Monday, August 23, 2010

How busy is too busy?

I saw my doctor last Wednesday, who tells me I'm suffering from stress. This has manifested itself as stomach palpitations and psoriasis (ugh) on my legs. Oh, and my blood pressure is up, too. She told me I had to think about working less hours.

I looked at my diary carefully. Since March, I've had five, maybe six, weekends where I haven't had to do some kind of work for some client or other. I've been running a chamber of commerce during the week and building websites like a madwoman at weekends.

I work from 9 to 6 or after during the week with a cursory lunch break and usually 10 till 4 at weekends. I try to go for a walk before breakfast, but if I've lain awake worrying about work for a couple of hours at 2am I find it hard to get up again at 6. I try and ride a bike to the shops, or walk, but if I'm on a deadline for something that five minutes I save taking the car makes a mental difference. Doctor recommends walking or cycling :-). More exercise to help alleviate the stress in other words.

So I have a month before I see the doctor again, and she's told me that during that time I have to think seriously about my work and what I can give up. I'd love to give up the Chamber of Commerce as it's the work I enjoy the least these days. Sadly it's also regular money and 80% of my income at the moment. The thought of losing that money adds to the stress as it's 80% of not very much when all's said and done.

My husband has told me my health is the most important thing and he'll do whatever it takes to take up the financial slack if I cut myself free from the chamber to concentrate on work I actually enjoy doing... like websites and writing.

With social media obligations thrown into the mix looking after the chamber as a one-woman band has really become too much (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn - I have to add people to our group on those sites and input email addresses etc etc et flippin' cetera). I've spoken to my president and said I need help but realistically I need a succession plan, not just help, and I can't think of anyone in the member base who's daft enough to take on what I do for the number of hours each week I do it. I've refused help so far as I don't have the time to train someone or manage someone, but I think I'll have to bite the bullet and do it or self-implode.

On the plus side I took a complete day off yesterday; we went for a drive into the country. We were going to take the bikes but t'other half wasn't feeling fantastic so we elected to walk around some country towns on foot, poke about in antique shops and hit a specialist herb and rare plants nursery. I hardly had a stomach palpitation all day (unlike today, when I'm back at the desk).

So my goal is to find someone to take over my chamber job more or less completely by next year. I'd be happy still doing graphic and web stuff for the chamber, but not the admin, the banking, the events, the filing, the phone calls, the emails and everything else. During the last year I've had three acquaintances doing a similar chamber job to mine quit, burned out. There must be something in the air 'cos I'm going to add myself to the list.

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