How do you make unpleasant work easier?

Some of you know that I started my career as an accountant and (briefly) a college accounting professor. It was a career that I chose because it was practical and – no surprise here – was totally unfulfilling for someone who wanted to be a writer. However the skills I learned have served me well as an entrepreneur, particularly in the area of doing my own accounting and taxes.

But there’s a problem. I really hate accounting, bookkeeping and taxes. So I throw my records into a Rubbermaid bin and deal with them in January. Then I complain for a couple weeks, get my records in order, and vow that the next year will be better.

This year I’m doing something different. A friend of mine, ironically also a former accountant, have joined forces for “Get It Done Accounting Days.” Even though we live in different states, we commit to working for three hours a week at the same time. Misery loves company and we are both making progress. I would highly recommend implementing this buddy approach if there’s something you’ve been avoiding (personally or professionally).

Today, write about how you “get stuff done” when you don’t want to do it. What works and what doesn’t? Have you tried the buddy approach?

Have you experienced burnout as an entrepreneur?

I’m in the process of writing a book about how to recover from burnout. This book is aimed at home-based entrepreneurs. I’m writing it because I feel it’s a big problem within the entrepreneurial community that nobody talks about.

Here’s the back story. I have been self-employed for more than 20 years. During this time I’ve done a lot of business coaching and networked with countless business owners. Many of us (myself included) have gone through periods of reduced productivity, depression, hating our business, not getting paid for work performed, being medically depleted, and feeling like a total failure. This is tough when you’re a business of one. There’s no cheerleader boss, sympathetic coworker, or Human Resources Department to help you find your way off the cliff!

More difficult is that we need to hide what’s going on. Whining, complaining and commiserating does not create the positive mindset that is expected by our clients. I recall interviewing a dentist at one point who shared how much he hated his work and his contempt for his patients. Ouch! I could tell that he needed help, however, as someone just assigned to write his biography, I didn’t feel it was my place to point this out.

Now I’m willing to attack this subject and I would love your help. Have you experienced burnout? Do you have a strategy to avoid burnout? Did you recover from burnout and learn lessons that you are willing to share? I would love to have a conversation with you and hear your story. (Our conversation will be confidential and your identity will be hidden in the book.) Please email me at Sue@SueAllenClayton.com and we’ll set up a time to talk. (Also, if you have a friend who is experiencing burnout, I’d love to talk to them too.) Thanks!

What can be improved in your workspace?

A participant in one of my Facebook groups recently asked people to share their monitor(s). Oh my goodness! I had a severe case of Monitor Envy. I use a modest, 26-inch HP monitor for all of my writing. I purchased this monitor at Best Buy for less than $200. Most of the people in the Facebook group had multiple large monitors, including very cool 34 inch curved monitors. Given the amount of time most of us spend sitting in front of a screen, I think having a good monitor is a great investment.

To make me feel worse, my monitor is currently propped up on three thick books (Social Media Marketing for Dummies, the 4-Hour Body, and Access 2010) to bring it to the correct height.. Every day I look at this makeshift support structure and know I could do better. Now that I’ve seen other people’s desks, I’m determined to either purchase a taller monitor or find a more aesthetically pleasing stand.

Today, write about something in your work space that could be improved. How long has it bothered you? Is it an easy fix? If possible, make the change and write about how it feels.

I should have been the squeaky wheel

Many of you know that I had a car accident in 2010 and herniated the disks in my neck. This has been a source of pain over the years and my treatment – by a very reputable pain management clinic — has been medication and trigger point injections into the muscle spasms on my shoulders. My understanding was that, because I still lived a full life despite pain, this “treatment” was considered a success and was all that could be done.

A few months ago I changed family doctors and he recommended another MRI on my neck (the last one was in 2011), as well as a second opinion on my pain management options. This MRI showed extensive bone spurs into my spine, which means that the pain is caused by nerve compression on my spine. No wonder the trigger point injections hadn’t worked for any length of time. The new pain specialist recommended a cervical epidural to reduce the swelling in my spine and the pressure on my nerves. The hope is to significantly reduce my pain level. Yippee!

When I got a second opinion, the new specialists were horrified that I’d spent six years receiving inadequate treatment. Why? Because I was not a “squeaky wheel” and didn’t demand more. I’d been relegated to a busy Physician’s Assistant and it was easier for him to keep repeating the same protocol than to review my case and suggest options. And I believed their “expert” opinion and didn’t look for other options.

Today, write about a time when you learned the benefit of being a “squeaky wheel.” Alternatively, write about a scenario when you took responsibility for your own health.