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2011, A Year of Overwork or Underwork?

This was one of the strangest years I've experienced when writing about work life balance. Either people were COMPLETELY STRESS OUT with too much work or they were FRUSTRATED from having no job or too little work. I made an attempt to sum it all up in my Miami Herald column.


The Miami Herald

For most Americans, 2011 was the year of overwork or underwork.Almost universally, stress hit an all-time high as American workers tried to cope with the new reality that work now follows them wherever they go with their mobile devices. Attorney Fred Karlinsky described his resistance to putting down his BlackBerry — regardless of whether it’s 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. “I owe it to clients to respond when they need an answer,” he told me

.Add that to the do-more-with-less attitude and obsession with productivity adopted by today’s bosses and that makes work/life balance even more difficult to achieve.

Earlier this year, I dared to put the question out there: Can you control after-hours work demands without getting fired or losing a customer?

My favorite response came from Wayne A. Hochwarter, a professor of management at Florida State University. It’s all about communication, he said. Maybe you’re answering emails at 10 p.m., but your manager doesn’t expect you to be on call at all hours. You may have inadvertently communicated the wrong message: that you don’t mind the infringement on your personal time. It’s possible to pull back — if you are clear about how you plan to handle their needs during the workday, he said.Around mid-year, I saw the trend toward overwork intensifying and affecting relationships.

 People were making less time for spouses and some were even feeling too exhausted for sex. How crazy is it that iPhone glare has replaced candlelight as the backdrop for bedroom romance?

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