You know the phrase 24×7? There was a time when if you were my client, you really could reach me 24×7.
Last year when Melissa Mayer declared that she would be cutting her maternity leave short, I was not shocked at all. Were you?
But we all have only limited time at our disposal, is it really wise to open yourself up to your clients all the time? Should a mom who just had a baby return to work within 2 weeks?
I haven’t checked with Ms. Mayer personally, but my answer is a resounding “No”!
Even though my jobs have not been as exalted as the Yahoo CEO’s, up until my daughter was born, I was always available to my customers outside of 9 to 5.
I responded to emails late at night. I used to check automated processes at 2 am. I showed up to work when I was sick.
When my first son was born, I worked until I went to the hospital. I was answering emails a few weeks into my maternity leave.
There was this one time when my husband and I left our infant with a sitter and went out to an elegant anniversary dinner, only for me to spend the entire duration responding to a client’s call! I really should have sent that client my restaurant bill.
Sure, no one could ever tell me that I had dropped the ball, but the real reason behind my working crazy hours was a gut wrenching fear.
A paralyzing fear that if I wasn’t available around the clock, my customers would turn to someone else on my team. And everyone would discover that I was the only team member who dared to have a life. Worse yet, I feared that any time off might undermine my chances of a promotion.
All this worrying and working made me miserable. I felt unhappy because I had set expectations for myself that exhausted me, both mentally and physically. None of this was helping me get promoted either.
Even though I couldn’t get shake off this fear, I was better planned when my two younger kids joined the family. I created detailed transition plans ensuring that customer’s needs were met in my absence. I completely disconnected during my maternity leave.
Surprise, surprise, no one called me urgently on my cell phone! No one expected me to be working during the 3 months I was off. I was a much happier person too!
But patterns have a way of repeating themselves in your life…
Since launching my coaching program, I am seeing those same habits creeping back into my life. This time the fear is even more palpable. Taking care of each client is important to me not just because each client is critical to the bottom line of my business.
Let’s face it we all want to succeed, but should we be working around the clock to achieve success? Don’t happiness and health matter? Shouldn’t family matter?
One of the problems in modern society is that we equate hard work with success. The person who is always working is viewed with admiration as demonstrating a greater dedication to his work than someone who chooses to work smart. But that’s another article altogether.
I for one am tired of waging a constant battle with time. Most of all I am tired of these relentless thoughts that take up residence in my mind. Do any of them sound familiar to you?
- If I gave anything less than 120% at work, my clients will think I don’t care.
- It’s selfish to focus on my other values such as Family, Health and Freedom.
- I do not deserve time off to take care of myself.
- I can’t stand it if my manager or client is unhappy with me.
- I can’t ask for help, everyone will think I’m weak or incompetent!
- It is a competitive world out there. If I disconnect I will never achieve any measure of success!
- My peers are always online, and that must be the reason they are so successful.
- Time is my enemy! I will never have enough time to accomplish everything that needs to get done.
If you have ever harbored any of these thoughts, then it is time you reevaluate your relationship with time.
Here is the truth, no one is going to tell you to take control of your time! In fact your company, your manager, your teammates they will never complain that you are working too much.
Hey, if someone wants to pitch in and take responsibility when they are supposed to be off (entitled to be off based on company policies), they why would they complain?
It makes your manager’s life easier! You are paid the same amount of money for putting in more hours of work.
It makes your client’s life easier, because when they call, you jump to their service. You let them take the lead, you let them control your time.
It makes your company very happy, because you are continuing to persist in the mistaken belief that working hard will earn you a promotion.
If you continue to do this you will end up like me, mentally and physically drained. You will allow this craziness to perpetuate, you will be stuck in a repetitive pattern that is never going to propel you to success.
It is time to turn the tables. It is time for you to assume leadership and establish boundaries. It is time to set standards on how you interact with your managers and clients. It is time for you to make it crystal clear how you wish to be treated, with respect and consideration.
It is time to take back the joy in mindfully giving your time to your clients rather than having it wrenched from you! It is time for you to set the rules to live up to all of your values while simultaneously taking pursuing excellence in your work.
Can you do that? With a little planning and determination, I think you can and you will!
Let us begin by replacing your negative thoughts with these positive affirmations that are designed to forge a kinder relationship with time. Feel free to use the affirmations I have shared below to construct your own. I incorporate these affirmations into my morning routine and they have made a great difference in my life!
- Time is my friend. I find it easy to manage my time and stick to my schedule.
- Planning, scheduling and managing my time effectively comes naturally to me.
- I enjoy being in control of my time. It is a responsibility I cherish.
- I am punctual and reliable. People expect this of me and respect me for these characteristics.
- Guarding my time allows me to focus on efforts that will lead me to success.
- I take the time to plan my days effectively.
- I enjoy the advantages of being aware of my time and my schedule.
- Each day I am moving closer to my ideal life through greater control over my time.
- I set the rules for how much time I dedicate to my work.
- My clients value and respect the time I commit to them.
You can also learn to implement strategies that allow you take control of your time. At first these strategies may seem alien to you because you have allowed yourself to react to everyone’s demands and drama.
But over time, these strategies will lead you to a happier and healthier life. They will allow you to forge a friendlier relationship with time.
Remember that time is the stuff that life is made of. When you are taking the initiative to take control of your time, you are only following the words of this sage author…
What does taking control of your time look like? How do you implement boundaries and rules? Read my follow up post: Take Control Of Your Time: Part 2.
Photo Credit for Clock in feature image: Robbert van der Steeg via Wikimedia Commons
Share with me in the comments below… Have you faced the same dilemma before? How has it impacted your life?
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