Say Goodbye to Work Guilt

Working for a living is tough enough without being saddled with guilt. Maybe you want to spend more time with your kids or maybe you’re concerned about how it looks when you put in fewer hours than the guy in the next cubicle.

Whatever is causing your guilt trip, there is a cure. Try these tips for eliminating useless regrets and enjoying more job satisfaction.

Feeling Guilty about Your Family

1. Stress quality time. You can be a super parent even if you’re too booked up to attend every single soccer practice or bake 500 cupcakes. Make the hours you spend together count by sharing your love and wisdom with your children.

2. Serve as a role model. Women whose mothers worked outside the home are more likely to be employed, and earn higher wages than those whose mothers stayed home full-time, according to a Harvard Business School study of 24 countries. Studies also show that working mothers tend to be happier, and that’s a positive influence on your children.

3. Schedule after-school activities. How can you keep your kids safe and busy until you arrive home from work? Research after-school programs in your area. If your kids will be home alone, stay in touch by phone and clarify rules about homework and having friends over.

4. Ask for support. Balancing work and family responsibilities is a team effort. Divide up household chores. Take turns with other parents for babysitting or driving kids to the movies.

Feeling Guilty about Your Work Hours

1. Focus on results. Pay attention to productivity rather than how many hours you clock. Document your achievements and tackle your most challenging assignments during the hours when you work most efficiently.

2. Call in sick. Maybe your company offers sick leave or a lump sum paid time off. Either way, it’s safer to stay in bed if you’re contagious or have a fever.

3. Go on vacation. Many workers accumulate unused vacation days, and economists say that tends to lower performance and slow down the economy. Keep track of your leave and use your time off to refresh and relax.

4. Negotiate less overtime. Win your boss over by talking about how to reduce overtime costs. Investments in technology and training may help your company save money while shortening your work week.

5. Reduce travel. Similarly, many businesses have trimmed their travel expenses in recent years. Can you replace some trips with video conferences or hold your meetings at a local venue?

Other Sources of Work Guilt

1. Set boundaries. Smartphones and the Internet make us potentially available 24-7. Decide what limits you need, whether it’s weekends free or no calls after 7 pm.

2. Stay at home. Working from home is still working. After all, you’re saving on commuting time and may experience fewer interruptions.

3. Resist comparisons. Are you happy working part-time or following an unconventional career path? Create your own definition of success instead of worrying about how you stack up against the rest of your graduating class.

4. Dispel stigmas. On the other hand, maybe others tease you about selling used cars or delivering newspapers when you’re old enough to collect Social Security. Learn to base your self-worth on something more profound than your paycheck. Leverage your strengths and search for meaning in any task you undertake.

5. Develop outside interests. It’s easier to keep work in perspective when you’re well-rounded. Interact with others from a wide variety of backgrounds. Devote your leisure time to learning and helping others.

Dump your guilt so you can savor your time at home without feeling like you’re neglecting your work, and vice versa. Clarifying your priorities and managing your time effectively will help you to be guilt-free around the clock.

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