Maxine’s (Maxine®) Rules





This witty take on the axiom, “Hard work never killed anyone,” gave me some food for thought. Not only does it apply for people working for other people but entrepreneurs alike, not to mention anyone working at just about anything.


How do we know when we’ve crossed the line from “working smarter” to “working harder”? The truth is, in the extreme, imbalanced work habits have actually killed people. Does it really need to go that far? Don’t believe me? Take these following stories as cautionary tales*.


*The story of working harder is represented in a tale told to me by a friend whose husband-a masters candidate in business-knew a Wall Street broker who recently keeled over dead at age 27. Apparently, the well known brokerage house (who shall remain nameless) for whom he worked required employees to pull all-nighters 3X-a-week. He had become successful enough in short order to where he had acquired a sweet, Italian sportscar which, in the end,he had a short while to enjoy.


*Another story illustrates an overworked famous furniture company’s head accountant who, back in the 80’s, worked long, pressure-filled hours at their Manhattan corporate office where my husband held a part-time job. One day, her hard work came to an abrupt end when she passed away from a heart attack at said office. While being wheeled out to a waiting ambulance she was heard to say, “No job is worth this!”


This is not just a problem relevant to those in the employ of others where it may be a little harder to draw the line as to how much of your own time and health you are willing to sacrifice without fear of retribution (firing).  


These days, with many pursuing the dream of entrepreneurship, working for yourself can put you at risk for a lot of the same problems, i.e., stress, overwhelm, ill-health, and more that apply to those working for somebody else.


In other words, leading  an imbalanced work-life when taken to an extreme can put your very life in peril.


How do you recognize when you’ve crossed that line–or are veering close to its (sometimes) deadly edge–and what can you do about it?


I asked some of my esteemed, online entrepreneur friends how they get things done without making themselves sick and here is what they had to say.


1)  Heidi Thompson from her post “Are Your Working Smart or Just Working Hard @ says:

Plan your day…

“Every weekend I put my batching sessions into Google Calendar along with other specific things I want to get done during the next week. Making an appointment with yourself makes it much more likely that you will actually do the task and Google Calendar reminds me which is very helpful for staying focused.”

2) From Liz Lockard


“I’m a fan of not doing everything. It all comes down to measurement. Track everything & then figure out what works. Do more of that and forget the rest!”


3) From Anne Samoilov

“I step up to this line often – I want to give and give and give…often at my own expense. What I generally try to do is focus on what’s working for sure – what I know for sure works – and that I love doing… when I’m doing those things…. overwhelm doesn’t come near me.

 Like for launching – I often spend most of my time thinking mostly about the content and communication that will go out during the launch – that’s my only non-overwhelming work… it feels creative and it usually has a bigger impact than all the other launch bits… “

And, finally from Catherine Just


“Wait! There’s a way to work smarter not harder??? *faints.


I kid I kid. I’m still working on this. For me it’s about finding a GREAT complimentary team to delegate to – who takes ownership of the work they do so I feel totally supported and not alone in an uphill climb.”

(Sounds like Miss Catherine has a little bit of the comedian in her as well.)


The point is…when work becomes no longer fun-or downright not funny, as in the first two cautionary tales of overwork taken to excess, it’s time to re-evaluate.


There is so much pressure in the workplace to perform. In the case of the unfortunate employees working in the corporate world, it sounds like it was a “lump it or leave it” mentality. And, when the money is good, one can justify putting in the time. Unfortunately, some of us never make it to retirement to see the benefits of all that hard work.


Yet, as entrepreneurs, we place loads of pressure on ourselves–all by ourselves. As entrepreneurs, part of the perks of working for ourselves is to be able to say “No” to what we don’t like to do, delegate the things we don’t enjoy, or that cause us overwhelm to someone who is better suited for the task. It’s a big reason why we enjoy self-employment.


A lot of us entrepreneurs are still learning how to balance this self-employment thing we’ve got going on. And, it  can often be really frustrating–not to mention overwhelming.

So, to summarize:


*Make appointments with yourself to take care of tasks (and to take care of you, i.e., exercise, eating well, breathing…)


*Figure out what works and do more of that.


*Focus on creativity. Determine where your best gifts lie and do those. Delegate the rest.

{There really are people out there who love doing the things you hate–and visa versa.

Find those people and you’ll have the perfect work balance and everyone will be happy!}


So, who makes the rules? As entrepreneurs, we do.

And, remember Maxine’s #1 Rule… to laugh! It’s one of the best stress-reliever/overwhelm busters out there. I think Maxine would agree–well, maybe.

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