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no work life balance


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i have a project that has, been in the works for a while. entered into in a period where vetting of ideas was lacking, i.e. personnel turnover where the most experienced people we had to say xyz is feasible in this time frame for this money, or xyz is a solution that is consistent with our companies goals and standard of excellence were just not available or were swamped themselves....company growing pains.


choices were made, it is a good product design/concept that needs more grooming then I can devote right now but will have to later after the next emergency is resolved, so it will have to evolve as we learn more...there always seems to be another emergency; but the implementation of this product got accelerated for fear of losing an opportunity with a valued customer....Im not referring to any highly regulated or consumer safety thing so theres no juicy whistleblowing here. Its more that the schedule was severely compressed and the people to do the work have not been augmented to balance it out despite management pandering when I voice my concerns/fear, so it feels all on my shoulders in some respects. Im not the one shaking hands with the buyers but I feel like I'm being ignored as to how realistic many of those promises are, in short people are writing checks that I fear I can't cash. After being through the grinder several times I am not so motivated to sacrifice my personal life. I used to have work plastered all over my house to the point I couldnt sleep, it was like waking up to stress spread out on the dining room table, or rolled up in the bathroom, nowadays the smartphone gives me info at my fingertips.


Its all I think about for the last year or so and for the foreseeable future, I work at home off hours, I think about it while sitting at the bar, which is increasingly too much as I have come to grudingly admit(searching papers and tech info on my phone), I get seized by ideas once I turn the lights out and Im awake mulling them over well past bed time. I work in the office, many times exclusively to the detriment of other customers needs such that things get pushed until they are more urgent then the others. I get to a point of saturation where I just can't focus anymore, I must do something else to relieve this, something that is personally or professionally fulfilling vs feeling like the best I can do is try to catch up; I try to make it tangential to my direct responsibility like learning a skill or technique to do a part of the work but its not always possible. Im not the only one overloaded, nor is everyone overloaded, but Im in a particular point where when one criticizes how I do my work I either get offended(who are they to tell me how to do my job when they are not working off the clock to meet the deadline) or depressed(my product is deficient, it didnt have a good enough design review, Im not an "expert", its all my fault, I should have though of something before I identified it as a problem). in my current employ the real learning experiences are not under someones mentorship (for me at least) but being thrown in the grinder, I desperately wish for additional learning opportunities in our tools not only to do my job better but to feel like Im growing, its no fun to always feel like Im late...like Im incompetent, trying to catch up, behind the curve. I dont claim to be expert but I have had some solid predecessors that I am following in step but trying to apply those ideas to new situations.


I am consumed by work to the detriment of my physical health, I dont have the best stress management tools so I usually end in some quick fix be it food or substance, etc. I come home and if I dont pop open the computer Im thinking I should be working even if I just veg out and look at all the other "to Dos", family baggage, repairs and maintenance, improvements to make the place more homey/personal....then I get to work the next day and others are talking about their weekend trips and there hobbies, leaving the office to workout mid day/ Ive become resentful that I'm in the barrel and starting to lash out at my managers when they criticize the incessant delays and schedule push backs that even if I was tireless/robotic in my work ethic I can't force others to be the same and I simply can't do it all myself. They are careful to not criticize me personally 90% of the time but I see/interpret it as such sometimes. Every choice is self critiqued to death, am i doing this the best way...if someone voices a doubt then it becomes personal where ...Mr x, monday morning quarterbacks me, said you should have been doing this all along but i did it another way, both ways have valid justifications but if mine isn't working out as fast as I think it should then I kick myself for not doing it another way. it just feels like the common thread among both mine or another method would be to work to exhaustion to succeed. Its frustrating when I try to parcel out work to others and they give it back to me only to end up retracing there steps when they make a mistake.


Ive ranted to the point where I forgot why I started writing, just venting I guess but Ive asked other people what I should do and they just say, get to it, manager says jump you dont ask how high you just do it. Where is 100% effort, what is enough if as it is Ive gained weight and greyed hair, what if Ive burned out to where my 100% now is really 60% of what I could do 2 or 5 years ago. uni finals were tough, i nearly cried then but made it through. this grind is wearing me down to the nub.


Anyone been through the same, it doesnt have to be professional only. family, school etc...how do you keep going when youve got the weight of the world, it seems, to carry.

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I think you are very close to burnout or are there already. Same thing happened to me 6 months ago and it was absolutely awful. The only path back to sanity was for me to find a new job. Things were just too far gone. Lost a lot of friends and pretty much destroyed my professional network in the process of leaving, but I had to get out.


Employers will ask and ask and ask until they bleed you dry. As long as you are willing to give, they will keep asking. When work follows you home, keeps you from sleeping, enters your dreams if you do sleep, and consumes every waking thought it is worse than a parasite. My back gave out in the end and now it is fine. I think the stress just created physical symptoms. Also got the worst flu I've ever had in the middle of it all, but prior to that I was healthy as a horse. The burden just became too much for me.


I think a lot of the time when a situation like this arises, people look for a way to keep doing everything they are doing without the resentment and stress. But it doesn't work. Solutions for this sort of thing aren't found in pill bottles and other self-medication attempts. You've got to address the root cause. You've simply got to do less work.


Find a new job if you can, preferably not in this same bloodsucking company, and create boundaries around your current job for however long you are still in it. 100 years ago laborers fought for a 40-hour work week and got it. Today all of that effort is being destroyed by the rules surrounding exempt salaried employees.


Find a hobby or outlet and make time for it. Start running, doing yoga, hiking, biking, walking. Learn a new language or start playing a musical instrument. Give yourself a reason to have off hours. Take back control of your life.

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I think you need to take a very hard look at yourself and ask yourself a serious question that you answer honestly - how much of this is self induced?


You say that the company is writing checks that YOU can't cash. Why are you putting this on yourself? You are not the company, you are just a one employee among many. If you are taking on the responsibility for the whole company, responsibility that doesn't even belong to you, you will go nuts. Whether the company can or cannot cash those checks is frankly not any of your business or concern. The fact that you are concerned to the degree that you are is you lacking proper boundaries and stepping into things that just aren't your place to step into. Reconsider your perspective and what responsibilities you are making yours that aren't.


Second thing is efficiency. Every single day, make a detailed list for yourself of realistic tasks to accomplish that day. NO vague concepts, but specific tasks. Literally, 1 hr to research x, 2 hrs to build y, etc. Give yourself realistic amounts of time per task including room for deviations. Accomplish ONLY those tasks. Go home. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and will begin to feel like you are less hectic, more organized and actually getting things done. Once you focus what you need to do and break it down into doable tasks, you will find that you accomplish a lot in just 8 hours. The harsh reality is that those who need to work around the clock lack efficiency and organization. In essence it boils down to working a lot while producing little. Sorry if that's harsh, but I think you need to hear it and really take a good look at the concept and consider if that fits you. Remember that only way to solve a problem is to identify it.


Finally, boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Leave your computer at work and go hit the gym after work. Get into things that occupy your mind in different ways. Find hobbies or things to do that interest you so your mind gets a break. The other part of always thinking about work work work is that your brain literally gets into a rut and without being refreshed, it's like a hamster on a wheel. The the wheel is spinning but not much good comes out of it. Your mind needs a refresh and a reset to be efficient and productive and to come up with solutions rather than just spinning in place.



I recently hired a guy who is similar and prone to your type of situation. Great work ethic, but very anxious and constantly trying to take on responsibility and liability that is ten miles above his pay grade and position. I've actually been extremely vigilant with him to keep him in check and to keep him from that. For example, there is nothing that he ever needs to take extra hours to do, but already he was going to take work home with just because I asked for a report. I literally had to chew him out about it and tell him categorically that he is NEVER to even consider taking work home and that there is nothing so urgent about his position that can't be accomplished in the 8 hours he is at work. The other day he came to me again anxious about how he is not producing this and that and again, I had to explain to him that what he is concerning himself with is really not his business and that he needs to just do what he has been assigned and no more. I don't want to kill his work ethic, but I don't want him to turn into someone who has no boundaries either. It's been a challenging management situation so far in terms of encouraging him in the correct direction while stopping him from going where he doesn't need to go.

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