Workplace stress taking toll on workers

What nasty event is going to make you reassess your work style and killer pace?


My friend and I were sitting in a restaurant catching up on one another’s lives when her cell phone rang. For the next thirty minutes, she was on her phone four times, trying to resolve a problem at work. After a rushed dinner, she went back to the office, “…just to check on things.” It was 10 o’clock at night. Three weeks later her heart rebelled and she ended up in the emergency room.


Another colleague confided, “I wish someone would have pushed the question, ‘How much is enough?’ with my wife and me when we were both working like crazy—and drifting apart. Now it’s too late.”


I used to be the poster child for Workaholics Anonymous. In the early days of building my business, I worked long hours and every weekend.  I knew I was over the edge when I fantasized about breaking my leg on a ski trip. “Maybe I can go the hospital and get some rest for awhile, “ I thought. I knew then I had to change my lifestyle.


Burnout is on the rise. The flagging economy has forced lean companies to get skinnier and workloads to reach legendary proportions. It used to be that you’d have a couple of years to make mistakes before you were really expected to perform. Now you’re under immediate and constant pressure to perform. It may be time to reassess your work/life balance.


Are you a nasty event waiting to happen?


·        Do you call after hours or leave emails, just so you don’t have to talk to people because you simply don’t have time for small talk?

·        Do you have a hard time remembering the last time you had a leisurely lunch with a friend?

·        Are your vacation days piling up?

·        Do you keep canceling or putting off something you really want to do?

·        Do you multi-task: pay bills, cook dinner and do the laundry all at the same time?

·        Have you started to forget things or lose things?


Here are a few ideas from people who have had an event that stopped them in their tracks. Why not examine your situation before catastrophe strikes? These are  simple ideas to help you go beyond making a living to making a life:


·        The comic book character, Pogo, once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Much of our stress is self-inflicted. Start examining the “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” in your life.

·        If you are on the verge of burnout, take a few weeks to assess and think about it,  before making any drastic moves.

·        Start using technology instead of letting it use you. Don’t vault across tables or interrupt dinner to pick up the phone. Pick up the message when you’re ready.

·        Don’t take your laptop with you on vacation. Period.

·        Delegate as many duties as you possibly can. For instance, my friend now assigns another person to be the technical backup person during second shift.

·        Avoid the steamroller effect. You’ve heard the old saying, “When you want something done, give it to a busy person.” That is because once you have a head of steam the momentum causes you to take on more and more.

·        Say “No,” to evening events. Pull back on networking and professional meetings. Drop off of outside committees. You can always rejoin when (if) your pace slows down.

·        Get to bed earlier. If you’re staying up late doing chores, it’s time to get the rest of the family to pull their weight.

·        Ask people close to you to help you with the overload. For example, when my coworker sees me making copies when she knows I have important deadlines, she'll ask me, “Is this the best use of your time?”

·        Handle things only once. The tendency is to push decisions aside when we’re busy. They keep building up until we feel overwhelmed with things to do. Instead, take five minutes now and make a decision. You’ll feel relief instantly.

·        Be with people who appreciate you and who don’t talk about work.

·        Don’t be afraid to let your family and coworkers know you are feeling pushed and ask them to help with little things you normally do.

·        Leave your desk and go have lunch at an outdoor cafĂ© with no one but yourself for company.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.