, then you can’t work.
Pretend it’s against the law to work outside of the hours you’ve set.
whatever it takes.
Your mind will probably freak out that there is too much to do. When that happens, use the techniques from the last few articles: Write down what you are thinking about. Remind yourself that you are learning how to stop overworking. Remember that you are feeling uncomfortable because overworking is a habit. And ask yourself, if you could think about anything you wanted to, what would you think about?
That’s all for today. Go set your schedule and decide what your boundaries are. Next week, we’ll talk about choices.
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