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The 50-yard dash

Published March 20. 2010 09:00AM

We're in the middle of our busy time at my day job, so that means a lot more time out of the office, on the road, attending meetings, and tying up loose ends before the school year is over. It's been like this for the last few weeks, and I don't see it letting up until sometime around Memorial Day. I call these my "50 yard dash" days, where it seems like I'm just running from one thing to another, and it's hard to keep track of everything during these times.

Every job has rush times and slow times, just like our lives outside of work. As the weather gets nicer and spring approaches, we might find ourselves slacking off during the day ever so slightly. Perhaps sneaking in a few Google searches for a possible vacation spot, or taking lunch outside more often. It's impossible to keep up a relentless pace for long stretches of time. I'm the type of person who tends to stretch myself a bit too thin at times. I'm happiest and most productive when I have a bunch of things on my "to do" list, but lately I'm finding that even I have my limits. I'm really trying to scale back and say "no" more, although that's not as easy to do as it might sound.

It's very difficult to find balance between work and play, but it's very important that we do this. In fact, it's probably more important than ever lately, as more and more companies are scaling back and asking more from their employees than ever before. It's admirable to take on many more responsibilities than usual, but the fact is that we're not very effective when we're pulled in a million directions. Eventually, all of our work starts to suffer. Many of us don't have the option of saying no to our supervisors when a great opportunity might pop up for our business, but the key is not to dive in headfirst and give your all, and then burn out very soon afterward. It's important that we find ways to pace ourselves, no matter how demanding our schedules might be. I would be lost without my various to-do lists. They help me keep track of what needs to get done, and how much is left to do once I cross something off my list.

When I get into the thick of my busy season as I am now, I really find myself pulling back and taking more time for myself. It's nice to choose how I spend my time. I used to go nonstop at work and then spend my evenings at various activities and meetings. Now, if work is particularly crazy, I can't wait to have a more low-key night at home, and vice versa. I used to be one of those folks who took on everything that was asked of me and had a jam-packed schedule (some may disagree), but now, the quality of how I spend my time over the quantity of what fills my calendar is more important.

So many of us give of ourselves and our time endlessly and never complain. We have to have our own "play time" in among all of our work time. Take a walk. Get a massage. Read a book. Plant a garden. As we spend our days and weeks in our own 50 yard dash, we have to remember to pencil ourselves in among everything we do for everyone else.

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