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Keeping work at bay… when you are really enjoying it

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk, Your life


OK, guys, I’m going to say it here and get it on record:

I really dig my new gig.

I’m going on the record with this because while I am insanely energized by it, the work is completely overwhelming and it is easy to forget the good stuff and start complaining. So while I reserve my right to complain, the reality right now is that I’ve not enjoyed my work like this in a long, long while.

It feels awesome, right? Remember the last job — perhaps it’s the one you have right now — that you felt excited about and how energizing that feels. How while nothing is perfect and there are always issues and challenges and endless ups and downs, when you are into what you’re doing it all seems more bearable. That’s where I am right now.

Of course, this is my honeymoon period at work. I’ve been there for all of three weeks and while it feels much, much longer (and in terms of hours I’ve put in, it is, in fact, a lot longer), it’s just the beginning. And in this initial period, not only am I completely digging what I do and not only am I completely head over heels about my team and what we’re trying to build, I also have an insane amount of work.

For the first time in a long while I find myself looking at my work/life imbalance in a whole different way: I have a lot of work and I really want to be doing it. I also have a family and a kiddo I really really really want to be spending time with and lots of it. What I am finding is that having both work I love and family I love and want to be with is both a slightly easier work/life juggle and a slightly harder one than when my work is just, you know, work.

On the one hand, having work I love means that when I am doing it, I feel good. Tired (exhausted, actually), and yes, really overwhelmed, but overall, energized and fulfilled. This means I am in a better mood when I get home and when I hang with my family crew I am in much higher spirits and therefore, I’m fairly certain, a much better mom and more fun to be around. What they say about work being a huge contributor to your happiness or unhappiness is really true.

On the other hand, because I am really into my work and I have a ton of things I want to be doing that have to do with it, I find myself having a harder time shutting down the computer and cutting it out while I am home. This doesn’t effect my kiddo or husband so much, since on weekends or at night when our daughter is awake the computer stays off. But it does affect me because I find myself working late (VERY late) into the night and even when I get into bed, my brain continues to buzz with work related ideas and to-dos. This is no good and I can see burnout coming fast and furious.

I know everything comes in waves and this is my work-is-great-so-I-want-to-be-doing-lots-of-it wave, but I’m curious: What do you do when work you enjoy threatens to take over more of your life than you’d like?

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5 comments so far...

  • First of all, congratulations on your new job! I have to say, I am completely envious of the situation you find yourself in.I find myself on the opposite spectrum of work satisfaction at the moment, but it wasn’t too distant history that I had a similar situation. I bet your family does notice the effect it has on you, maybe through an overall increased mood and vigor, but you are probably right that burnout will come fast. When I had this problem in the past, I was lucky enough to have a husband who called me out on it when it started to consume my “me-time”. Some of the tricks I used to manage it were fairly simple, nothing mind-blowing: Keep a log of ideas by the bed and in the kitchen to write down lightbulb moments, leave myself a voicemail or email about a brilliant something or other, and prioritizing my evening-work to things that I know are easily accomplished (don’t start roadmap work at 11pm- you’ll never get to bed).

    Malinne  |  October 26th, 2010 at 9:56 am

  • Your posting made me think of the recent Working Mothers survey about how women who consider their jobs a career vs. a paycheck are significantly happier and have more of a sense of well being in all aspects of their life. Check it out:

    Tina  |  October 26th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

  • Congratulations on loving your job!!

    But - yes - you basically just described one of my biggest obstacles in life and I CONSTANTLY run up against. I have to FORCE myself to shut down.

    And other times… I just ride the wave. :-)

    Miss Britt  |  October 27th, 2010 at 6:59 am

  • Congrats on your new love and the honeymoon phase!

    Personally, when I feel overwhelmed with workload, I take a long lunch and go work out, meet a friend for lunch or a walk, or I take a personal day. Other times I just take a vacation at my desk by listening to cool music, an audio book, checking my fave social media sites - just allowing myself time to slack off. Then I go back to my work refreshed!

    Elle  |  October 28th, 2010 at 11:20 am

  • If I feel my work is taking too much of me, I only have one solution for that, TIME-OFF. Since I am enjoying what I am doing, then good results are showing. My boss would then always allow me to take time off if I ask for it.

    I love my job but I don’t want to compromise the time that I should be spending with my kids.

    Natalie Loopbaanadvies

    Natalie Loopbaanadvies  |  December 9th, 2010 at 11:11 pm