Do you suffer from “Martyrdom addiction”?

According to a recent survey by LinkedIn, greater work/life balance is one of the most compelling motivators when deciding whether or not to accept a job offer.


But it can be difficult to maintain in any work scenario, so here are 7 winning ways to readdress your work zen…




On average, we check our emails a whopping 40 times an hour! B.I. “Before Internet” working life seemed so much less stressful and complex. Companies and individuals need to reconsider their productivity levels versus the pointless stress that emails bring.


Take Action: Trial a week of minimizing checking emails to 3 or 4 key points during the day and measure the impact it has on productivity and stress levels.




Sounds an obvious one? Again we can point the blame at email and the use of smartphones. They create a preoccupied ‘need’ to be thinking about work. This only provides for a rushed and overloaded feeling which is really common. If you work from home, making the distinction is often harder.


Take Action: ‘Download’ the things on your mind before you leave work, and make a focused results-orientated plan of attack for the next day or preferably for the week. Shut everything off and LEAVE IT at work!




Naturally, ‘NO’ is not a word to use at all costs, as you will be saying ‘YES’ to a few things too. However if it’s about extra responsibilities that will impact on your work/life balance, then there are some good techniques to deploy.


Take Action 

i) If it’s additional work someone is asking you to do, say you’ll get back to him/her once you’ve had time to assess your diary. Better still if you have more time to think about it, strategy will come into play and you may be able to negotiate – especially if it’s a member of the senior management team!

ii) If your answer is going to be NO, the Transactional Analysis technique of ‘broken record’ is really useful.

  • Keep your eye on the goal – that of saying ‘no’
  • Actually say the word NO and keep saying it at every opportunity, every time another appeal is made to your good nature, your impeccable skills, etc.



The New Trend: Sleep hacking!! Training your mind and body to need less sleep. A very worrying trend!

In its advice on the matter, the Mental Health Foundation counsels: “Work smart, not long.” What does that mean in practice? “This involves tight prioritisation – allowing yourself a certain amount of time per task – and trying not to get caught up in less productive activities, such as unstructured meetings that tend to take up lots of time.”

British productivity remains low while the number of hours we work exceeds that of some of our European neighbours. One result of this is the dismal array of statistics set out by the Mental Health Foundation: when working long hours 27% of employees feel depressed, 34% feel anxious and 58% feel irritable.


Take Action: Be productivity aware, plan your day for maximum results and ask yourself ‘what are my 2 or 3 major outcomes for the day’? Meaning if you get big enough compelling reasons to carry out your major outcomes, productivity flies through the roof! And the unnecessary stuff gets pushed to the bottom of the pile or better still – delegated to someone else.


5) Beware of – MARTYRDOM ADDICTION or the “BUSY” syndrome

‘I’m just so busy’. ‘I’ve got to do everything round here’. Do these sentences ring a bell? Do you feel put upon and resentful while at the same time hogging all the work? If so, martyrdom could become an addiction for you, pushing you to take on more, draining you physically and emotionally and raising your stress levels.

Take Action: Being busy all the time isn’t good for the soul. This is largely about EGO and is also quite infuriating for the people around you. Be aware of yourself and what may be adding unnecessary stress to your life.



It’s thrilling, it’s a state of readiness, it’s ‘fight or flight’ and it’s also very productive. However, in practice you can only run on this for so long, without needing some sugar or coffee in desperation for that next high! Then it’s too easy to keep pushing yourself, never giving yourself time to come down. Sooner or later you’re running on empty, unable to relax, sleeping badly and on a short fuse. These are the warning signs.

Take Action: Give yourself time to come down and feel tired. Don’t worry if you feel depleted, low and twitchy for a while – it’s the adrenaline draining away. Given time, it will pass. Keep a strong focus on work at work, leave on time and use those extra hours to enjoy life.



Luckily – everyone is different, there are no rules. If you feel your equilibrium is off kilter, it’s up to you to make adjustments. Sorry gents but women are better at the intuition part then men. Saying I ‘ought to’ or ‘should’ are red flags that you should pay attention to.

Take Action: Take time every week to re-evaluate your key goals and your personal time. If you are completely out of sync, consider booking a quiet trip away just on your own, 3-4 days in a nice quiet retreat in the sun could do wonders for readjusting your priorities.


And, it’s not just all about you. If you run your own business or have a number of employees, these 7 steps for better work/life balance and ultimately better productivity are invaluable for your team too.


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