Recently, I have had a surge of women in my office who are struggling with increased demands for their productivity. Workers are now required to do the work of two or three people. When someone is fired or leaves, corporations will often assign their job responsibilities to someone else without ever hiring to replace the person ( offloading). Interestingly enough, productivity has continued to increase due to these kinds of corporate speedup strategies. The companies continue to profit at the expense of the employee's health.
Unfortunately, many successful and highly motivated people are vulnerable to the belief that they are somehow defective if they can't keep up with the workplace demands and are fearful in this economy to challenge these expectations. This is especially true for my female clients and those that suffer from perfectionistic thinking.
Companies no longer seem to value investing in their employees. Someone less qualified or experienced who is willing to work harder and longer hours can easily replace you. Your health is not a real concern in the corporate world.
"Successful" and driven people will often sacrifice time during the evenings and weekends to meet these increased demands for productivity at the expense of their mental health, their family, and their marriages.
Another way employees try to meet increased productivity demands is to increase multitasking. Multitasking is the attempt to perform multiple tasks at the same time. There is, in fact, no such thing as multitasking. What you are doing is serial tasking or switching back and forth between two tasks.
People think multitasking is a helpful and useful way to meet increased productivity requirements; however, research consistently shows that multitask attempts decrease your effectiveness across the board. When you juggle between tasks, you lose time shifting your focus and reorienting yourself.
Multitasking increases your stress level, impairs your ability to focus and pay attention, and seems to impact memory negatively. People who multitask take longer to do tasks and do all of the task functions less effectively. Research now suggests that heavy multitaskers may permanently damage their ability to concentrate and focus, as well as their memory. They also seem less capable of differentiating between essential and frivolous information. This failure to discriminate accurately eventually impairs decision-making skills.
Check out a monotasking fact sheet here.
What is the solution?
Corporate speedup itself is a larger issue. It may take much more than merely increasing mindfulness to help employees meet unrealistic expectations. However, one thing that we do know is that multitasking is not the solution.
Eckhardt Tolle says if you find yourself in a situation that makes you unhappy, you can either change it, leave it, or decide to stay and accept exactly as it is. This may be good advice for a worker who is the victim of corporate speedup.
Working on changing it may consist of setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness, or speaking to your boss. Although corporations are to blame for much of the overwork and overwhelm, often I find in my clients that they are so vulnerable to feeling unsuccessful that they drive themselves even harder than is expected. Taking stock of what you may be doing to exacerbate this problem due to your belief systems may be a good strategy. If you are a perfectionist, for example, you may be particularly vulnerable to unreasonable expectations. You may feel that you must succeed and carry an unrealistic workload, or you are a failure. This is not true if you are doing the job of three people.
If you practice doing one thing at a time, some inefficiency and stress in your life will decrease. If you find yourself in a situation where your job's expectations are unrealistic, first stop multitasking. Schedule breaks to reset your mind and increase your effectiveness when working and practicing doing one thing at a time.
Leaving your job may consist of sacrificing the salary you make for one that doesn't afford you the same luxuries you currently have. Some people are already struggling to make ends meet, which may not be an option. For others, they have become stuck in the cycle of buying and spending. In this case, stepping back to look at this cost to your health and family may be advisable.
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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.