Unwelcome chores – Spring-clean your working life

She wrote to tell me she had given up accountancy and was now training to be a commercial pilot. Questions posed at my time management seminar had triggered the change.

The same line of thinking could equally lead to a person giving up being a commercial pilot and deciding to become an accountant. For most of us, though, the changes need not be so dramatic.

Whenever I find myself a little low, perhaps only firing on two instead of four cylinders, I ask myself this same series of questions and negotiate my way back to a full life.

So here are the questions for you to consider during the holidays. Draw four large boxes in the sand and in the first one list what you love doing at work, in the second what you hate doing at work, in the third what you love doing in your private life, and the fourth what you hate doing in your private life.

Look at those lists and plan to rid yourself of all the boring, hated tasks and to fill your life with those activities you love.

How often do we pack our home life with tasks we hate; gardening, ironing, unproductive paperwork – or more likely we spend time feeling guilty about not performing them. Yet most of us have the funds to pay others to deal with these activities, or we could create a neighbourhood barter scheme to swap a dreaded task for an enjoyable one.

Who could do the things we loathe at work? Ideally someone for whom it would be a pleasure. It’s fun at my seminars to note that, for every hated task, there is someone in the room who loves it. We should swap parts of our jobs to maximise our love list and minimise the hate list. Then choose recruits to fill the missing enthusiasms. Most organisations are in a continual state of change, so there is plenty of opportunity to negotiate different work for ourselves. One of my friends has just completed his four-year master plan to change his working life.

Imagine creating a business where everyone came to work really looking forward to the day’s activities and challenges, where work was fulfiling and fun for each individual. We don’t all have to be pilots to make our lives fly.

Ann Baldwin, FCA, is a management trainer and speaker

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