There are 168 hours in a week. Many of us work about 40 hours each week. Some of us may work more, less or not at all. I have worked plenty of 22 hour work days and 100 hour work weeks. But this is not a race on how fast we can burnout.
After working with Digital Asset Management for a number of years, there is constantly more to do. The work and data multiples over time and the way it happens is much less fun than how rabbits multiply.
Schedules fill up and then get double booked. And there is plenty of fighting fires as well. Eating gets postponed past dinner. Sleeping is postponed again. Breathing got canceled too.
Scaling and automation is explored in any way that will increase accuracy, efficiency and effectiveness. Otherwise, mentions of cloning ones self continue to arise.
Weekends evaporate into part of the work week. Then holidays become more time to focus on work. Then vacation time vanishes. Another high priority project get scheduled over a planned vacation. Again. Last time I did take some vacation days (vacation hours), I was emailed and called in a panic to fix something critically important. Did I forget to mention I how much I love not having backup (person) to resolve these kind of matters? How dare I sleep at 3:00 AM or become sick or go on vacation. My no-life membership card might get revoked.
Projects come and go. Or simply accumulate because of some other new priority. Or resolve some [fire] of the day. Not to worry, the world still spins whether we are working or not. Deadlines may fall behind if a user [forgot] something important. These projects have a closing date, right?
Dealing with time
There are 168 hours in a week. What do you do with those hours?
Document what you do with your time and find out. Regardless of whether you:
- are hourly or salaried
- have a time sheet to fill in or not
Note every task you work on during each block of time.
How long did you spend on each of these tasks? Build metrics. Note patterns. Adjust accordingly.
I happen to add this information to my online calendar(s) everyday (before or after the occurrence) so it is recorded in one place for the purposes of weekly reports, improving my time management (eliminating wastes of time and pin pointing what really takes up my time every week).
This also documents the time spent for others to see later on, to help prove whether you need help to scale the efforts of digital asset management within your organization beyond the one person who is often solely dedicated to this. Imagine this. One person, workload tripling each year. How do you prove you need assistance to the business people in your organization?
- Ask for assistance (do not whine)
- Prove you need assistance with your documented work hours on xyz tasks completed over a given period of time (such as a few quarters or a year).
- Prove the workload is increasing with measurable numbers.
All of these tasks may be necessary, but it will help identify and document what takes up your time so you can realize “Oh, it is Tuesday and I have already worked 40 hours this week. Again. This is normal, is it not?”
Find out what tasks really eat up most of your time.
In a perfect world, I divide all my waking hours with an uneven balance between:
- Work time
- Family time
- Friend time
- Me time (alone)
Moderation is one of the keys. Excess of anything is not a good idea.
While you may be the internal representative and/or go-to person for the DAM system, you are not the DAM system. Do not take it personally when the DAM does not work “perfectly.” If there is criticism or suggestions to improve the DAM, get this in writing (email usually works) from the person making the comment. Then, prioritize it among all other tasks and address it accordingly. There may be very valid points made, so keep your ears open and listen.
The reality is each of us is just one person, but we are not alone. You should refer to others when they may know more about a particular topic. I refer to others often because I do not pretend to know better about everything.
Getting the work done
I love to get the work done right the first time. I thrive on it. The key is getting it done right. Right is done the best you can. It needs to be right, not perfect. Nothing is perfect because everything can be improved over time.
Anyone in today’s working world has stress. Or they simply do not do anything.
What matters is how you deal with stress. Not how much you have. Realize what you are involved in and some its drawbacks. Then, realize there are things you can control and things can not control.
Many wondered how I work so much at my regular job and still find time to write this blog over the past few years. Lack of sleep is one answer. Not a good idea though. Time management of my 168 hour week to the extreme? Scheduling sleep cycles as necessary. Not a good idea either. You might note I post to my blog much less often. That is because I sleep more now. I also found recording and editing podcasts faster than writing my long form blog posts. Sleeping 6 to 10 hours is a really good idea. Don’t worry, the work will still be there when you awaken. The earth does not stop rotating for anyone.
Watch your health
Your body is telling you something, but are you listening? If and when you do lose your health, you may not be able to care for yourself nor anyone else. Your health is worth paying close attention to.
If your work is negatively affecting your health (mentally and/or physically) that should be a clear sign you need to address the issue and take action to resolve it. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be one. It is your life. Literally.
What do you consume
How did I get a dozen empty coffee cups on my desk today? Oh wait, they are all mine. From today.
- Stay hydrated (just add water)
- Eat right (something dispensed from a vending machine does not equal breakfast, lunch and dinner)
When is it time to move on
Do not give up. Everyone has a different threshold. Some people can take more than others. We are all tested in one way or another.
For every position I have had since my very first job, I look at the following:
- Can I make a difference?
- Am I listened to?
- Am I treated well?
- Is this what I want to do?
- Am I paid well?
I believe if none (or only one) of five questions has been answered with a yes, it is time to move on.
Listen to your family and friends
If you have an issue like being a workaholic (know any?), they will likely tell you at some point. If during social interaction (yes, with real live people. Not just virtually) the only stories you remember are work related, they may take notice. But do you notice? Some people are more vocal than others. The vocal ones care to tell you what no one else is telling you. Listen. There may be some logic in there somewhere. This is one of the reasons to make time for them. They may even want to spend time with you. Imagine that.
Are you always connected?
Do you really need to be? You may need a digital diet. Take the free quiz to find out if you need one.
If you’d like to connect, let us know when you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management.
How do you avoid DAM burnout?
November 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Congratulations on evolving into a higher sphere as a DAM master, not to mention as a more self-aware human. Re-read daily to maintain highest level of effectiveness.
November 29, 2011 at 5:40 PM
Henrik de Gyor brings up many valid points and recommendations in this post. Being from a video post production background working with ad companies I know what it is like burning the candle at both ends. There is nothing like the taste of adrenaline when you are working with a crack team to get the job done, no matter what. But when I found myself alone finishing up at 4am on a Saturday to join my pregnant wife at home, I realized things had gone to far, so I made adjustments and was much happier. I think it is all about finding the right balance for yourself. Everyone’s different. Now that I am transitioning myself into the DAM profession, I am sensing that all-to-familiar feeling of the adrenaline rush. So this post is a good reminder: the challenge is being able to decide when to set down the work (whether it’s turning off your phone or just going home) and being okay with it. No matter how fast you work, how efficient or brilliant you are, there will always be work waiting for you. And isn’t that a good thing?
April 27, 2012 at 9:19 AM
It is a great idea to attempt to track your hours over the work week. Right now I am a fulltime grad student who works part time and sleeps part time. From logging my hours for the work week I found on the day I average:
5 hours of sleep (broken into a 3 and 2 hour nap)
7.0 hours of working
1.5 hours of working out
2.0 hours of reading
2.75 hours on homework
1.0 hours cooking/cleaning
1.0 hour showering/getting ready
2.0 hours surfing the internet
1.0 hour watching television
0.75 hour driving
Burnout and getting stressed out is something that has been prevalent in many of the social service jobs I’ve had. It took me a while to understand that you are actually doing everyone a disservice by working yourself to the bone.
Noticing that every story you are telling is work related is something that I’ve run into. Realizing that you simply don’t make time for anything besides work and/or school can be upsetting and eye-opening. I remember not even wanting to answer when people asked me “what’s new?” because it was all school/work all the time.
The “digital diet” is a clever idea. Sometimes being too connected can be a very distracting phenomena where you so wired it is hard to “let go” and be “off.”
May 1, 2012 at 9:01 AM