People are working more, and multiple careers are at an all time rise. Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that a little over 8-million Americans are employed in a bi-vocational capacity.
Although reasons for this proliferation could very well fluctuate, there is one factor that remains unnervingly clear and dreadfully consistent. Burnout.
Job-related burnout results in cynicism, fatigue, and inefficacy. And in a setting like this where double duty is mandatory, these effects have an increased impact on individuals. A national survey done by ComPsych Corporation found that 63 percent of 17,000 employees experienced high levels of stress. Eventually, and inevitably such stress will lead them to burnout.
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Managing two (or more) careers is a juggling act—keeping all the pins afloat. However, if you’re not careful, compartmentalizing your life, may lead to marginalizing your priorities.
Consider the following tricks to avoid burnout in your dual career.
1. Be the Manager of Your Time
Time is one of those things in life that everyone has been given an equal amount. Some of our time is within our control, and how you steward the time you have been given speaks to your longevity in your career(s).
You read of people waking up very early, drinking a ‘green’ smoothie made from near-extinct plants extracted from the Swiss Alps, running a triathlon, answering email, and reading up on their industry, all before 7:00 am.
That’s probably a version of a Richard Branson. Don’t try to be them. Be you. You may have personal responsibilities, like a spouse to maintain a relationship to, volunteer in your child’s class, honor weekly church commitments, and perhaps simultaneously focus on graduate studies while attending to a relative facing a terminal illness.
So, how do you do it? Time management is key.
Often, particularly in the 21st century, you may feel that your time serves many masters. But the reality is, that no one can serve two masters. You must become master of your time, and steward it well. And part of good stewardship is avoiding wasting time.
There are many avenues that exist to distract you, but none of it deserves your attention. Wasted time is wasted income. So be aware of how you run your life. Rather than being a victim of career control, rule your own time, and put forth your efforts and energy to stewarding it well.
2. Draw Thick Lines
Understand and ‘see’ in black and white, rather than gray. Your life cannot have gray, undecipherable blurred lines, but must have exactness and specificity. In this age of postmodernism, life is full of subjectivity and fickle ambiguity.
Falling into such societal norms will lead to your failure and burn you out. Remember, you are the manager of your time, but also your relationships. Compartmentalizing life is good, and creating boundaries is essential.
For instance, I have a strong sense of boundaries particularly in the way my wife Adrienne and I began and have run our company to this date. The roles we wear at work and home are very distinct, and apart from each other.
We are the directors and co-directors to each other, depending on the context of our relationship—work versus home. I make it a point to be home by 5:00 pm on Friday evenings, and my wife and children expect me to be there.
Similarly, my wife makes it a point to be mindful of her own responsibilities. When stewarding two vocations, you must learn when to say “yes” and when to say “no." While it may be a good work ethic to be agreeable, being a “yes man” to everything will pull the rug from under your feet, and you will not have a stable foundation.
Know who you are, your capacity. Know what you can and cannot do. Know what you will and will not do. Maintain a standard. Draw defined lines. And effectively steward those lines.
3. Discipline Yourself
Here is the hardest one. Your life needs you to be a disciplined. And that is mandatory. Your spouse needs it from you, your children want it from you, and every commitment to which you are bound requires it from you.
Particularly in cases relating to entrepreneurs, while it may be comforting to know you can control your own schedule, spending hours in the morning at Starbucks does not necessarily count as “work.” You may have a team to lead, you may have obligatory meetings to attend, and your presence just might be needed in the office.
Stewarding time well, and creating healthy boundaries, helps minimize outside circumstances like Starbucks, from controlling your energy. Self-discipline should be one of your highest, if not, the top priority.
We do not schedule our priorities but prioritize our schedules. And in doing so, by default, we discipline ourselves. At the same time, ee disciplined, but not rigid. Sometimes one job may have a deadline that invades another’s time needs. Create the agility necessary to move in and out of roles, with a clear sense of when to do so.
Perhaps everyone is right in suggesting that getting rest, waking up early, and maintaining physical fitness truly is conducive to your success. Feed your body. Rest it. Nourish your brain. Sustain it. Disciplining yourself, is stewarding yourself.
Do it well.
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4. Keep First Things First
Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” states Habit #3 as “Effective leadership is putting first things first.”
He unpacks the concept by speaking into its impact on management when priorities and preferences are effectively carried out in the workplace.
Each job will have its plethora of demands, whether you have one job, two jobs or additional weekend jobs. In such bi-vocational cases, where you are forced to perform two roles simultaneously, remember not to major in the minors. Prioritize your deliverables for each job and make sure you put the proverbial “big rocks” in each job’s jar first. This point speaks to stewarding diligence.
Ensuring that the top priorities are dutifully completed in a timely manner in each job will develop success in both. Supporting this position is Dr. Stew Friedman, Director of the ‘Work/Life Integration Project’ at Wharton Business School suggests clumping two responsibilities together, striving to kill two birds in one stone.
Check off the box, and cross it off the list. Such accomplishment will squelch the feeling of tiredness and potential burnout. You will know you are a master when you are successful. Complete your top priorities first between both jobs, then the lesser ones after.
To avoid burn out, bring it all under one umbrella by mastering your time, drawing thick lines, disciplining yourself, and keeping first things first. Rethink, redefine, and realign. Adjust your habits to avoid burnout.
Create an image for yourself and your bi-vocational career that doesn’t classify, but complements. That doesn’t disaggregate but integrates. That does not disjoin but interconnects.
Self-reflect and recognize that you have the ability to master the seamless synergy between the roles and responsibilities you have been given to steward within the context of your personal and professional life as a husband, father, and employee that holds a bi-vocational career.