11 Chapters
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CHAPTER 5

Drake, John D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

What if we put in shorter hours and got the work done anyway? Don’t laugh. Some people are doing it.

AMY SALTZMAN1

It has been said that the time we make available for work is infinite and the time for everything else is finite. True, isn’t it? We almost always make time for the job: we change schedules, postpone vacations, work late, or bring the work home. Somehow the job gets done, while the time for self or family is pushed aside or postponed.

If you are reading this chapter, I’ll assume you’ve decided to do something about work’s incursion on your personal life. From a broad perspective, you can take three different approaches to provide more time for yourself and family. They are:

This chapter discusses the first option.

For many people, the burden of work is so consuming and fatiguing that little or no energy is left for life off the job. Sometimes, by creating more time for self during the workday, you can reduce fatigue and address personal needs more fully. This chapter provides ten suggestions, many of which are relatively easy to implement. However, as with all job changes, there are inherent risks. I’ll suggest some steps to help you keep them to a minimum.

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APPENDIX GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE: A FIVE-SESSION PROGRAM

Drake, John D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub
Medium 9781576751169

CHAPTER 8

Drake, John D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Don’t ever slam a door; you might want to go back.

DON HEROLD1

If you are reading this chapter, you may be anticipating difficulty in selling your plan to downshift or perhaps it has already been shot down. So now you’re facing a critical decision—what to do next. For most of us, three options are available:

We’ll discuss each of these alternatives to help you arrive at a decision. However, even though we review the pros and cons of each alternative, the overriding consideration for you is “How important is it to me that I change my lifestyle?” We’ll talk more about this. Now let’s turn to your first option.

As you can imagine, there are some potent negatives to this option. One downside of staying put is the possibility of a psychological setback. As with any loss, you may experience a diminishment of enthusiasm or self-confidence. After all, staying put represents giving up, at least temporarily, your hopes for a better life for you and your loved ones.

Another problem with staying put is that once again you are placing yourself in the hands of others. Instead of taking charge of your life, you will be adopting a passive role. How does that sit with you? If you do nothing (stay put), you may temporarily experience reduced discomfort because what is familiar seems safe, but later on regret and depression are likely. In any event, staying put means that you will not enjoy the exhilarating feeling that accompanies taking control of your life.

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CHAPTER 1

Drake, John D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

There’s more to life than work.

OLD ADAGE

“I should have left an hour ago.” “Between my job and my family, I haven’t got a minute for myself.” “The money is great, but there’s got to be more to life than this.” Do these statements have a familiar ring? Maybe you’ve uttered the same words yourself. If so, you’re not alone. U.S. News and World Report1 found that 49 percent of Americans say our society puts too much emphasis on work and not enough on leisure. For many, the idea of leisure is a joke. Gates McKibbin, a former organization effectiveness consultant with McKinsey & Company, put it this way:

The prevailing work ethic in the United States right now demands that people succumb to absurdly escalated expectations of the time and energy that one must invest in work-related activities. The fast pace and pressure to be plugged-in at all times, made possible by the omnipresent cell phones, voicemail, e-mail, laptops, and faxes, fuel the expectation that employees should quite literally be available to deal with work issues 24 hours a day—wherever they are, whatever they are doing.22

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CHAPTER 3

Drake, John D. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

They conquer who believe they can. One has not learned the lesson of life who does not each day surmount a fear.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON1

Quite often, we are ourselves the real roadblocks to working less. We postpone downshifting, not only because of external pressures (presented in the last chapter) but also by our own internally generated worries. We’re fearful because we’re contemplating a change; we’re trading something we know for something that is less certain. We also realize that risks are involved, and risks are scary. It would be unnatural not to have at least a few concerns about downshifting.

Psychologists tell us that the best way to cope with fears is to confront them. This chapter is designed to help you do just that and to provide ways to surmount them. What follows is a description of concerns that are likely to emerge as you contemplate downshifting. As you read, try to identify those that trouble you the most. Along with each fear, I have provided for your consideration an On the other hand. It presents thoughts that may ameliorate some of your concerns. Later in the chapter, I’ll discuss additional options to help reduce anxiety about cutting back.

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