This is part 4 of my 5 part series on life lessons I learned in business school that have nothing to do with business or education… After graduating with a business degree, you would think the most important things I learned would be about running companies. Yet, nearly 5 years later, I realize that some of the most important lessons I learned have nothing to do with business or education. You can reap all of my wisdom without having to pay back any of my student loans.
Lesson #4: No one told me to hire a housekeeper!
When you are working hard in your career to get ahead, you are often thinking about one basic—doing the best job possible. You might have to work nights and weekends from time to time to make this possible. You might take business calls on your private cell phone during non work hours to ensure that you are “excelling” at your job. You might pursue higher education like an MBA program to give you greater leverage at your job. I am not necessarily praising these practices. I am more acknowledging that they occur. What tax accountant doesn’t work long hours in tax season?
However, working at such an intense pace is well, taxing. It is taxing on the mind and body. Many people trying to get ahead stay later at work in lieu of going to the gym. Convenience foods replace healthy dinners since no one has the time to cook. Pretty soon, sleep is compromised as well. Fewer hours of sleep turn into more cups of coffee.
Usually two things happen in these kinds of workaholic situations. Most people become sick and recover but never goes back to the frenetic pace…it is just too difficult to live at that extreme. However there are a few rare souls who are able to keep up with such a pace. I used to believe that these people were unusually bright or just slept 4 hours a night and felt good.
I was wrong. These are the people who are competitive on time. They whole heartedly understood their limited time and maximized it in ways that do not occur to most people. They do not even consider grocery shopping for food or something cost effective like bringing a lunch to work. No, that would waste time, and time is crucial. They opt to trade the time of “shopping and making dinner or lunch for the next day” for going to the gym because working out is invigorating and reduces stress. This reduction in stress allows them to work long hours without the fatigue.
Women tend to opt for pretty short haircuts. With a short haircut you have to go to the salon more frequently to get your hair cut. However, on a daily basis it saves tons of time. It is far quicker than long hair to shampoo, blow dry, and style.
Successful workaholics tend to live very close to their job. They may pay far more in rent if they live in a major city. However, instead of spending precious time commuting, they turn their “commuting” time into work time. On a rare occasion, when they do leave from work on time, they never face the burden of the commute.
Finally, successful people who work really long hours have housekeepers. They realize that having more access to rest or recreation is more important that the satisfaction of not wasting money having someone clean your house. They also embrace the idea that it is more important that your house is clean and not who cleans it.
I learned all of these tips from women in my MBA program. We were all enjoying wine after class one evening. I learned that all of these women had someone to clean their houses except me. I did consider having someone clean my house. It was always in disarray when I was in school and it was “one more thing to worry about”. Yet, I thought it would seem presumptuous if I had a housekeeper or that I was a princess-to posh to get my hands dirty. I really missed the point. I had a demanding job and a demanding part time MBA program. I could have lived much more peacefully if I just had someone come twice a month to clean my small house. I would have had the peace knowing it was clean and knowing it was going to stay clean. I really wished someone had told me to hire a housekeeper during the first semester at business school.
I learned this lesson around my last semester of business school. It was too late to apply it to school, but I did learn to apply it to life. For many things in life it isn’t a matter of who performs the job it is a matter that the job gets done. Hence when I had three children under the age of four, we hired people to come and help me with the kids during the day. It was a really busy time in our family. Having help allowed me to keep the house neater and give the children more attention. Moreover the peace of mind that I had when I knew someone was coming over to help was priceless.
Was there ever a time when your performance at work would have benefited from hiring a housekeeper, having a shorter commute, or ditching preparing meals, or something else which would allow you access to more rest or relaxation?
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