Archive for April, 2006

What is Overwork? The Answer is Not as Straight-forward as You Think

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“I’d love to change the way work fits into my life, but I have too much of it,” is one of the top three excuses people use for not finding a better work+life “fit.” Too much work, or overwork, is part of the challenge of the 24/7 work reality. According to the 2004 study Overwork in America by Families and Work Institute (FWI), “one-third of all U.S. employees can be viewed as chronically overworked.” Ironically, being overworked is the reason these individuals need a new “fit.” But they don’t try to create a new fit because they have too much work. It’s vicious cycle. Getting past the excuses and finding a solution requires answering the question: “What is overwork?” But, there’s not a straight-forward answer. Here’s why:

What Other Researchers Are Saying About Work+Life in the 21st Century

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Work+Life “Fit” in the 4/16/06 New York Times, Career Couch Column – See my advice to people who want a life but have bosses who expect long hours in today’s 24/7 work reality….

Work+Life Research Round-up—Even More Confirmation of the New Work+Life “Fit” Reality

I am not alone in seeing a new 21st Century work+life “fit”reality. A number of recently released studies reinforce the message that strategic, mutually-beneficial work+life “fit” partnerships between individuals and employers are a key driver of future corporate competitive advantage and personal success.

Meredith Viera Proves Managing Your “Fit” Helps Your Career

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Meredith Viera’s move to the Today Show (NYT 4/6/06) reinforces a powerful and important message. Strategically adjusting your work+life “fit” to support your unique realities actually helps your career in the long run. It allows you to continue doing work you love, while finding time and energy for your personal life. But it requires seeing beyond the “all or nothing,” and redefining success for yourself, so that you feel good about the “fit” you are pursuing—even if other people don’t understand it.

Seizing Opportunity in the 24/7 Work Reality–Beyond the Old, “9-to-5, M-F” Mindset

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The work+life topic in the media this week is the downside of the 24/7 work reality (WSJ- 3/25/06, New York Times-3/26/06, NBC Nightly News). Most of these stories focused on longer hours, specifically people getting to work earlier. While I can see where this might be a negative development for some people, my first reaction was, “This is great!” I love getting up early. My optimal work day would start at 6:30 a.m., and end around 4:00 p.m. In fact, most mornings I’m at the gym by 5:45 a.m. But by 8:00 p.m., I’m worthless (I am notorious for falling asleep in even the noisiest places if I’m out too late).

There are a lot of early birds out there—catch us at 6:00 a.m., we’re on fire. But after 5:00 p.m., prop us up in a corner so we’re out of the way. There are an equal number of people on the other end of the spectrum—the night owls. These folks don’t begin to function before noon, and are at their most creative after 9:00 p.m. And, of course, there are endless variations in between.