Monthly Archives: April 2010

Stressful Jobs

Last week I moved into a new office, a loft style space with 12 foot ceilings and my company name (Work Life Balance Consulting Group) on the door. The space is large enough that I can teach work life balance and stress management workshops onsite for about 15 people, and quite enough where I can get some great writing done. To my surprise the fire inspector showed up on my second day to take a look at the space, happily I passed inspection with flying colors. What was interesting about the experience was the conversation I had with the fire inspector on the topic of workplace stress.

Even though a new study posted on CNBC ranked firefighters as having the most stressful job, my firemen told a different story. He said most fire fighters are not that stressed in the same way corporate workers are and that they have great work life balance for the most part, even though they have incredibly stressful jobs. Most of them pick these jobs not for the compensation but because they want to be of service and they want a flexible schedule, sure it’s hard living together with 10+ men sometimes, but the family/brotherhood aspects create a second type of compensation or payoff. My fireman friend went on to say that for highly stressful situations, ones that involve kids, intense hours still resulting in death and badly burned bodies the firemen in his district get same day stress counseling. They get together, talk about their feelings, vent a little, unload, debrief and move on. According to him, most of his peers deal with stress incredibly well because their jobs help put the little things into perspective.

Later that day I began to wonder if mangers in corporate America talked more openly about stress and the stress brought on by change if more employees would feel less stressed because their experiences and events would be out in the opened and acknowledge. What would happened if after a reorganization or layoff a work group did some sort of stress coaching?


Toxic Managers

A big part of work life balance is the people in your life, both in and out of work. When it comes to work, your relationship with your manager is extremely important when trying to set a stable balanced environment. Some good questions to ask yourself: Do you like your manager? Are you learning anything from them? How do they make you feel? What do you like/dislike about their management style?

Unfortunately not are bosses are inspiring or do their part to create a healthy working relationship. Having a toxic relationship with your manager can cause great amounts of stress and instability in your work life that will carry over to the rest of your life. I came across this article on Yahoo about how to recover from the “bad boss blues”, there are some good nuggets in here if this is a situation you are currently facing.


Listen to Your Body

The mind and the body are connected. We listen to our mind when it tells our body to do something, like walk, talk, jump, run type and so forth. Why then do we ignore our body when it tells our mind we are in need of a break and too much stress hormone is engulfing our body? I recently found a very simple power article by Women’s Day that covers 9 warning signs for stress in your body, that apply to men and men.


Multitasking is for Suckers

I didn’t use to believe that multitasking was a waste of time. I prided myself on being an amazing multitasker, able to juggle many things at once and hold multiple thoughts in my head while performing different actions. I thought I saved time. What was hard to admit was most times I ended up revisiting many of the tasks I was doing to finish them or fix them because I wasn’t fully completing any task.

In my research journey on work life balance I have found countless studies that prove multitasking is another way of saying “divided attention” and is a waste of time. There is something to be said for what I call level one multitasking which is more around the flow or organizing your day or your process in an effective manner. Like starting the laundry before you cook dinner or printing a long document out while you go grab a cup of coffee. A new study in Journal of Science reports that the brain actually “splits” in half to multitask and to do anything more than two things at once can result in irrational decisions because they are only being made with half of the brain.

I don’t know about you, for me I prefer to use my whole brain when making decisions. This article is a good reminder to stop and think even more when I’m tempted to divide my attention and do more than two things at a time.