My sales job requires a lot of extra hours, at night and on weekends. I can’t keep up without overworking. I feel like I’m doing all the work. How do I approach management to get some balance back in my life? – Martina in Corpus Christi, Texas
Finding balance by integrating our work and personal lives is crucial to our overall well-being. Every aspect of our lives suffers without harmony. When we work too many hours, our creativity is depressed and productivity drops. The resulting stress added into our day-to-day activities compounds negativity and the feeling of being overwhelmed. And while we can all agree this is no good for ourselves or anyone around us, it’s not easy to get off this descending escalator.
As we seek a way out of an overload cyclone, there are three steps that will guide us to a better equilibrium. The first is to stop and take stock of your current situation. The second is to rapidly implement easy fixes or changes. And the third is to present solutions and secure buy-in to the extended members of our work and home life. If you jump the shark and fail to follow these three steps in order, you may heap more distress onto your overflowing plate. Let’s go through each step in order to find some zen.
Step 1: Stop and Take Stock
There is no short cut to the end. First you must take the time to evaluate your current situation. Yes, I know this is crazy hard. We are all juggling so many balls. However, when we utilize a powerful pause, you are giving yourself permission to look at all the angles and moving parts. We must truly open our eyes, step outside the walls we have built, and walk around to notice the small things that directly impact our every day.
Start with the various duties you perform. Ask why you are doing certain tasks in a specific manner. Is there an easier way? Do some of your own self-imposed behaviors add to the time or difficulty of the task? Have you observed others doing it differently? Can some exercises be re-grouped or combined?
Here’s an example of one behavior I identified by taking stock. Perfectionism is something I have struggled with. It can manifest itself in downright stupid ways which add time, and subsequently stress, to the simplest task. Often, when I start a new document, I waste time setting up the formatting, rather than letting my thoughts surge. More than a time suck and stress additive, it saps my creative flow. By taking stock, I have recognized this behavior and am working to eradicate it. Instead, now I add the formatting and make the document “pretty” in one swoop when done.
If you are struggling with sorting out what, why, or how you could improve your workload, ask a trusted peer or friend help. Talk it through and brainstorm ideas. Is there another sales person who appears to have achieved a good balance? If so, ask them to lunch – your treat! Ask them how they do it. What tips and advice can they share? Be proactive and open to new ideas and ways to accomplish your assignments.
Step 2: Implement Easy Fixes
Now that you have mapped your processes and identified areas of improvement, get to it. Many items will be quick changes, such as retraining my brain to stop formatting documents and interrupting my thinking. Delete unnecessary steps and modify self-inflicted pain points. Delegate things that make sense. This is a great opportunity to include a colleague to shake up your paradigm and identify alternative possibilities.
For the things you cannot change, what other options exist? How could you implement the alternate possibilities you identified? What are the opportunities? How will these solutions improve your results, positively impact the team or department, and deliver benefits to the organization? This is the information you need to pitch to your manager.
Step 3: Present Solutions
Any good manager wants to hear viable ideas on how to streamline the operation. So don’t be shy; seize the moment to speak up! Pick your spot to present the solutions to your manager. That’s not when they are having a furiously bad day or leaving the office. As a sales professional, you get it. Prepare your pitch and grab your 60 seconds to get the meeting. Frame the solution leading with the benefits. How will this save x amount of time, y amount of $, or z amount of client retention?
Ask for their advice and insight. How do they see the opportunity? Be positive and proactive, helping them visualize the outcome. The result should deliver some level of relief to your workload. And a good manager always wants their team performing at their best. When it’s a win-win, the decision is obvious.
No More Doing All the Work
These three steps navigate tricky situations and difficult circumstances. They build upon one another to create a better position. And each stage delivers wins to sustain progress. It’s also a great approach to use with your clients to build stronger relationships. Each time you follow this three-step process, you are reinforcing a new habit, and a powerful problem solving skill set. Score!
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.