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Dr. Matt Grawitch: October 2010 Archives

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All too often, people try to have it all! They want a career that fulfills them, they want a family life that they value, they want to pursue hobbies, friendships, and an active social life.

Is it a surprise that trying to have too much can actually lead to greater levels of stress and burnout?

Instead, we should be giving more thought to how we allocate the limited personal resources we have. People often forget that they have a limited amount of time, energy, and money to leverage in responding to life’s demands. Anything that takes time, energy, or money taxes those resources - even if it’s something we want to do (rather than have to do).

Most people are motivated to monitor the amount of resources they allocate to activities that are “required” (things we don’t like to do). But many people fail to monitor the way they allocate resources to “preferred” demands (like hobbies, family, or sports). This can lead to difficulties in responding to all of the different demands that we face (both required and preferred), which can lead to fatigue, burnout, work-life conflict, and other negative outcomes.

Instead, people can find a better balance by paying attention to how they allocate their resources. Some ways to do that include:

  • Managing your time – Figure out how to best use your time
  • Finding more efficient ways to do things – Acquire new competencies and skills to improve the speed with which you accomplish tasks
  • Learning to prioritize preferred demands -  Figure out which preferred activities are most important to you and allocate more resources to those
  • Taking opportunities to exercise your autonomy – Learn to say “no” when necessary and be more proactive (when possible) in planning your schedule

Though there are ways to increase the amount of energy (such as through exercise or nutrition) and financial resources (such as through promotions or bonuses) we have, if we fail to effectively manage our resources, then we will likely end up in the same place as before – taking on too many demands for our existing resources – which puts us back to being exhausted and depleted.

So, give some thought to how you currently manage your personal resources. What might you change or improve? How can you make those changes or improvements a reality? I’d love to know what you think on this topic.

Photo Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/yamagatacamille / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0