What counts as ‘work’?

Have you ever dealt with burnout when you are working too much and too long so that it’s negatively affecting your health and your relationships, and ultimately then negatively affecting your performance at work?

You can listen to the Podcast free here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/what-counts-as-work/id1282091502?i=1000393694299&mt=2

http://gorocco.libsyn.com/what-counts-as-work

https://soundcloud.com/user-655379556/what-counts-as-work

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SUMMARY

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Have you ever dealt with burnout when you are working too much and too long so that it’s negatively affecting your health and your relationships, and ultimately then negatively affecting your performance at work?

We all need to be pilots of our own human body.  A pilot has a schedule and a timeline that they have to meet, but more importantly they have to recognize that if the weather is bad, they may need to divert to another airport to arrive safely.

Have you ever thought about your work and your career in terms of your personal mental safety? Have you ever been working so hard that you’re heading for your own kind of crash?

So, I took a look at five different safety critical professions for some benchmarking.

  1. Truck Driver
  2. Emergency Room (ER) Doctor
  3. Law Enforcement
  4. Airline Pilot
  5. Firefighter

So, what did I learn in surveying those five professions?  In short, they mandate 42% to 67% downtime.

I interviewed a firefighter friend of mine, “How much are you allowed to work?”

He said that they work 48 hour shifts with 96 hours off in between.

Assuming that you’re a professional, working at advancing your career, you likely have a different schedule than this.  Maybe you have a flexible schedule, but sometimes that in and of itself can become difficult to manage.  You may be left wondering,  ‘Am I really working enough?’  ‘Or too much?’

For example, I journal every week and I write down targeted achievements that I want to hit for the week.  Not necessarily a number of hours that I want to work.

Because not all work feels like work . . .

I might take one client out to lunch and it doesn’t feel like work at all.  I might facilitate one group through a problem-solving session and it doesn’t feel like work at all.  Everybody’s engaged, energized, charged, they’re really working together and humming, but sometimes even writing an email, where I’m really struggling to find the right words, that can feel a lot like work.

How you decide what ‘work’ is, has as much to do with your gut and your heart as it does with your scheduling and productivity tools.

What is that old world?  The old world values working all the time.

The old world values Saturday as just another work day.

The old world only values you if you’re suffering, if you’re killing yourself at work.

If we want to be fully functioning humans, our home life affects how well we work.

In the new world, we recognize that if you burn yourself out at work, every other piece of your life is going to suffer.  Burn out yields increases in absenteeism and turnover.

The new world recognizes if you burn yourself out at work, the rest of you suffers, too.

Now do this differently:  Track your achievements.  Make it measurable and repeatable.  Follow your plan, but follow your heart, too.  Don’t let yourself crash.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

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Hi, everyone, Rocco Luongo, data-driven business consultant and coach.  Have you ever struggled when work doesn’t feel like work or better said, how much work you should be doing?

I tell you what, this is something that I struggle with.  Have you ever dealt with burnout when you are working too much and too long so that it’s negatively affecting your health and your relationships, and ultimately then negatively affecting your performance at work?

Believe me, I understand.  I’ve struggled with the tendency to be a workaholic.  I tend to put in more hours than I need to.  I’ve struggled with that, too.  I’ve seen my health and my relationships suffer from it.

Remember what we talked about in week two, about Leaving Energy for Good Choices?  We all need to be pilots of our own human body.  A pilot has a schedule and a timeline that they have to meet, but more importantly they have to recognize that if the weather is bad, or something else is driving them for a crash, they need to divert to another airport to make sure that they arrive safely.

Have you ever thought about your work and your career in terms of your personal mental safety? Have you ever been working so hard that you’re heading for your own kind of crash? I mean, I do.  I definitely do.  So, I took a look at five different safety critical  professions out there and how they’re regulated to make sure that they don’t work too much to make sure that quality and safety are assured.

  1. Truck Driver
  2. Emergency Room (ER) Doctor
  3. Law Enforcement
  4. Airline Pilot
  5. Firefighter

What did I find out?  I interviewed a firefighter friend of mine, and I asked him, “How much are you allowed to work?”

He said that they work 48 hour shifts with 96 hours off in between.

That’s four mandatory, consecutive days off.  I then clarified, when they’re on for 48 continuous hours, what kind of work are they doing?  Obviously, they have to deal with emergencies.  If there’s a fire, or some other kind of emergency, they have to always be ready.  That constant readiness has a certain draw down, a certain amount of ‘burn rate’ you might say, no pun intended, but they also do other things, like maintenance, they also work out, they also cook and eat together, because they live for those two days together as a kind of a mini family.  There’s a strong team ethic that occurs in there as well, but the point is they get four days continuously off.

When’s the last time you took four days continuously off, let alone the last time that you knew that you had four days off coming after each two days of continuous work?

Now there’s something that I don’t have as an analog for in my life, but what I’m trying to do is to understand how professionals in other fields do it.  How do leaders in those other fields solve this issue of safety to avoid a crash, and how can we apply that to benefit coaches or business owners.

Imagine that you’re a professional out there, working at advancing your career.  You likely have a different kind of schedule than this.  Maybe you have a flexible schedule that allows you to work when you want, but sometimes that in and of itself can become difficult to manage.  You may be left wondering,  ‘Am I really working enough?’  Or, ‘How many hours should I be working?’

Well, some people are going to feel their way through that question, for example here’s how I do it.  I journal every week and I write down targeted achievements that I want to hit for the week.  Not necessarily a number of hours that I want to work.  But I like to use these kinds of numbers as a baseline.

So, what did I learn in surveying those five professions?  They mandate 42% to 67% downtime.

Now, when they count uptime, what they’re looking at is ‘shift time’.  For example, in the case of the police officer, they work twelve hours on and twelve hours off, and in their twelve-hour shift, they can have a combined ninety minutes off, but they can’t take it all at once.  They have to break it up.

So what I’m saying is, you’ve got mandated downtime and within your shift you have allowable break time; time to refocus and recharge.  This is what I’m trying to get at because not all work feels like work.

Have you ever had that experience?  I might take one client out to lunch and it doesn’t feel like work at all.  I might facilitate one group through a problem-solving session and it doesn’t feel like work at all.  Everybody’s engaged, energized, charged, they’re really working together and humming, but sometimes even writing an email, where I’m really struggling to find the right words, that can feel a lot like work.

How you decide what ‘work’ is, has as much to do with your gut and your heart as it does with your scheduling and productivity tools.

What is that old world?  The old world values working all the time. The old world values Saturday as just another work day, and man did I get stuck in that routine.  I remember 60-70 plus hour weeks, where the only great thing about Saturday was you got to leave at noon.  I’ll tell you what, my health suffered, my home life suffered, things were not clicking well and this was not sustainable.

I was literally heading for a crash.

What else does the old world value?  The old world only values you if you’re suffering, if you’re killing yourself at work.  That’s what the old world wants.  “Oh man, Jim’s really killing himself.  He’s a great worker!”

Is that really the kind of worker that you want?  Someone who will kill themselves?  Is that really the long-term win for a creative, synergistic, environment where you’re really generating measurable and repeatable growth?

Now this might seem like blurring the line between life coach and business coach but let me tell you, if your life is no good, your business is going to suffer.  I am not sure who drew that ‘line’ but in the real world, if we want to be fully functioning humans, our home life affects how well we work.

What about the new world?  In the new world, we recognize that if you burn yourself out at work, every other piece of your life is going to suffer.  It doesn’t do your business any good if your team is routinely having heart attacks, divorces, and any of these other problems that happen when you burn yourself out.  Absenteeism, attrition, turnover which can cost anywhere from half the annual salary cost to three times the salary cost to the business to make up for each job lost lose due to turnover.  This is something we can target and reduce through smarter leadership and smarter management.

The new world recognizes if you burn yourself out at work, the rest of you suffers, too.

DO’s and DON’Ts:

DO: Use benchmarking data to understand what other people in other fields, other managers are doing that may help you gain some confidence from the data that allows you to build up new skills and new abilities.  That’s what the data is there for.  The data helps you with your story, it isn’t supposed to be the story.  The data provides that stake in the ground that you can hold on to and allow yourself to grow.

DO:  Write down targeted achievements that you want to hit.  Maybe it’s something for one day, or a week, or a month, but whatever your plan is, make it achievement-based because work doesn’t always feel like work, and productivity doesn’t always equate to number of hours spent on a task.

DO:  Put together a structure but you’ve got to follow your feelings, too.  When I talk with my wife, she’s a very talented professional as well, and I asked her, ‘What does work feel like and would a schedule help you become more productive?’  She said, ‘Hell no, that is my nightmare scenario!”

What works for one person isn’t going to work for another necessarily.  You’ve got to feel it, you’ve got to flow your love from your heart and that’s where your happiness will ultimately come from.

DON’T:  Assume that all work feels the same.

DON’T:  Burn yourself out.  Remember those five different careers where safety is important.

DON’T:  Work yourself in a way that’s unsafe.  You can’t afford a crash, either.

All right, and now do this differently:  Track your achievements.  Make it measurable and repeatable.  Follow your plan, but follow your heart, too.  Don’t let yourself crash.

Thanks very much, I’m Rocco Luongo, this is Thoughtful Leadership.  Go you!!!

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