How to be more efficient.

By David Joel Miller.

Efficiency

How to get more done.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ways to increase your efficiency.

Do you struggle to get things done? Do you wish you could be more efficient?

Being efficient require systems and it requires practicing them until they become routine.

Consider incorporating some of these efficiency tips into your daily life.

Get more done by making lists.

Making lists helps you in several ways.  When you try to remember too many things you are likely to forget some things.  It’s easy to get so busy with the day-to-day tasks that important things don’t get done.  Not having something on your list can result in arriving at a deadline without having begun what you needed to do.

Prioritize.

You can increase your efficiency by prioritizing things.  Begin with the things that you must do today.  Avoid spending a lot of time on small things which can eat up your day without accomplishing anything.  Some large tasks may need to be broken up into smaller components so that you can do them a little of that time.

Make a schedule.

Efficient people make schedules and stick to them.  Allow enough time for each thing that you plan to do.  Make sure you include in your schedule time to get from one place or appointment to another. In making a schedule, try to be realistic. Do not over schedule. Machines that are pushed too close to their limit breakdown, so do people.

Do the hard things first.

Make it a point to tackle the most difficult thing on your list as soon as possible.  Do the hard things early when you are full of energy. Few people have unlimited willpower. Making yourself do things you don’t want to do requires a lot of willpower. Don’t squander your willpower on minor things use it for the tough chores.

Don’t expect to be perfect.

All aspects of the things you are doing are not equally important.  Get clear on which things you need to do well and which things have room for error.  Spending too much time trying to send one perfect e-mail can result in not getting all the emails answered. Perfectionism is an enemy of productivity. Don’t use perfectionism as an excuse for not getting anything done.

Take time for both short-term and long-term planning.

Investing a little time in planning can pay big dividends in the long run.  Good planning identifies which items will take longer and which things you need to do first.  Decide which things need doing in the short-term.  Long-term goals require setting up a list of steps that you were doing to work towards them. Time spent planning will reduce the time needed to be productive.

Keep your commitments or don’t make them.

If you fail to keep your commitments, you confuse yourself and others.  Be clear on which things you genuinely intend to follow through on. People with too many things on their to-do lists often fail to complete any of their intended tasks.

Take care of your tools – especially yourself, eat, sleep and exercise.

Invest some time in taking care of the equipment that helps you.  Trying to work with broken equipment is unproductive. Self-care is especially important if you want to stay efficient.  You can’t be particularly efficient if you don’t eat when needed, get some exercise and get adequate sleep.

Focus on solutions, not problems; stay in positivity.

Spending a lot of time looking at problems is unproductive.  When facing a problem, look for a solution.  Positive can-do people are much more efficient. Highly productive people look at challenges as opportunities, not obstacles

Make every day Thanksgiving, be grateful.

Approaching things in a positive manner makes you more productive, more efficient, and a lot happier doing the things you do.  Be grateful for what you have.  Remember to express thanks for the good things that happen to you.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Why taking a job doing anything is a bad idea.

By David Joel Miller.

You need a job and are willing to do almost anything, should you?

No Job

No Job
Photo courtesy of Flickr ( Hopefoote, Ambassador of the Wow)

People in early recovery frequently are looking for a job.  When we ask them what kind of job that would like they often say “anything.”

When you’re short on money, most people are willing to do just about any job in the short run.  But over the long haul many jobs doing anything burn people out and leads to unhappiness.

In your search for a job, before you take that job doing anything, here are some things you need to consider.  If you take a job that is a bad idea, you are unlikely to be successful and may not be on the job very long.

Here are some things to consider before you take that job doing “anything.”

Is it a job or a career?

Is this job you’re looking for going to lead to something else?  Something you would be willing to do the rest of your life?  When possible consider pursuing a career.  Ask yourself if there are possibilities for advancement?  Can you see yourself doing this week after week year after year?  People who have careers can see how what you’re doing today can lead to a better future.  People who only work a job, hope that they will make enough money so that they can enjoy what they do when they’re not working.

Will you like it?

Is that job you’re looking at something you will enjoy doing?  Or is this something that will be unpleasant and you’ll have to put up with in order to get that paycheck.  Will this job doing anything support or hinder your recovery. People who have happy lives derive a lot of pleasure out of what they do during the workday

Can you do it?

It’s a really serious mistake to take a job knowing you won’t be able to do the job when you get it.  Some jobs require are a high level of physical strength and you can hurt yourself trying to do something beyond your abilities.  To be successful on some jobs you will need skills or academic degrees.  It’s really embarrassing and bad for your resume when you end up getting fired from a job because you exaggerated your qualifications.

Will the hours kill the rest of your life?

Some people can do shift work, stay up all night and still have a life.  Other people find that the rest of their life, their family their friends, suffer as a result of the hours their job requires.  If this job involves working weekends, evenings or an odd work schedule, consider the impact it will have on your family and the rest of your life.

Will it make you sick?

Some jobs can be outright health hazards.  Think about the working conditions you will be exposed to.  Can you take the heat or humidity?  Will you be exposed to dangerous chemicals?  Do you have any medical conditions that would be aggravated by being out in the sun?  Think about whether this is a fast paced or stressful job and how that might affect your emotional health.

Can you stand the people you will have to work with?

Who you are going to be working with is almost as important as the work you’re going to be doing. Being with a group of people you like can help make a routine, boring job go better.  Many jobs involve teamwork and to do that you will need to fit in with a group.  It can be really stressful to work with a group of people you would not want to associate with outside of work

Is this job a stepping stone or end of the road?

It’s not unusual to start out at an entry-level job.  Ask yourself if this job you’re considering could lead to something else or will you be stuck doing a routine boring job the rest of your time with this company.  For some people, if the pay is high enough they can be content to spend their entire careers on a routine job.  But if what you are doing and are being paid, to begin with, is not acceptable, and there’s no chance for advancement, you are likely to burn out quickly.

Would you want their reputation?

Companies consider your reputation when they are decided if they should hire you.  You should do the same.  Working for a company with a bad reputation can be a really trying experience.  You don’t want to work for a company that you would be embarrassed to tell your family and friends about.

Is there more than money?

Some jobs are strictly for the money.  Low paid jobs often come with little or no benefits.  When considering a job ask yourself does it include paid holidays, sick leave, or other benefits?  If you miss some work because you’re sick that paycheck may be less than the amount you need to live on.

The next time you have to do a job search spend some time thinking about exactly the kind of job you want and avoid the trap of taking the first job you find doing anything.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Why your life’s going nowhere.

By David Joel Miller.

You can’t get very far with a flat tire.

Life out of balance

You can’t get very far with a flat tire.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The circle is a very ancient symbol of a balanced life.  To keep your life in balance, you need to keep all the different parts of your life in their proper size.  It’s easy to focus on one part of your life and neglect the others.  It helps to think of a well-functioning life as a wheel with many spokes. Look at each of these life segments and see if there are areas of your life that need improvement.

Instead of starting this new year off with a lot of resolutions that are likely to be quickly discarded, try making some small improvements in each of the major areas of your life. Take small steps repeatedly, and you will go a long way.

Physical health affects your life.

Your body and your mind are not two separate things.  They are interconnected.  When people are in the problem, mental illness, substance abuse or any other issue, they tend to neglect their physical health.  Attend your physical health is an important part of recovery.  Working on your physical health may include going to a doctor, improving your diet, drinking more water and getting more sleep.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can’t be happy because you have health challenges. Make every effort to do what you can to take good care of your physical body.

Emotional and mental health are important.

Problems in your emotional life will interfere with all the other areas. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, anger issues, or a drug and alcohol problems you need to attend to those issues. Trying to struggle through life with one of these weights on your back is not a virtue. You can only drive your car so far on a flat tire. Being willing to get help for your emotional problems is a sign of strength and a first step on the road to a happy life.

Your Financial Life shouldn’t cause you unhappiness.

When life’s not going the way, you want it to; it’s very tempting to try to make yourself feel better by treating yourself. Those little splurges add up over time. The majority of Americans, then this is true of many other developed countries, have little or no savings. In the short run, it’s hard but over the lifetime learning to earn more money, spend a little less, pay off your bills and develop a financial cushion results in a life that’s in much better balance.

Job and career activities should be more than just income.

If you don’t have a job getting one is important. Somehow everyone needs a source of income. If there’s any way, you can work you will feel better about yourself earning your income. If you have a disability that prevents that working look for a volunteer opportunity or some other way to be productive. Going each day to do something you enjoy filter life with happiness. Once past that initial job, it’s important to look at your career. Where will this job take you in 10, 20 or 40 years?

Family and friends can support your success or your failure.

Humans need positive, supportive relationships. Try to resolve differences with those that are close to you. Work at creating friendships that support you and in which you’re able to support your friends. If you have family members who have their own emotional problems, you may need to limit your time and exposure to them. Invest some time in creating new friendships. Time spent in enjoyable activities with friends is not wasted time. It is time invested in having a quality life.

Your spiritual or religious life is important.

Having a spiritual or religious belief can be a source of strength and support in the difficult times. If you have a faith or tradition that enriches your life, invest time in your practices. Many people find they need to re-examine their religious beliefs. If you’ve adopted a faith because it was what your family or someone else believed you need to ask yourself this is what you believe?

A spiritual or religious belief should make you a better person and a happier one. If you find that the religion you are following makes you feel bad about yourself or makes you angry and hate others, you may need to take another look at whether this is what your higher power wants for you.

Many people find that they benefit from time spent with other people who have the same faith. Just as it’s often helpful to get financial advice, see a counselor for emotional help, or get career guidance many people find that their lives are enriched by having a spiritual adviser.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

How to be more creative.

By David Joel Miller.

How do you keep the creativity flowing?

Increasing Creativity

How to be more creative.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you work in a creative field, then you know how important it is to find ways to spark your creative flow. Every profession these days could use a little creativity if that person or firm wants to prosper and grow. Sometimes to create the life we want we need to be more creative in our homes and leisure as well.

So how do those super creative people do it? No, the answer is not drugs, nor is it working longer hours. More effort put into doing something the routine way will not result in creativity or new approaches. If you need some inspiration to spark that creative fire of yours, here are a few suggestions.

Look for inspiration in new places.

If you keep looking in the same place you keep seeing the same things. Two possible solutions, look in new places or look in the same place with new vision. Travel exposes you to new surroundings and customs. It can give you a fresh perspective.  Visit a place you haven’t been to before or a place you haven’t been to recently.

Consider how someone from another occupation might look at the problem your working on.  Writers are encouraged to read other genres. A designer might look at natural history specimens to find inspiration.  A walk in nature can inspire other ways of looking at things.

If you continue to go to the same places, with the same people, you see the same things. Expose yourself to novelty to see the world with a new set of eyes.

Spend time with creative people.

Creative people in any discipline are on the lookout for new ideas and they are almost always willing to share. Some great ideas for innovation in business came from watching what was going on in other industries.

Artists in one medium can find inspiration by looking at the work of artists in other mediums.  A photograph can be an inspiration for a short story or setting for a novel. Getting out of your comfort zone and having new experiences can free up the mind from the same old way of seeing things and get that novel way of looking at the problem to come into focus.

Ask better questions.

Having a problem with a creative issue? Try asking other questions. How might a biologist approach this question? How would an accountant or lawyer see the creature you are creating? If you are not getting answers to questions requiring creativity ask different questions.

Work the process, put in the hours.

Some creative projects require you to get moving and do something. Writers with so-called “writer’s block” are well advised to write, write anything. That first effort may not even be worth saving but it will get you started working in the direction of the finished result.

Sometimes creativity includes experimenting with things that won’t work until you have eliminated all those possibilities. Approach each new attempt at creativity with the mindset that you will discover all you can in this process.

Take some breaks. Shift gears.

If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over and getting nowhere, try working on another project. Take some short breaks and do something else. While you are washing the dishes or emptying the refrigerator the solution to your who-did-it or how the murder needs to take place may pop into your brain as if by magic.

This taking the break is not an exception to the rule before putting in the hours. Taking short breaks to shift your thoughts is part of the putting in the effort process. Be careful here to avoid things that are just distractions and find ways to get your mind into neutral during these breaks.

Identify the things getting in your way.

Identify roadblocks to creativity. Are there distracting noises? Change locations.  What others things might be impeding your creativity.  Is your work area uncomfortable?  Consider what other supplies or equipment might help you improve your creativity.

Are you lacking the information you need to do the job you’re trying to do?  What other information might be helpful and how will you go about finding it?

Sometimes it’s as simple as your mind is occupied with something else you will need to do at another time.  Plan for when you will do these other activities or consider writing them down and making a list so you can free up space in your brain to get back to the task at hand.

Forget the rules and use what you have.

Rules about how things need to be done get in the way of being creative and inventing a new better way to do or make them.  The overly rigid about how things have to be done, what tools are needed or how to use them can get in the way of creativity.

Try using new tools in new ways.

Often creativity comes from trying out new tools, ones you’ve never seen or used before.  Try to get out of your reaching mindset and use the tool you do have in new or different ways.  Tools and working your tools can be used in a great many ways beyond what we initially think.

Consider what new tools you might want to try or how you might want to use your existing tools in a new way.

Creativity is all about moving outside your comfort zone, seeing things in new ways while being willing to try new options.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Settling for easy – keeps success out of reach.

By David Joel Miller.

Is success out of your reach?

You have to stretch to reach the good stuff.

High fruit

Hard to reach fruit can be the best.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you drift through life going for the easy things you miss out on the exceptional life events. Settling for the things right in front of you keeps you from ever finding out what could have happened if you had just reached a little farther, tried harder and kept at it longer. Don’t create a mediocre life when aiming for higher goals would have taken you to places beyond the ones you see.

Just because you can does not mean you should.

One way you can cheat yourself out of great things is to aim for the things that are available to you right now. There are many easy things in life, the spectacular things are harder. Don’t cheat yourself by taking the quick, easy way now when the longer harder one would have taken you much farther.

The job you get because of a family member or a friend may be a great life start or it may be the beginning of settling for things that take less effort on your part. Quick pleasure can come back to haunt you for a long time afterward.

If you live your life looking for the “I can do that” things you may miss out on the “I want to do that” things. Meaningful goals take time, preparation and effort. Don’t cheat yourself by taking the easy path.

Letting others set your goals means living their unlived life.

Having a parent or mentor that encourages you is a great thing. But trying to live your life to meet the things a parent wanted and never got is a way to live less of a life than you could have had.

Plenty of parents want their child to be the lawyer, doctor, actor or enter another profession that parent never made it at. Ask yourself if spending your life chasing someone else’s dream will make you happy.

The world is full of stage mothers and almost famous, hoping that their child will become famous and they can bask in that reflected glory. If this is your dream also have at it. But if you find you are pursuing someone else’s dream, wake up and set a course that is right for you. Avoid eating someone’s spoiled meal, cook up your own dreams.

You don’t get to start at the finish line.

Many people expect to start at the top. If you pick a goal that is close and easy you may reach it but at the cost of never having seen what you might have been. A large percentage of people who start out training for any given field end up quitting. Even people with masters and Ph.D.’s drop out of their academic field.

Some find that what they studied did not fit them. Many more people become disillusioned when they find that your degree did not lead to the high paid job they wanted overnight. Building a career or perfecting a talent take a lot of time and dedication. Pick a path you will enjoy walking.

Overnight success takes years.

Those stories about people who became overnight successes are mostly a myth. Those sudden stars often worked and practiced for years to get that one big break. When your chance comes make sure you have done the homework and the footwork that will sustain that good beginning.

For every person on the big stage, there are many, many more who are traveling the country performing to small crowds in small places. Some people rise faster than others, but we have all seen the One-hit-wonders who came and went. Long term lasting success in any field takes staying the course for a long time.

Great things take sustained effort.

You can’t go a long way by running fast for a few minutes. Successful people, in all senses of that term, put in the hours, do the work over long periods of time to reach those ultimate goals. To reach your dream you need to show up for practice every day.

You build muscles by lifting weights and doing the exercises. You develop job skills by doing the task over and over each time looking for the things you can improve. High performers never stop perfecting their skills. They also discover that you do not get better just by doing the things you are good at over and over. Practice also includes finding your weak spots and practicing to perfect those skills.

Obstacles are temporary, giving up is permanent.

Most obstacles to accomplishing something are only temporary setbacks. Look for other ways to reach your desired result. Go over, dig under, or go around. Look for ways to turn that obstacle into a solution. When you find a new unique way to overcome obstacles you get a long lead over those others who are still back at the start saying it can’t be done.

Taking shortcuts can get you on the wrong path.

There are short cuts. They work sometimes, for a while. But if your way of winning involves cheating, dishonesty or cutting corners, in the long run, that kind of accomplishment is fleeting. Once you get caught cutting corners you lose others trust and they take away the prize.

Don’t follow the path of least resistance.

Great people do great things. They do things others told them couldn’t be done. Stay within the rules but make sure those rules are really needed not just the conventional wisdom of people who can’t see the possibilities you can see.

Doing the easy thing does not build up skills. Repetition of your mistakes does not lead anywhere. Do the hard things and see if you do not develop ever-increasing levels of skills.

Make sure you know what success will look like when you get there.

If you set off chasing money when what would have made you happy is being a better person you will be way disappointed when you reach the end of the trail. Doing things only for the cash burns people out. Find something you can love doing and still make the income you want and need and you have the best of both. People who love a subject learn it. If you love what you do you will be better at it and the practice will be a joy.

Take a look at your goals and see if you have set them high enough.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

5 Easy ways to get better grades.

By David Joel Miller.

Learn the secrets of the A students.

Get an A

Ways to get better grades.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you have struggled in school you may have concluded that getting good grades was beyond your reach. Today more than ever education is important. A two-year college degree today qualifies you for jobs that once only required an 8th-grade education. Whether this is your first go around or you are returning to school after many years knowing the secrets of the “A” students can make the road easier.

Sleep more for better grades.

During sleep, memory is consolidated. Want to be able to find that fact you studied during the exam? Make sure you show up for the exam well-rested. Pulling an “all-nighter” just before the final exam will not make up for all the study time you should have put in beforehand. Study early and often and avoid the last-minute rush.

Life happens. There are all kinds of things to do and distractions that can keep you up late. The most productive people in life and the best students in school budget some hours for sleep and show up rested and ready to take the test.

Drink less alcohol to up your GPA.

One study reported that “D” students drank twice as much alcohol as “A” students. The more you party, the more you abuse drugs and alcohol the less energy you have for study and school.

Alcohol is the granddaddy of grade killers but he has a junior cousin that has been messing up student’s grade recently. Marijuana may seem all good, some people even think it has medicinal properties. Getting good grades is not one of the benefits of lighting that joint up.

Smoking Marijuana scrambles the information going into your brain if you smoke when studying. Smoking before the test scrambles the information as you try to retrieve it. Smoke both times and you start marking test answers that would never make sense if you were clean. Marijuana, specifically THC the active ingredient, stays in your blood stream a lot longer than other drugs. So Marijuana’s memory altering effects can last long after your last smoke.

Go to class if you want better grades.

Some people do not see the benefit from the class they are taking. They think they can just show up for the final and that will get them by. You may be able to pass the test that way, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

I am surprised at the students who pay tuition, sometimes lots of it, and then skip class. This is like buying a ticket for the concert and then showing up for the last encore. You may think you are such a great athlete you can skip practice and still play in the big game. But in the academic game if you are not there for practice you will not know the moves to pick the right test answer.

The more often you go to class the better your chances of absorbing the answer you will need for the test.

Read the book if you want to pass.

There is a reason that classes require books and it is usually not because the bookstore needs to make money on them. The things that the instructor thinks are important are probably in the book. If there are things that are important and not in the book, guess what, the teacher will tell you those things in class. You got the last point on going to class right?

Take notes for better memory.

I see students recording the lecture on their communicator devices. If you are an auditory learner this may help. But think for a moment, you were in class and heard it once already right? Will you really re-listen to all those recordings?

Technology is nice. I see people taking pictures of the power point slides. For visual learners this may help also. So will typing the notes out on your lap top. I do not recommend texting your notes. The test will not be given in text language.

What is very helpful for many students is to take notes the old fashion way. This is not because the old way is necessarily the best way. I am a big fan of indoor plumbing and running water.  What actually does work though is to write out the notes during class.

Writing notes helps keep you on tract and concentrating. I tend to think that one reason we have more attention problems these days is because people are sitting still more and moving less. Writing the notes out helps store the information in the part of the brain that controls those movements. Any surprise, you will need to write them out for the test. You may picture the slide you saved from the power point but you will need to write down the things you saw. Try practicing writing and see if your grades and your memory don’t improve.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Ways to avoid work burnout.

By David Joel Miller.

Are you unhappy at work?

Job Burnout

Job Burnout
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

More people are unhappy than happy on the job site these days. Not that the job is necessarily supposed to make you happy. There was a time when people’s main reason for working was just the money. When most people worked in farming or at a trade you worked to save up some money, bought some land and then had your life. Now if you have land you have to work to pay the taxes and other bills.

You will be working a long time.

If you look at your work or career as something you will do for 40 or so years, from becoming an adult, till you retire, it makes sense to look for a career doing something which you can be happy doing all those years.

The pay scale is not the only thing that makes for happiness. Pay is mostly symbolic. If I make enough to live the way I want, more is less important than if I am not making enough to get by on. A dollar an hour wage increase is huge for someone making minimum wage but means not much to someone who makes millions each year. Any good manager should know that giving out a raise can up production and happiness for a while but after some time people tend to revert back to their old ways. So the good workers work hard after the raise and those who thought that more money would make them happy find the effects of that raise are wearing off before long.

People who are truly happy at work find that it is more what they do and think than what the boss does that determines their happiness at work. While a bad boss can make things more difficult, there are things you can do wherever you are to make your work life more rewarding. Rather than expecting someone else to make you happy at work look for ways to get and keep a job that will make you happy.

Here are a few tips for creating a happy environment at your work site.

Search out a job that is right for you and that you would like to do.

College students often end up in majors because they heard that people who do that kind of work make a lot of money. Once out of school and on the job they are miserable and they often blame the place they work. If you are a shy person avoid training for or looking for a job that puts you out front talking to lots of people unless your goal is to overcome that shyness.

Look first for a job that would fit your personality and likes. Over time you should stretch and try to grow. Taking a job that you do not want to do is a sure recipe for job burnout. You may need to take a less than ideal job for now, but if you do, try to avoid settling into this for the long haul and being miserable in the meantime. Be thankful for the paycheck, do your very best, all the while looking for your ideal situation.

Do some research on what to expect on that job.

Some jobs look like fun when you see them on T. V. but the seamstress murder mystery solver is a fiction. Do some homework, talk with some people who actually do the kind of work you are thinking of doing. Does what is expected of employees at this company sound like something you could deal with for a long time or are you asking yourself how long you can put up with this right from day one.

Take care of yourself.

You cannot push all day at work and then go home and push all night without risking burnout. You work for a paycheck, OK. But partying all weekend is going to turn that job into something you will find it hard to show up for on Monday.

Learn to say no.

When asked to do something that you don’t think you can do, at least not safely or in the time allowed, say so. Avoid saying yes and then not doing what you said you would do. Being overcommitted at work and in your out of work life can make even the most enjoyable job an overwhelming burnout.

Please the people who matter. Do not try to please everyone.

Usually, you need to please your immediate boss or supervisor. You also need to keep the “customers” whoever that may be, happy. Beyond that, you should try to keep good relationships with coworkers but you can’t please everyone all the time. Pick who you will need to please and work on that.

You probably can’t please your boss and your parents and spouse all at the same time. Make sure you keep your family out of your work life and your boss out of your home life.

Work smarter not longer.

To the extent you have any control over the work you do and how you do it look for ways to get more done in less time. Elaborate filling systems are nice – sort of – but watch out for things that suck up a lot of time and produce no results. If the project changes weekly those files may all need to be pitched out next Monday.

Concentrate on the things that are most productive.

A few of the things you do produce the bulk of the results. This is true at the job, school and in your relationships. Do the things that are most productive first. Often those productive things will be the willpower sucking things that you keep putting off.

Do the hard things first while your willpower is strongest, then move on through your day to the less and less difficult things. Remember there will always be more to do tomorrow.

Prioritize to do lists.

Lists keep growing to fill the paper available. Many things on that list are wishes rather than need to do items. Do what matters first and cross off all the things that really do not need to be done. The goal is to be productive and enjoy your work life not to be super-employee whose cape is worn out before retirement day.

Enjoy your face time.

Emails and tweets are fine but nothing beats a face to face get together. Humans are social animals we need to see and be around others. Most happy employees get some time each day to stop and chat with other employees.

You can’t understand the tone of voice very well in an email, you get that better in person. You also need to be concerned about the person you are with as well as the work.

Think about when it will be time for a change and how you will know that.

Staying in the same place on the same job can burn people out. You need fresh challenges or opportunities if you stay on the same job. Some people find that periodically they need to change departments, tasks, companies or even careers. Others will find that they need to look for those challenges in their hobbies or out of work activates.

What ways have you found to avoid burnout in your life?

For more on the topic of Work and Careers see:

Careers and Jobs

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books