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24/7 Philosophy Is Creating Epidemic of Weary Workers


Although Ulman and Simmerman say that society heaps praise on those who take a 24/7 approach to their career, Lamm says that attitude may be changing. "If one looks at a profession such as medicine, you can see that attitudes are changing," says Lamm. "Medicine no longer permits doctors to work the kind of hours we used to work." For example, New York law now bans 24-hour on-call schedules for doctors-in-training.

So is there a cure? Yes, say an endless supply of experts offering ways to restore balance in one's life.

Richard Chang, PhD, of Richard Chang Associates Inc., an Irvine, Calif. performance-improvement training company, tells WebMD that most people who claim to be exhausted "haven't found their life's passions." The difference between those who have found their passion and those who haven't is the difference between toiling through a day's work or "being enthralled with what one is doing." Being "enthralled" doesn't mean shorter days at the office -- even more hours may actually be spent at work -- but "you will lose track of time and your energy level will actually be higher."

Taking a cue from the everything-you-need-to-know-you-learned-in-kindergarten philosophy, Chang's first inspiration for a passion-based approach to life comes from his first business: a lemonade stand he started when he was 8. Since then, he's authored two books on his approach, The Passion Plan and The Passion Plan at Work.

Anne Warfield, a consultant who runs Impression Management Professionals in Minneapolis, says that "creating a life plan and then sticking to it" can alleviate hyper exhaustion. The plan, she says, "includes everything you want -- health, family life, career."

With the plan in hand, one can sit down and "decide what you need to do to accomplish the plan goals." She says that she and her husband mapped out their life plan three years ago and since that time "our lives have completely changed."

For example, Warfield says that she and her husband decided to work together in the consulting business so that they could determine their own work hours, an arrangement that allows for more time for family meals and outings with their children.

L. Michelle Tullier, PhD, an Atlanta-based time management consultant and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, tells WebMD that most people feel overwhelmed or exhausted when their values come into conflict with their priorities.

She says, "there is nothing wrong with living a values-based life, but when faced with day-to-day realities [for example, balancing work and family], people experience high levels of guilt and stress when their values collide [as in, 'I love my kids more than my job but I must go on this business trip']. My solution to this quandary is to recognize that values and priorities are two different things."

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