Yes, I am afraid I have been revolting! No … I am still a besotted cat lover and things are still not back to normal there, and the bill for chicken is enormous. So if anyone sees me at the meat counter please don’t report me to the Vegetarian Society … it’s for the cat, honestly!

I mean that I staged a work revolution on Saturday. Just before lunch, I looked at the pile of work still waiting in my in tray (and on the floor) and decided enough was enough and I gave up and went out into the garden.

Now, I am noted for my obsessive work ethics and attention to detail and for me to stage a work revolution is almost unheard of, but sometimes one hast to be strong. It is of course the problem with working from home such a lot.

I like to write at home, I have my library and my creature comforts and I can choose just how much time I spend doing it. And with the projects on the board for Trischel there is such a lot of writing to do! Writing a book, implementing new courses, updating existing ones, preparing for exciting presentations, creating new operating systems … it’s never ending (sigh).

But of course the meaning of “Work Life Balance” goes right out the window. It’s strange that I used to teach all about “Burn Out” and I can actually hear myself telling the course that “It’s like a frozen nose in the Arctic … you never realise that it is happening to you until someone else points it out!” and here was me, slogging away at the computer until the husband introduced himself at breakfast on Saturday and gave me a photograph of himself and the cats. Not subtle, but effective!

At 8 o’clock in the morning I explained that I had just a few things to finish before rejoining life, and at 12.30 I staged the revolution.

When I was working for other people the tendency for work to become all consuming usually stopped at the end of the working day. And even though I worked hard all day I did have the luxury of a work free environment called ‘home’. Employers have a duty of care to ensure that their staff are allowed adequate rest periods, lunch breaks etc, and of course there is always the distraction of other people in the work place which can help to break the obsessive focus on work.

In fact we are lectured on “Work Life Balance” and strategies are put in place to ensure that the working people of Australia are given a chance to enjoy living in the Lucky Country. We are inspired to put as much energy into our personal life as into our working life – and that’s where working for oneself gets difficult.

When your work place is also your relaxation place, the lines can get blurred.

Putting balance into our lives is a personal choice – I mean that for us to find a balance we have to choose self management. That is of course, once we have recognised the need for change. Remember the arctic nose freeze? We probably don’t even realise that we are out of balance, and even when our loved ones start to get ‘huffy’ with us we can blame everything and everyone except ourselves. Perhaps that is why the cat ….!

I had to start taking the husband’s whinging seriously when he finally brought his concerns to me in a way I couldn’t ignore. And when I sat down and gave the problem some thought it became very evident that over the last few weeks at least I had been a willing prisoner in my office.

So I have taken some steps to reorganise my priorities and reminded myself of the problems associated with ‘Burn Out’. So if you don’t want to fall into the same trap, let’s go over it again:

Because we are all different and have different lives and needs, we need to consider carefully which of the following information applies to us – talk it over with the loved ones in your life, they will soon tell you if you get it wrong.

· Know precisely what your responsibilities are both in your work situation and importantly in your home and social life. We may have written job descriptions to guide us at work, perhaps we need to put into writing what our ‘life responsibilities’ are as well.

· Be reasonable in your expectations. Prioritise your world, and stick to it. Learn to say “no” to requests that are unreasonable. You are not the only one at work, nor should you carry all responsibilities at home.

· If you work from home then you need to set yourself a proper time-table. We home workers need to self regulate and steps I have taken include putting an alarm clock in the office and when it goes off I break for a cup of tea and walk away from the computer. I find this is essential because if I bring the cup of tea back to the office, it gets cold and I get no tea and no break.

· Learn some relaxation techniques to deal with stress. I find that I can cope with more if I do not stress about it. My energy levels actually rise when I practice deliberate relaxation.

· Plan your relaxation, put in place time tables which include ‘time off for good behaviour’. Spend this time with the family or in activities which are not work related – and enjoy yourself. And you will not be able to do that if you spend the whole time thinking about work – so

· Learn to think differently. Compartmentalise your life, and put the work thoughts away when not working. Learn to enjoy life again, and make the people you are with when not working the most important people in your life.

If we get the ‘work-life balance’ thing wrong it can lead to real physical and emotional problems for us. And there is no excuse. Work is important but life is more so – as one reformed character put it “I can get another job but I can’t get another life”.

So it

was out to the garden for the rest of the weekend for me, and I was delighted that the rain had really made a difference. Everything is blooming, producing and thriving, especially the weeds. The whole garden needs a real spruce up, the paths need edging, the beds need weeding, the shrubs need pruning, the tomatoes need spraying and the vegetable need fertilising.

Oh bother – it all sounds like too much work. I wonder if the husband will notice if I slip back to the computer and get on with some more writing!!

Michele @ Trischel

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