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When Work Gets in the Way of Work

By Steve Jones,

This editorial was originally published on October 21, 2014. It is being republished as Steve is on vacation.

It seems I find myself in this situation more and more. I've got work to do at SQLServerCentral. There's a constant stream of articles to edit, content to review and schedule, questions to build, and of course, writing these pieces on data related topics. That goes on 220+ days a year, as we keep the site going and send a newsletter every weekday of the year.

However the last few years I find myself crunched to get work done in my work week with the addition of other tasks to my routine. I've moved from 2-3 events and 5-6 presentations to 20+ events and closer to 40 talks a year that I deliver. Not only is there a high frequency of events, but there's also a number of new presentations to build. It seems I have 3-4 (at least) new talks to assemble, which can be quite time consuming. That's in addition to keeping SQLServerCentral moving.

This isn't different than many of the jobs I've had in the past. Often I've had a set of tasks that I need to work through regularly. Whether these were admin tasks, or development projects, I usually have found that I can develop a routine throughout most weeks. However things crop up. Bug fixes are reported, or hardware fails, or some other project takes some priority, but I need to somehow fit this into my week, along with everything I normally do.

It's tough, and I think far too many people with salaried jobs try to just work harder and longer to complete their work. That makes some sense for a short period of time (2-4 weeks), but after that it's a mistake. Productivity declines and people burn out. They become cranky, and more importantly, they lose a substantial portion of their life over time.

I've learned to push back when things become too busy, and while I've had managers that weren't thrilled, even angry, almost all of them understood the problem and worked with me and others to change things.These days that means I cancel or skip events. More often I decline to accept engagements in the future to bring balance into life.

This month is tough, with a lot of commitments made months ago, and flying to the UK this week doesn't help. However I've learned a few things about scheduling my time this year and hopefully I'll do a better job next year.

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