I’m an admitted work-a-holic. It’s easy. Since I love writing, work feels stimulating and joyous. I also consider myself a play-a-holic at times too. I do need to have fun away from my computer! But in March, I agreed to write two books quickly. It was MY choice. A third edition of Start & Run Your Own Record Label was badly needed, with all the new models for digital marketing. So I wanted it out fast. My editor at Billboard said if I turned in by May 15th, it could be out in January. So I agreed! It’s important to me that my book comes out quick.
Around the same time, I signed with McGraw-Hill my Nice Girls Can Finish First book. Normally they give at least a year to write the book and then it could take another for the editing and production end. But my editor loves it and offered to speed its release. If I could turn it in by June 1st,. it would be out for Women’s History Month in March. Of course I agreed! I wanted this book out as fast as possible.
I interviewed dozens of people for the music book. Transcribing interviews was time consuming. In between I was writing the other book, doing my blog, and working on other projects. Trying to do simple personal stuff like laundry, preparing meals, cleaning, communicating with friends, etc. became intrusive. I’m glad I did agreed to the short deadlines—now that it’s over. I did learn a lot.
During that time I accepted I can’t do it all. Nobody can. You may try to. I’ve done that. Push—push—push to get 2 days worth of work done in one. Telling myself I can do it. I see many other work-a-holics like me, or much worse if that’s possible. Electronic toys bring multi-tasking to the next level. It keeps you in work mode even when playing, since anyone can reach you anywhere. You might get extra work done by working double-time in all your time, but can be price can be too high!
It’s alluring to want to get ahead or do something that means a lot to you, like me with my books. Working faster during much longer hours can seem the road to achievement. Why not if you can? Because it can hurt you in ways you may not think about until it’s too late. Just like many medications have side effects, working on overkill has them too:
* Hurts your health. You may skip meals. Neglect your needs. Ignore discomfort from doing those things. Or you may pop pills for the headache overwork gives you that may not be best for you. Nutrition can really suffer when you’re on the run, even if the running is just in your head, like me tied to my computer. Sweets and junk food are much more alluring when you’re working on a treadmill-like schedule. Smoking and turning to drug stimuli can also increase.
* Stress. Do I need to spell this one out? Working too much causes your body to respond to the stress of it all. That causes all sorts of harm to your body. It can damage your heart, give you indigestion or heartburn, and many other things that can potentially weaken your immune system.
* Sleep deprivation. You might not plan to give up sleep when you take on too many projects but it can suffer in several ways. Having work on the brain can prevent falling asleep. I’d get so frustrated when my mind raced. I knew it was important to get my eight hours. Then there’s the allure of getting more work done by sleeping less. I’d wake up at 5 AM and think about how much I could get done if I stayed up. So of course I stayed up and sleep suffered. I actually think I got less work done since it’s harder to function efficiently when you’re tired.
* Loss of playtime. All work and no play is no fun! Nor is it healthy. We need balance. I love writing more than almost anything. But avoiding downtime activities limits my joy. You need a mix of both! Making money with no time to play with it makes no sense!
* Loss of friends and family. When you work almost all the time, there’s little quality time for loved ones. Your romantic partner feels neglected. Friends alienated. People are your most valuable assets. We all need to give and receive love, whether it’s romantic or with friends and family. It’s important to make an effort to spend time with people you care about!
* Diminished productivity. Wearing yourself down also wears down your ability to function at high capacity. In the last few months I worked 7 days a week, often 14 hours a day. But eventually I realized it took me longer to do things. My brain slowed down. So I was working harder and longer while getting less done.
* Diminished satisfaction. When I was on overload, eventually my joy in writing decreased as I pushed myself to keep going. Too much of anything is no good as they say! It’s important to take breaks from work, even if you love what you do.
I was lucky. I caught myself. After a few weeks of the above, I made the effort to create at least some balance. I still had to work hard but every day I had at least an hour of ME time. Often it was to exercise. One hour of weight training or running in Central Park. Once a week I had acupuncture to reduce stress and keep up my energy. I did my best to accept that more sleep meant more quality work. And while I pared down my social life for a bit, I still made some time to go out and have fun.
And deep breathing regularly also relieved stress.
I had to make choices on what to cut back on and to prioritize where to put my time. That was how I survived being on overload. Many of us think we can do it all. And we can, if we sacrifice our well-being and sometimes our sanity. I love myself enough not to do that! I had no regrets putting things off. Keeping myself healthy is always my TOP priority, as it should be yours too!!!
I apologize for not keeping this blog up as much as I used to. I will post more often now. I was also VERY late getting out the free music industry e-zine I publish. And, much slower to answer emails. Sometimes a girl has to focus on the income earning work! Now I am catching up and it feels great to get my apartment back in order.
People tell me they skip meals when they’re buried in work. I never did. Eating regularly is important! So is making a special effort to eat healthy when you’re busy. I keep nuts handy for snacks. When you’re exceptionally busy, be vigilant about taking care of you in whatever ways you can.
Sometimes you must go the distance to get things done. I have NO regrets about dedicating so much time to get my 2 books done so they can come out early in 2009.
I’m into F & M?–Fun & Money! I live to enjoy my life and to earn enough money to pay my bills and whatever else I need. I’m a work-a-holic and a play-a-holic! I both work and play with passion. Otherwise, my life wouldn’t have the healthy balance I continually strive to have. While I have some new books to write, my deadlines are more manageable
now. I’m happy about that and plan to make more time for fun as I do my day job too!
Find your own balance. Get into F & M! Make an effort to have lots of fun and time with those you care about, and put lots of energy into your work too! You might have to evolve into that balance, like I did. Consciousness helps you get into an F & M lifestyle! I love to tell folks I’m into F & M. ? Try it. It’s a great way to live!