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Career Corner
A balancing act

Barbara Clements (The News Tribune) -- For all you dot-commers out there, especially those of you who are cooling your heels at home because of the industry meltdown, Molly Gordon has some advice: Get a life. Now.

If you're reaching for a list as you read this, put this suggestion at the top, not the bottom, she added.

Employed or not, we all benefit from having balance in our lives, said Gordon, a career counselor based out of Suquamish, north of Bainbridge Island.

She also stressed that it's impossible to maintain the balance between work, play and family every single minute of every day. Think of the quest for balance as more fluid than that, she advised.

"I think any other way of approaching it gets artificial real fast," Gordon said. "But it's dynamic, a moving target."

One key reason to have an interest outside work, one that you will truly make time for, is this: You're probably more productive at work if you have a hobby, interest or relationship to take your mind off the job, she said.

"I call it the 65 percent syndrome, and I particularly see it with people who are self-employed," she said.

Those working out of their home or at their own business seem to work all the time, but at only 65 percent efficiency, Gordon said.

"If they take days off once in awhile, or discipline themselves to leave their desk at home at a pre-set time, they are more likely to work harder, up to 100 percent efficiency, or at least 80 percent," she said.

Having other things in your life is particularly important when you don't have a job. This is where the displaced dot-commers need to listen up, she said.

"I think it gives an internal sense of equilibrium if you have some sort of structure to your day," she said.

This structure may take the form of meeting with a friend for a run each morning, scheduling an aerobics class each afternoon or gardening each day. Without this structure, "it might be hard to find the focus to go out and network, go to lunch or send out a resume," Gordon said.

Finally, Gordon emphasized that even if your life is in balance, it doesn't mean you will never feel stressed out ever again. Quite the opposite.

"If you live a life in balance, in an engaged way, you may feel more pain," she said. "All the lights are on inside and you're in there."

To begin the quest for balance, Gordon suggests that her clients start keeping a log of their days and what they do.

"I ask them to look at the list of activities they are engaged in," she said.

Then she asks them: "If no one knew you were doing this, would you still do it?"

"It helps them identify commitments that they may want to cancel," she said.

Gordon also manages a Web site on workplace balance at www.mollygordon.com.

(c) 2001 The News Tribune

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