Workers with less time look to make most of it

Overwhelmed by the stresses of work? You're not alone. But some simple strategies could help ease the burden.

Associated Press
Published February 21, 2006

NEW YORK - Pity the guy who lost his job. But also pity the guy who kept his.

As companies run leaner operations with fewer workers, they're asking more from those still employed. While the increased productivity makes companies more profitable, the greater demands on workers can leave many feeling overwhelmed, burned out and losing any work-life balance they may have had.

It's no wonder, then, that there is increasing demand for time management training, in and out of the workplace.

"A lot of companies don't have as many people as they used to," said Sheila Adler, who teaches time management for the American Management Association. "But there are many other time challenges that can be stressful."

Adler ticks them off on her fingers:

--Information overload, thanks to barrages of e-mails, voice mails, letters and faxes.

--Changing priorities as companies reposition themselves.

--Stress from working long hours, missing kids' activities.

"We need to teach people to work smarter, not harder," Adler said.

David Fagiano, chief operating officer of Dale Carnegie Training, a global management training company in Hauppauge, N.Y., said he thinks there has been a permanent shift in the business world to pushing for higher worker productivity.

"You could say that's a hardhearted way to look at it, but in the bloated '80s, companies put so many people on payroll, added people willy-nilly, that they went under or couldn't compete with foreign companies."

At the same time, he added, some workers are making things more difficult than they need to be. "Most people, including me, do a lot of stuff that doesn't really make an impact," Fagiano said.

Julie Morgenstern, a time management expert and author of Never Check E-mail in the Morning , said companies and workers benefit when employees have good strategies for managing their workloads.

"Companies are conscious that people can't work this relentlessly and be effective," she said. "And some are focusing on work-life balance - insisting that their people take vacations, get home to have dinner with their families, things like that - because it helps them retain good employees."