HOW DO YOU PREVENT OR RECOVER FROM BURNOUT?

                You CAN do it! The BEST ways to BEAT BURNOUT!

It s not easy. It requires an intense commitment on your part to change your behavior for the better, and the healthier. It will require the same devotion and willpower as quitting smoking or going on a diet. However, don t try too hard. You may burn out by trying too hard to get better.
The following activities can help prevent you from becoming a burnout victim. They can also aid you in recovering from a burnout you already are experiencing. In following these guidelines, do not try to change too many of your behaviors at once. That will result in a quick case of frustration and a reversion back to your comfortable old behaviors. Attempt one new behavioral change at a time. Do not try an additional new behavior until you have comfortably mastered the previous one. In this way, your new healthy behaviors will last.
1. Limit the number of hours you work. The classic burnout victims work excessively long hours—6 or 7 days per week. Even when they’re home or out socializing, they can’t stop thinking and talking business. They wear themselves down physically and mentally.
Make a firm commitment to cut your daily workload down by one hour per week, each and every week until you re down to 8‑9 hours per day, five days per week. Don t say that’s impossible. It certainly is if you learn how to manage your time better.
2. Set goals—write them down. Most burnout victims work so hard and so long because they get bogged down in too many trivial tasks. Very often the really important jobs, the ones with a high payoff never get done. This lack of task perspective is very often the direct result of not having clearly defined goals in writing.
By knowing what is truly important to you in your life, and by having clearly written goals and action plans, you are better able to differentiate the high payoff tasks from the low payoff tasks. Then, if you spend most or all of your time doing your high priority tasks, you’ll probably accomplish twice as much in half the time.
3. Learn to say “No!” Burnout victims have a difficult time telling people they are not able to do another task. They feel it shatters their omnipotent image. Ironically, taking on too much puts so much pressure on the burnout victims that the overall quality of their work decreases and their superman image suffers anyway. When you feel you have more than enough to keep you busy, politely refuse to take on more.
4. Learn to Delegate. One of the major problems afflicting burnout victims is their inability and unwillingness to delegate tasks to others. They must resist the tendency to do things themselves. Train others, especially your secretary or assistant, to do your routine and low priority tasks. Also delegate the right to make mistakes. That’s how others learn. Give them their space to do things on their own. You should be spending your time on planning and completing your high‑priority tasks.
5. Exercise. One of the most effective ways to relieve tension and stress is through exercise. It not only helps you avoid a burnout episode, it also helps you circumvent many other physical ailments. Workaholics and super achievers complain that they do not have the time to exercise. On the contrary, taking time out of a busy schedule to exercise usually makes you feel less fatigued while you’re working and actually increases your level of awareness and productivity on the job. Force yourself to get at least 200 minutes of physical activity per week spread out over at least five separate days.
6. Break your routines. Don’t follow too rigid a schedule. Too much structure gets you into a rut. In the field of nutrition, the experts recommend rotational dieting. That simply means not eating the same foods all the time and adding variety and flexibility to your eating habits. The same advice holds true for your daily and weekly work schedule. Purposely go out of your way to do some things differently, to do some new things, and to do them at different times.
7. Try to relax. Kick back every so often during each day. Let your mind wander, not thinking about anything in particular, and especially not about business. These are necessary recharge breaks. Take long hot baths at home to relieve tension. You will find that this is an ideal way to relax both your mind and body.
8. Eat lunch AWAY from the office. This is an excellent way to accomplish many of the above suggestions. Walking to and from the restaurant or the park is an excellent source of exercise. Eating lunch outside or in the park is an Ideal way to relax and cleanse your mind. Leaving the office for meals breaks the routine of being in the office all day.
9. Take vacations. Most burnout victims rarely take vacations. They have too much work to do. Even when their spouse forces them to go on a vacation, they load one suitcase with books, reading materials, and work. If the vacation consists of more than three days in the same location, burnout victims start climbing the walls. They’re on a withdrawal from work.
If you react in the above manner, take a series of three‑day vacations throughout the year and discipline yourself not to bring any work with you. Vacation to relax, not simply to work in another environment.
10. Spend more time with your family. I realize not everyone is married nor has a family. Those that do should schedule their family members into their appointment book and respect the entry as they would any other business appointment. Eat at least one meal per day with your family. Try to keep business calls to a minimum at your home. Spend one evening and one‑half day per week doing something with your family as a group (TV watching doesn’t count!). Get to really know the people who are very important to you in your life.
11. Take time for yourself. Get away by yourself intermittently. Spend some time alone getting to know yourself. Meditate. Relax. Read light, enjoyable material. Pursue a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with your line of work, but is relaxing and enjoyable. Treat yourself—you deserve it.
12. Don’t take life too seriously. Believe it or not, you’re not indispensable. Not to the world. Not to your country. Not even to your company. Everything will go on with or without you. Let up on yourself and others. Yes, you do make a contribution—maybe even a major one. But don’t overestimate your own value and worth. Do what you do and do it well. But, don’t kill yourself in the process, because then you’re of no value to the people and causes for which you were working. Take care of yourself and enjoy all aspects of your life—not just work. Everyone will be the better for it, especially you.
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TIME-Are you managing it well?

Effective and Efficient Time Management
Time is nature’s greatest “force.” Nothing can stop it; nothing can alter it. Unlike the wind, it cannot be felt. Unlike the sun, it cannot be seen. Yet, of all nature’s forces, time has the most profound effect on us.
Time remains constant, but our perception of it changes. When we focus on it, it slows down. When we turn our backs on it, it speeds up. Our illusion makes us think it is something tangible. We arrange it, divide it up, and give some to our friends. Sometimes we feel it is precious, at other times we waste it. We give it the power to heal when we say, “Time heals all wounds.” It can also kill, as when we live stressful lives because we “never have enough time.” On a day‑to‑day basis, nothing is defined and redefined in our minds as much as time. It’s a wonder we can still recognize it!
Herein lies our power. Because things are as we perceive them, we can choose to see time as a manageable commodity and live our lives according to that assumption. This is one of the secrets of successful people ‑ they work at shaping those things that others think are uncontrollable.
EFFICIENT VS. EFFECTIVE
In discussing time management, some people argue, “What we need to be is more efficient with our time!” Other people claim, “Let’s not worry so much about efficiency, let’s be more effective!”
Efficiency means doing things right. Effectiveness means doing the right things. Working efficiently is doing things with the least amount of wasted effort. Efficiency gets you from point A to point B via a straight line. Inefficiency goes in circles. Effectiveness means doing the things that yield results.
Many people, when learning about time management, ask the question, “Which should I work on first, efficiency or effectiveness?”  In theory and practice, the best answer is to improve your effectiveness first. It’s much better to aim your sights at the result than to worry about the process. Too often we get bogged down in the means and lose sight of the end.

My Way or the Highway-Is Your Thinking Too Rigid?

                                                                                                        Rigidity

Rigidity can be described as holding the attitude: My way or the highway. It can also be disguised in such sayings as: “That’s just the way it is,” or “Those are the rules, mam,” or “That’ll never work.” Do those kinds of sayings ever come from your mouth? Those statements are indicative of a kind of mental paralysis. No new information is being allowed in.
Rigidity can be cloaked in a variety of ways that appear attractive, on the surface. You may value the fact that you’re a high achiever, a perfectionist, and a take-charge or no-nonsense person. And you should take pride in your accomplishments. But an inflexible, rigid attitude can get in the way of even greater accomplishments and a larger sphere of influence. Maybe you pride yourself on being cautious; you don’t like to leap before you look carefully. That’s fine except when your caution turns into an aversion to taking any risks at all.
Maybe you believe that you know the best way to get from Point A to Point B, or the best way to make a chili barbecue, or the best way to solve the recycling problems in your community. Everyone wants you on their committee – except when it turns out that “the best way” is the only way you know how to do that particular thing, and you’re not willing to learn anything new about it.
One of the things we can say with certainty about life is that everything changes. It’s a task for all of us to keep figuring out where we need to hold the line on what we know and where we need to let go of the rigidity that keeps us from learning new things.
The fact is that at least since the beginning of the decade, there’s been a greater emphasis on the value of collaboration, cooperation and interdependent networks of people. Who would have ever thought that archrivals IBM and Apple Computer would ever collaborate? But they have! Remember the hi-tech commercials during the Super Bowls in the mid 1980’s? Everyone watched to see what new outrageous ad Apple had come up with to sling at IBM. They weren’t rivals, they were enemies. Then they began to see the value of collaboration. At least to the point of being able to work on joint projects.
More and more companies are seeing the value of breaking up departments that used to compete against each other. Instead they’re putting people into teams with shared leadership and a mandate to cooperate with each other. As those companies move from a hierarchical structure to one that’s team-based you hear the same lament over and over: “Some of the people who’ve been around here for a while can’t seem to make the transition. They’re too “set in their ways,” they have too much of the old “command and control” style in their veins.”
If you suspect that you may have an underlying layer of rigidity in your personality that prevents you from being flexible where flexibility would be an asset, here are some tips. First and foremost, concentrate on listening to what others have to say. Not just passive listening, that is, hearing the words. But learn what’s known as “active listening” where you do more than simply pay attention. Active listening means you suspend your judgments about what the other person is saying while you listen. Active listening means that you are so clear about what the other person is saying that you could paraphrase it back to them in a way they would agree that’s what they said.
Being willing to listen without making judgments takes work. You can tell you’re NOT doing it when little thoughts like “that’s crazy,” or “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about” pop up in your head as you listen. But if you’re able to achieve the ability to listen first, and then decide how you feel about something, much more information and new insight will filter into your brain. That’s because the rigid guard at the door of your mind has been asked to take a break.
Another way to combat rigidity is to admit a mistake when you’ve made one. That’s so easy to say, and so hard to do! Start by admitting it to yourself. “Darn it, I made a mistake!” That’s the first step. Some rigid people can’t even do that much. The next step is to say it out loud to someone who’s affected by that mistake. “Sorry, but it looks like I’ve made a mistake here.”
And one more tip: remember that in many things, the process is as important as the goal. HOW you arrive at a result in a work project or on a community committee or in your family affects everyone involved. And the process has a direct impact on the success of the next undertaking. Your ability to be flexible, to let go of rigid expectations, to allow for disagreements, are all measures of your maturity in those situations.

Ambiguity-How do you deal with it?

Difficulty in Dealing with Ambiguity

 

“Ambiguous” means having several possible meanings, interpretations or outcomes. Some people don’t like ambiguous situations where new variables can pop up any time, or where novel outcomes emerge rather than being designed from the beginning. It has to be either/or. One way or the other. They get nervous in the face of the unknown. They’ll say: “Let’s nail this down.” “Let’s choose one and go for it,” way before an idea has been fully developed. At some point that approach may be necessary. But rigid people like to get closure on one meaning, one interpretation, one outcome, as early as possible. And often that approach leaves out the contributions of other people. It certainly leaves out the possibility of novelty and serendipity.

We’re all being asked to tolerate more ambiguity these days. Technology is changing the nature of the work we do, or in some cases, whether we have any work to do. For the past 20+ years we’ve been experiencing tremendous ambiguity in gender roles – what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman.

If you’re in a role of leadership or responsibility, there’s no doubt you must make room for surprises and uncertain outcomes. Imagine being told in 1962 that the Soviets had nuclear missiles positioned on Cuba aimed at the United States, and that they might fire them, or they might not. John F. Kennedy faced that ambiguity. Imagine yourself on March 9, 1965, leading several thousand demonstrators in a march for civil rights in Selma, Alabama, where only two days earlier, hundreds of people had been beaten and attacked by police dogs for doing the same thing. Martin Luther King, Jr. faced a very ambiguous situation.

Fortunately, most of us don’t have to deal with THAT level of uncertainty. If you’re a person who has trouble dealing with ambiguity, you like to do routine things with familiar people who behave in traditional ways. Changes and surprises make you uncomfortable because they alter the routine.

If you recognize yourself in this discussion and feel that developing a greater tolerance for ambiguity would allow you the flexibility you’d like to have, here are some tips. Begin to stretch yourself a bit by taking on different duties and activities beyond your comfort level.

In other words, consciously introduce some novelty and ambiguity into your life.

  1. Avoid doing things the same way every time.
  2. Realize that there’s almost always more than one way to accomplish a task.
  3. When you encounter a situation that has several possible outcomes, don’t try to avoid it.
  4. Take the time to consider each possible outcome, from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic.

Tell us, how do you deal with ambiguity?

 

It’s A New Year, A New You-What is Your Vision for the Future?

VISION

 

I think it’s easy to see why someone who has the power to imagine, to be creative, to posit alternatives in a coherent way that others can understand, is going to be more influential than someone who can’t. There’s been a lot of discussion and refinement of the notion of “vision” in the past ten years or so. A vision is your picture of a desired state of affairs at some point in the future. A vision provides a way for people to agree on goals and how they’ll be met. With so much change going on, it’s become more and more necessary to envision the way we’d like things to be. Without a vision, we get lost in the trivia of daily life, or swamped by the feeling of being out of control. Let’s imagine there are 3 people looking at an open field just outside the city limits.

 

  • One person sees a baseball diamond for kids to play on.
  • Another sees a mini-mall with convenient little shops to stop at on the way home to the suburbs.
  • The third person sees the perfect place for low-income housing.

 

Those 3 are very different visions. Yet, assuming that this plot of land is waiting to be developed, someone’s vision will win out.

My point is, nothing happens without a vision to guide the way. We all have visions. They’re usually born from some need. You have books and papers lying all over the floor, and you envision a nice new bookcase against the wall.

You can see that your mail room personnel are very busy at certain times of the day, and at other times they’re all sitting around telling jokes. So you envision a system where their work is scheduled in a much more productive way.

When the senior management at the Steelcase Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, decided to reorganize their company, they began with a vision of a company where everyone’s talents and energies were fully engaged. They decided that the traditional corporate building they were in wouldn’t allow for that, so they envisioned a flat, spacious headquarters. Construction on the Corporate Development Center began in 1986. When it opened in 1989 it had seven levels with large areas where multi-discipline teams could meet. There were no separate departments for different functions. Executives are clustered around the center of the building where everyone has easy access to them. And there’s even an escalator so people can talk to each other while changing floors. What’s important to note is that the Steelcase’s Corporate Development Center began with a vision of how they wanted things to be.

How would you go about developing a vision that would be attractive to other people? Here’s the starting point: “What-if” questions. “What-if questions get your imagination and thinking going. One thing that all creative thinkers know is that you don’t limit yourself at this first stage. Don’t assume any rules or limitations. Don’t say: “What if we could pull off this project with only 4 people,” and then immediately stop yourself by saying: “No, that’s stupid. It’ll never work.” In A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger von Oech suggests you start the juices flowing by asking yourself: “What if gravity stopped for one second every day?” What would happen to oceans and rivers? How would houses be designed? What would happen if you were eating an ice cream cone during that one second?

That’s a great example of suspending the rules and allowing yourself to play in the realm of the possible. Von Oech calls it “getting into a germinal frame of mind.” That’s like a garden bed with rich, black dirt where seeds get a good start on germination. What-if questions allow you to free yourself from deeply ingrained assumptions you have about how things are usually done.

Von Oech also addresses the issue of the impractical. Sure, a lot of your early “what-if” speculations are going to be utterly impractical. But embedded within the impractical is often a seed of practicality. He cites one example where an engineer at a large chemical company did a “what-if by suggesting that they mix gunpowder into their paint products. Then when the surface needed repainting, they could blow the old paint off of it.

Now that’s not very practical. But it did open up the idea of having something within the paint that allowed for it to be removed easily. The engineer’s what-if question opened up everyone’s thinking about putting additives in the paint. One additive would be in the paint when you bought it. It would be inert until another substance was spread on the surface. When the two chemicals interacted – bingo (!) the paint would come off easily. The company went to work on making that vision a reality.

Again, the point is stopping your critical judge from coming in too early on the process. The part of each of us that says: “That’ll never work,” is always present, ready to speak up. Let the creative, innovative visionary in you come out and play.

Visions are born for all sorts of reasons: to make money, to end a problem, to improve a situation, to create an alternative, to have more fun. Some people have visions where other people see only problems or nothing at all.

What would you build on that empty field outside of town? Let’s help each other this year-what’s your vision? Share and we’ll pass along a gift to the first 10 who do!

 

What Behavioral Personality Do You Have?

Maximizing Your Adaptability

 

You remember The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Well, that’s a wonderful axiom, as far as it goes. But not everybody wants to be treated the same way you do!

 

I think the real intent of the Golden Rule is to treat others the way they would like to be treated. Hence, I’ve come up with what I think is a newer, more sensitive version of The Golden Rule-or what I call The Platinum Rule:

 

“DO UNTO OTHERS AS THEY’D LIKE DONE UNTO THEM.”

 

The Platinum Rule, distilled to its essence, equates to respect for others. It’s an attempt to break down the them-versus-us mentality and concentrate on the “us.” It’s a potent tool for helping build rapport by meeting the other person’s needs and your own.

 

In fact, along with behavioral scientist Dr. Michael J. O’Connor, I wrote a book that examined the personality styles much more deeply. The Platinum Rule (Warner Books, 1996) describes four core behavioral, or personality, types:

 

Directors are forceful, take-charge people. Their impatience-and sometimes their insensitivity-may make you wince. Driven by an inner need to get results, they’re more concerned with outcomes than egos.

 

The friendly, enthusiastic Socializers are fast-paced people who thrive on admiration, acknowledgment, and applause. They love to talk, and while strong on fresh concepts, they’re usually weak on execution.

 

Relaters are the teddy bears of the human zoo. Rather easygoing, people-oriented, and slow-paced, Relaters tend to drag their feet when it comes to change, preferring routine ways of doing things.

 

Thinkers are results-oriented problem solvers. They seek results in a quiet, low-key way. Thinkers are analytical, persistent, independent, and well organized, but often seen as aloof, picky, and critical.

 

Here are some added tips to help you practice adaptability

 

1. Reach out and touch someone. Think of a “difficult” person with whom you’d like to communicate better. What motivates that person? For a Director, it’s control; for a Socializer, recognition; for a Relater, camaraderie; and for a Thinker, analysis. What can you do that will reinforce what this person needs most?

 

2. Don’t be too quick to judge. Being able to recognize the styles is important, but be careful about judging someone’s style too quickly and making irrevocable decisions based on your perceived compatibility. Your knowledge of the styles should expand your relationships, not limit them. So don’t use The Platinum Rule to stereotype or pigeonhole others.

 

3. Use self-knowledge as an insight, not an excuse. By knowing your style, you’ll see your strengths and weaknesses as others do. But don’t use this as a crutch to justify unacceptable behavior, thinking thoughts like, “I’m a Director. So I’m naturally impatient and domineering.” Or “It’s okay if I don’t follow up because I’m an Socializer.”

 

4. Learn to motivate by style. Whenever you face a task-at the office or in the home-it’s likely that a big chunk of your effort involves attempting to motivate others. You can use your knowledge of The Platinum Rule to inspire each style:

Directors: Be straightforward: Here’s what’s wrong, here’s how it came about, here’s how it’s likely to affect us.

Socializers: Explain that while meeting this challenge may be difficult, it’ll also distinguish those who do.

Relaters: Support their reluctance toward change, see if it’s had a negative impact on them, and work with them to remedy that.

Thinkers: They want to know the reasons behind the change. So be organized, thorough, and precise and provide documentation of any new plan.

 

5. Tailor your criticism by style. Telling someone they need to improve is difficult but often necessary at work and at home. Here are some possible approaches:

Directors: Stress the result wanted and let them come up with ways to achieve it.

Socializers:  Don’t be vague. Have the Socializer repeat the agreed-upon changes back to you so there’s no chance of miscommunication.

Relaters: Focus on performance, not personality. Go out of your way to explain that there’s nothing wrong with them personally.

Thinkers: Be specific. Say precisely what’s being done wrong, outline the steps for correcting it, and set a deadline for completion.

 

Exuding Competence

                                                                    Exuding Competence


Competence means being knowledgeable and skillful in your field; but it also means possessing a problem-solving ability that goes beyond your own specialty. If you don’t know the answer, or how to fix the problem, with strong competence, you know how to go about getting someone who does. Competence means having a can-do attitude and following through on it.

Exhibiting competence in knowing what you’re doing, or knowing how to get something done, is communicated to others in a variety of ways. There’s the obvious level of actually being able to do what you say you can do.

Your “nonverbals” – how you look, the sound of your voice – go a long way toward conveying competence. So does the style of behavior you choose – whether you come across as a very casual person, or as someone who’s a professional and takes herself seriously. Notice I said “the style of behavior you choose,” because you do have a choice.

And that’s my tip on competence: you can choose to behave in a way that exudes competence, or you can choose to undercut what skills you do have by looking and acting as if you’re not sure of yourself.

Your ability to gain influence with other people is dependent on how they see you – whether they judge you to be trustworthy, whether they think you really know what you’re talking about, or whether you can manage the tasks you claim you can. You’ll go a long way toward gaining that trust when you’re able to impress them with your competence.

How do you express your competence to others?