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I am an admin staff and reports directly to at least three different bosses.  In addition to them, their own bosses are also my bosses. I’m stressed and harassed doing the tasks of these bosses, all of whom are always on an urgent mode.  My company prides itself on being a lean and mean organization.  Everyone is stretched to the max doing multiple tasks.  I go home not earlier than 8 pm most days.  There is just so much to be done.  I am also a wife and mother to two children whom I neglect to supervise in their studies because I feel so tired when I get home from work.  But, I don’t like to resign from my job because I’m already 42 years old and it is difficult to get a job at my age.  Also, my pay and benefits are quite ok, and I like the company I’ve been working for these past five years.

Ms. Harassed

 

By just reading your letter, I can feel your physical and emotional fatigue due to serving many bosses, all of whom give you urgent tasks to do.

I can not advise you to manage your time because you have no power to do so.  Your bosses control your time.  You can, however, manage yourself, i.e. your reactions to your bosses.  You can choose to be assertive or to be non-assertive.  In the latter, you continue to accept all the tasks given to you, and doing them with the attitude of a martyr.  The consequence of this is that your physical, mental and emotional health suffers.  Your relationship with your family suffers, too.  You feel guilty about your negligence of your family.   You dislike and eventually hate yourself.  Your other option is to be assertive, not aggressive.

There are five assertive ways you can do to avoid/minimize stress that will damage your physical, mental and emotional health, and erode your self-esteem as well:

First:  List down the tasks given to you by your bosses and ask them to prioritize them for you.  The traditional way of prioritizing tasks consists of the following:

A – Important and urgent tasks
B – Important but not urgent tasks
C – Not important but urgent tasks
D – Not important and not urgent tasks

When a boss calls you or comes to you to give you a task, respectfully ask them to put it into the appropriate column.  In this way, they know how loaded you are with the A tasks.  If there are a number of A tasks, ask your bosses to prioritize them into A1, A2, A3, A4, and so on.

Second:  Do take your breaks: 15 mins. mid morning, 1 hour for lunch and 15 mins. mid-afternoon.  Put a sign on your desk that says:  Break Time or Lunch Time.  Get out of your work area during break time.  Take your lunch out of the office so you have a change of scenery.  The break will be good for your physical; mental and emotional health.

Third:  Ask your boss if you can work on the tasks they have given you only until 7 pm because you have to go home to take care of the needs of your own children.

Fourth:  Make a record of the length of time it takes you to do a task so that you can give this information to your bosses if they give you tasks to be done, and to rush them.

Fifth:  Monitor and record the tasks you do for the day.  I suggest a chart like the one below that you can easily fill out and is visible to you and to your bosses.

Priority Task Given by Approximate length of time to accomplish Time to start Time to finish Remarks
A1 Report on weekly sales with daily sales figure JGS 30 mins. 8:15 am 8:45 am Done
A2 Proposal to XYZ Corp with attachments JOS 30 mins. 8:50 9:20 Done
A3 Call up Mr. Ganzon of ABC Corp. DSU 5 mins. 9:25 9:30 Done

Keeping a chart like this one will serve as a feedback to your bosses and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Do not assume that if you are assertive, your bosses will be angry at you.  Think positive of them: assume that they will be reasonable; that they will understand that you have family obligations, too; and that you have your own personal needs, such as need to rest and relax (in order to re-charge you), need to socialize, etc.

There are employees who accept all the tasks given to them but criticize or bad mouth the people who give them these tasks.  This is not good for your professional image; neither for your soul.  Exhausted and stressed employees become ineffective; they may accomplish the tasks given to them but they become irritable and impatient with their peers, with employees of lower status and even with external customers.
I’m not in favor of you working late in the office or doing work on Saturday unless urgently needed.  To do so will affect the quality of your life.  You may not have work/life balance but at least give yourself a break for you are a human being with basic needs to satisfy and values to actualize.

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria

I have just graduated from high school here in our town.  I want to go to college to study but my parents are very poor.  They want me to go to Manila to work and to study at the same time.  Where can I get a job in Manila?  Also, is there a chance for me to work abroad?  Please advise me.

Ms. Hopeful

 

Yes, there are jobs for high school graduates.  There are jobs as sales workers (in department stores), service crew (in food outlets), manufacturing (as in assembly lines in plants/factories as operators and production workers, etc.) that do not require a college degree.  You, however, may be subject to periods of unemployment such as working only for 5 months at a time, after which, you will have to look for a job elsewhere and work again for another 5 months, and so on.  If you are employed by an agency that supplies manpower to different companies, they will be the ones to deploy you where you can work.

If you work in Manila, your entire wage will most likely go for your transportation, room and food.  It may not even be enough.  You may not be able to study at night and work at the same time.  I suggest that you re-think about coming to Manila to work here.

It would be better for you to find a job in a city nearest your hometown or province.  I suggest that you go to the city hall nearest to your town and look for PESO (Public Employment Service Office) of the Department of Labor and Employment.  The PESO has a list of job openings for various levels: operator (for high school graduates and undergraduates); technician (with two years of additional training beyond high school), and professional (for those with college degree).  And these jobs are available in the province or region where you come from.

Since you want to pursue college, take time to find out what course to take.  This course should be related to your interests and aptitudes, and, at the same time, will enable you to acquire skills that are likely to be in demand in the next 3-5-7 years.  While waiting to get a job take time to visit TESDA in your region for vocational-technical courses you can take that will equip you with skills for jobs available here and abroad.  TESDA operates training centers in different regions in the Philippines.

And when you find work, save an amount from your monthly earnings.  Do not spend money on cellphone and texting, on clothes and accessories, etc. Buy only what is necessary.  Don’t forget to tell your parents and siblings about your ambition so that they can cooperate with you, encourage you and pray for you.

I suggest that you invest in a great book that will inspire you to have a vision and motivate you to strive to achieve it.  This book is A Tale of Juliet, written by Jhet Torcelino van Ruyven who rose from poverty (yes, she had been extremely poor) to prosperity and is now happy and successful in her life, career and marriage.

The book is available in newsprint for P295.00 in popular bookstores such as National.  It is a heart-stirring life story of a Filipina who had no college degree but was able to work in the Middle East where she met a good man, a foreigner, who loved her very much and married her.  She and her family now live in North America.  Her strength of vision, her burning desire to achieve and unwavering determination, and the power of prayer, enabled her to take actions that changed the course of her life.  Try to buy her book and then email your reaction to her at jhet@thetaleofjuliet.com

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria