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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Online Dating Struggles

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Chaotic Work Schedules and Online Dating Struggles

A friend of mine recently emailed me this bit of advice on being calm. The message read:

I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me and we all could use more calm in our lives. By following the simple advice I heard on a Dr. Phil show, I have finally found inner peace.

Dr. Phil proclaimed the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I started and hadn't finished; and, before leaving the house this morning finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Baileys, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of both Prozac and Valium prescriptions, the rest of the Cheesecake, some Saltines and a box of Chocolates.

It’s a cute joke, but there’s a morsel of truth in the sentiment that we could all use more calm in our lives. For example, I recently heard from an online dater that he was considering cancelling a dating site membership because work pressures were infringing on his free time and opportunity to pursue dating. In today’s uncertain economic climate people are often doing all they can to bolster their job security -- and that can mean working more and at odd hours that intrude into social schedules. Fortunately there are simple, overlooked solutions when it comes to battling pressures like these -- this “low hanging fruit” is streamlined work habits.

Below are some simple but powerful and cost-effective strategies based on best practice principles and leading-edge research on peak performance.  It’s my hope that these suggested work tips will enable you to get more done in less time, so that you’re dating time (online and offline) is maximized.

Tip #1: Adopt the habit of “doing the right thing.” Noted management expert Peter Drucker says that "doing the right thing is more important than doing things right." Doing the right thing is effectiveness; doing things right is efficiency. Focus first on effectiveness (identifying what is the right thing to do) at work and then concentrate on efficiency (doing it right). All other things being equal, the hierarchy below is excellent for helping you to identify and set priorities at work:

  • Focus on opportunity
  • Focus on the future, not the past
  • Focus on priorities that support your values
  • Focus on long-term fixes rather than the "quick fix."
  • Focus on problem preventing rather than problem solving
  • Focus on system-wide solutions rather than a local solution
  • Focus on high-impact priorities that matter to many people
  • Focus on breakthroughs rather than perfecting the status quo
  • Focus on feeding your elephants (big important stuff) and starving the ants (trivia)

Tip #2: Learn and live the 80/20 rule. 19th-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto's rules states that 80% of all that happens at work is really the result of 20% effort. For example, 80% of the dollar value of an inventory is often found in 20% of the items. 80% of all telephone calls come from 20% of the callers or 80% percent of meals ordered in a restaurant come from 20% of the items on the menu. With your goals, you can be 80% effective by achieving 20% of your goals. If you have a daily to-do list of ten items, you generally can expect to be 80% effective by successfully completing only the two most important items on your list.

Tip #3: Multi-tasking kills productivity. Though developed as a means of combating the ever increasing complexity of life, “multi-tasking” often results in perpetual oscillations between starting and stopping without ever completing a single task. The bottom line is multi-tasking is often a hindrance to productivity, not a help. Time-blocking on the other hand, allows employees to start, focus and finish. Time-blocking involves grouping daily tasks into a handful of categories and assigning each category a time to be worked on. Time blocking restores an employee's control over their working hours and promotes efficiency and proper prioritization.

Tip #4: Feed the elephants and starve the ants. Revisit and streamline your work practices to reduce obvious and innocuous time wasters that hinder your productivity. Look out for these common roadblocks –

External Time Wasters
Telephone interruptions
Unscheduled visitors
Lack of information
Excessive paperwork
Communication breakdown
Lack of policies and procedures
Lack of competent personnel
Red tape

Internal Time Wasters
Failure to delegate
Unclear objectives
Failure to plan and set priorities
Crisis management
Poor scheduling
Lack of self-discipline
Attempting to do too much at once
Lack of relevant skills

Please email me your suggestions and any techniques that have worked for you. Economic security is crucial, but sacrificing your social or love life to climb the corporate is not the ideal to many people. So please send me ideas about what has helped you to balance work and love life. Your suggestions will be shared in a future installment.


Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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