Your Career and You: “Overload…the Yellow Light at the Intersection”


Publication1“I’m exhausted.” I hear this word used time and again by a lot of people, but I’ve always said (to myself, of course), “Whiny pants. Quit complaining.”

Then I woke up this morning. Felt like someone or something had totally run over me, backed up, and had done it again.

Yep. End of the semester, and I’ve hit the proverbial wall. Too much on my plate. Too little time to accomplish every earth-moving thing I have planned.

Waah…waah…waah!

While I sneer self-righteously at many of my academic associates who feel compelled to go on sabbatical as often as they can get away with it, I do recognize the value of time away from one’s regular workplace…office, classroom, wherever…to recharge batteries and rekindle enthusiasm.

This is advice that I try to pass on to my students at Curry College, where I ride herd over our Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses. “Be mindful of overload. Don’t push yourself so hard that you’re not having ‘fun’ anymore.”

I fully recognize that no sane human student looks at the mountains of work thrown at him or her during any given semester as “fun.” But I also know that it doesn’t have to feel like a life sentence with hard labor.

So what to do?

Teachers don’t usually look at the sum of all that their students are dealing with. They’re focused on their own requirements and feel…rightfully so…that theirs is the most important of all the work sitting on a student’s shoulders. And I’m one of that herd.

I try to assure my students, particularly my advisees…who are sentenced to meet with me at least once or twice during the semester…that this is painful but valuable preparation for “real life.”

I explain that, in the working world, client-imposed deadlines are inevitable and inescapable. Work has to be done. Projects have to be completed.

“Your challenge,” I pontificate, “is to be aware of all it is that you’re taking on. If it feels like it’s too much…it might be.”

There’s no simple formula for calculating overload. It’s a trial-and-error thing. And you’re going to mess it up once in a while. But you’ll get better at judging just how much you’re capable of doing, and everyone will benefit from your new-found awareness…your friends, your family, your co-workers…your boss.

Don’t wait, though, thinking “I’ll just take on this one extra assignment…I’ll find the time somehow.”

You might. And I really hope you’ll be able to do this. But take that thought as the yellow light at the intersection…start slowing down for the immediately-following red light.

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About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 10 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
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