Feel guilty at work? It’s not you

An open office with many people on MacBooks. One man has his hands on his head.

Ever feel guilty when you want to head home early because you have dinner plans—and you’ve already done a ton of work today?

Or when you take a sick day even though it’s really busy at work? Or when you work from home to accept delivery of a piece of furniture and you “only” spend four hours working (even though you get as much done as you would in a day at the office)?

Or do you perhaps feel guilty for having the gall to actually use your vacation days?

Corporate culture has a habit of making us feel guilty for wanting totally normal things. If you need a break from your long commute and from grinding away at your job, then you need a break. It’s that simple.

Except it’s not.

In many companies, management does not trust you. And their lack of trust leads them to try to control you in all sorts of ways:

  • They expect you to be at work from nine to five (as opposed to when and where it is most efficient for you to get stuff done)
  • They schedule regular meetings to ask what you’ve been up to (as opposed to waiting for you to hit a natural milestone and then reporting on what you did)
  • You need permission from your boss to take vacation at a certain time
  • Your boss checks up on you more often than usual when you work from home 

If you’re unhappy with the ways in which your employer tries to control you or your time, I want you to know that it’s not you. It’s them.

And the good news is: you don’t need to put up with it. There are better employers out there. Or you could start working for yourself.

Step one is to say: I don’t accept this anymore. I respect myself too much. I am ready to make a change.

Yours,

— Peter

P.S. Are you tired of corporate BS? Do you want to work with people who do trust you? I can help you get there. Let’s talk (it’s free).

Can you go through life playfully?

A man, gesturing strongly, speaks to an audience in a café.

Earlier this week, I attended a meeting of a local Toastmasters club. (Toastmasters is an international organization of clubs for people who want to improve their public speaking.)

When I registered to attend as a guest, I received a confirmation email from the Vice President of Membership. I chuckled at her formal title and maybe I rolled my eyes a bit too.

Perusing the organization’s website before the event, Toastmasters meetings struck me as incredibly organized. Each evening, there are four speakers, and four people to evaluate those speakers. There is someone to evaluate the evaluators, someone to count “ahs”, someone to keep track of the time, and more. I like having structure, but I dislike pompousness, so I wondered whether I’d click with the club members.

Fortunately, they were very relaxed and friendly. They followed the Toastmasters structure and rules, but there was plenty of humor and lightheartedness. I had a blast and I will certainly be coming back to this club.

Anyway, all this got me thinking: are you able to go through life playfully? At work and at home, can you crack jokes? Do others take themselves too seriously, making life boring or miserable for everybody else?

As I like to say, you won’t feel good if you don’t align with the values of the people around you. So if you value playfulness, as I do, and the people you work with don’t, or your partner doesn’t—that’s not a recipe for long-term happiness.

Yours,

— Peter

Not very good at managing your time? That’s okay

A planner with mug of coffee on top of it.

You are ambitious and you want to work on your personal projects. But getting to those projects requires that you manage your time well. You’re already busy, after all.

It’s tough to find the time and energy for your projects—even if you really care about them—when you work full time. In the evenings and weekends, you want to relax a bit too.

When you do find yourself with time, it can be difficult to get started. What should you work on first? Are you even ready for this? What good will it do to start a project that you can’t finish, because you don’t have enough time anyway? Procrastination can be killer.

The thing is, managing your own time is a skill. It requires practice.

In school, in college, and in your corporate job, there is pre-existing structure for your time. You attend classes; you attend meetings; your professor or boss sets deadlines.

When you’re working on your own thing, that structure isn’t there. Learning to deal with the lack of structure is a challenge. But you’ll get better as you practice.

So, it’s okay if you’re not very good at managing your own time.

How can you improve? First, allow yourself to work inefficiently right now. Doing so, at first, is no problem at all. Second, organize your projects, even just a little. That helps you identify where to start.

Third, ask for help. Find someone with experience managing their own time and learn from what they do. Ask for advice and experiment.

Finally, if you want consistent, one-on-one help, you can hire me to help you, too.

Yours,

— Peter

Stop working for The Man; it’ll be good for everybody

Three women, one in focus. The woman in focus smiles broadly and wears a hat that reads "Beautyrobic: feel so sexy".

When you stop working for The Man and start doing your own thing, that’s good for everybody.

It’s good for your family. You can spend more time with them. If you have kids, you can get to know them better and teach them more. 

It’s good for your neighborhood. You might end up spending a lot of time in coffee shops, getting to know people and boosting the local economy. 😉

It’s good for the city. You won’t commute during rush hour, which lessens the load on the city’s public transportation or on the roads.

It’s good for the planet. You commute less. 

It’s good for your customers/clients. You can deliver a top-notch product or service to the people you serve, without worrying about corporate bureaucracy or what your boss will think.

Finally, it’s good for you. You develop new skills. It’s less stressful (if you do it right). You have more free time. You can earn more (by selling your value and not your time). You have more opportunities to meet people. And, most importantly, you gain autonomy.

So what are you waiting for?

Yours,

— Peter

P.S. Are you wondering whether you want to work for yourself? Let’s talk. Sign up for a free 30-minute discovery call and I’ll give you some pointers. No strings attached.

How to get to personal projects while working a day job

A man, holding a sprocket, behind a bicycle that's turned upside down.

Most evenings, you have no energy left. After you get home, you just want to veg out. Have a nice dinner and watch some TV.

At the same time, you are ambitious. There are many personal projects you’d work on, if only you had more time—and more energy.

How can you make time and energy for your personal projects while working a day job?

The answer isn’t to hustle. You don’t need to forgo your lunch breaks or work like a maniac during your 20-minute train ride to work. You certainly don’t need to get up insanely early to work on your projects before you head to work. In fact, that would only make things worse, as you’d probably lose out on sorely-needed sleep.

If you force yourself to work on your personal projects when what you really need is a break, you might end up burning out or resenting those projects.

Instead, work smarter. Spend less time and energy on your day job. There are ways to do that while performing as well as you always have. Here are some things you could do:

  • Spend less time commuting by regularly working from home.
  • When working from home, spend part of your day working on your own projects. (If you work efficiently, without the distractions that exist at the office, you will still get plenty done for your day job.)
  • Better yet, move to being evaluated on your output, not your input.
  • Work four days a week at your day job. (Do the math; it might lower your income less than you think.)
  • Change jobs; find one that’s less exhausting and that’s closer to home.

I realize that it will take some effort to try these things. For example, your boss might not immediately be thrilled at the idea of you working part time.

But if you want to pursue your own projects, the alternative is never making any progress on them and always feeling guilty and disappointed. 

Yours,

— Peter