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Pacing myself

Work is completely frantic at the moment. It always is in the last quarter of the financial year – both the company and our main customer have financial years ending in March, so there is a huge pressure to get projects completed, research written up, and (most importantly!) invoices submitted. This year seems even worse than usual and I have got a considerable number of major milestones all due to be completed and submitted over the next five weeks.

In previous years I’ve just gone with the flow,  accepted that I’d be working crazy hours from January to March, and then I would take a good long holiday in the relative quiet of April to recharge my batteries. But this year I simply haven’t got the energy to do that. It takes so much effort just to get up in the morning, and to gird my loins to face the day and hold myself together, that I can’t currently manage to cope with a full-time job, let alone overtime on top of that.

I had a long talk with my boss before Christmas about how best to balance my commitment to work with not overdoing it. After all, I’m no use to them if I drive myself into another state of exhaustion. He was very supportive, and we decided that the best thing to do was for me to go part-time, at least until May when we’ll review the situation and see if I’m strong enough to go full-time again. So at the moment I’m working a nominal three-day week, but spread flexibly over the full five days. So on a typical day I’ll get in mid-morning and work until mid-afternoon. I’m in the office daily, so crises don’t get much of a chance to build up, I can have a leisurely start to the day to give me time to psych myself up, and I can come home before I get too shattered.  All in all, it’s an arrangement that’s working very well.

I’ve also taken on board something that the family counselor from the Hospice advised. She suggested that I try not to work for more than six to eight weeks without a break, but rather to schedule in some long weekends off to give me a chance to unwind a bit before returning to the fray. That sounded very sensible advice, so I had a short break at my parents’ last weekend. I did little other than sleep, and my mother spoiled me rotten (bacon sandwiches in bed for breakfast!). I came back much refreshed.

I need to find a work-life balance that is sustainable in the long term. I think the key is going to be to try to pace myself, and not let the exhaustion creep up on me.  So I’ll see if this part-time working interspersed with long weekends does the trick. It’s looking good at the moment.

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Frosty | 21 February 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    So pleased to hear work have been understanding and that you’ve got so many people looking out for you.
    What I wouldn’t do for bacon butties in bed!!!

  2. Veronica | 23 February 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad that is working for you. It’s sometimes difficult to see the creeping up occurring until it hits you full pelt. Be gentle with yourself, and make sure you eat properly (sorry, I don’t mean to sound bossy and as though I don’t think you can take care of yourself, but I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of not eating when you have only yourself to feed.)

  3. PaulD | 25 February 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    of course i’ve found the perfect work-life balance, no work !

  4. Gillian | 25 February 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    If only my Premium Bond would come up………..