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View Sample Pages : Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 25, 1974

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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - April 25, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa I he Cedar Rapids Gazette: Thurs., April 25, 1974    7    A Re-engineering Your Life To Cut Type A Behavior By Meyer Friedman, M.D. and Ray H. Rosenman, M.D. In this chapter we propose some practical procedures, ways in which you can “reengineer” your daily life. It would be unfair of us to suggest that this re-engineering will be an easy process or a painless one. It must go on for a period of years. You will find that it requires great persistence rather than a dramatic sort of courage; (Fifth in a series) the measures to be adopted frequently run directly counter to impulses that have become natural to you. Tyrannizing habits that have been in command of you for decades will not yield to mere armchair resolutions or a few days of desultory attention. In our experience, the battle of new habits against old may have to continue indefinitely. Hurry Sickness The procedures outlined below have for convenience been framed in terms of those who work in offices. But let us emphasize again that Type A behavior is found among persons of every class and profession. It originates within t h e person himself, not in his Big George! environment, and must be fought on home ground. lf you could free yourself of “hurry sickness,” at least 50 percent or more of your Type A behavior pattern would disappear. As we have repeatedly pointed out in this book, although the Type A person frequently struggles against various challenges presented to him by his milieu, it is his battle against time that we suspect is the chief component sustaining his behavior pattern. The very first step you must take is to revise your usual daily schedule of activities so as to eliminate as many events and activities as possible that do not contribute directly to your socio-economic well-being. Reverse Process Previously, you worked to crowd in events; now you must work to shed events, even if those events are closely linked to your business or profession. For example, let’s presume that you are a dentist and that you previously scheduled yourself to treat a patient every thirty minutes, allowing yourself a five- to ten-minute interval of rest and relaxation every several hours (an interval, incidentally, that few Type A dentists allow). Virgil Partch Under your new anti-Tvpe A program, you Will plan to see and treat a patient every forty-five minutes, even though his therapy will require only twenty-five or thirty minutes. What change will this make in your life? Only this: You might make a little less money and feel strangely relaxed and carefree for part of every hour of your working days for the rest of your professional life. Fewer Visitors Similarly, if you arc a business executive, you will stop cluttering up your appointment schedule so badly that try as you might to "hurry each of your visitors, you invariably fall behind and know that you are keeping your next appointment waiting. One of the surest ways of intensifying the stress of Type A behavior is for you to keep someone else waiting. Allot more time to various events than you believe they will require! What can you lose? Other activities in your life may require revisions if you are to recover from “hurry sickness.” For example, you may be one of those thousands of suburbanites who for years have arisen just in time to dress, eat breakfast, scan the newspaper, reach the station, and board your train. Why not arise fifteen minutes earlier than you usually do? If you wish a second cup of coffee or want to dawdle a bit more lover your newspaper, you will be able to do so. If you wish to take a stroll in your garden, or even talk to a neighbor, you will have time without forever having to consult your watch. Telephone And let us remind you, incidentally, that the more frequently during the day you look at this monster on your left wrist, the more serious your “hurry sickness.” You must also re-engineer your telephone habits if any person can telephone your office or your store and be directly connected with you, regardless of what you may be doing or with whom you may be talking. Unfortunately, most Type A persons instruct their secretaries or subordinates to put anyone through. The only reason why Type A persons allow themselves to be interrupted this way is that they are basically insecure. They always fear that a terribly important client or customer may telephone and become furiously upset were he denied immediate access. If you have this fear, and permit yourself to be interrupted continually, you are aggravating your “hurry sickness.” Unconsciously, you are likely to hasten the pace of your conversation with business associates in anticipation of a summons from the telephone. Lunches If you are a severely afflicted TVpe A, at noon you tend to substitute a restaurant table for your own desk. Indeed, sometimes you scribble numbers on the napkins and the blank spaces of the restaurant’s menu cards, as if they were your own office pads. Only the martini or the beer serve as a signal that a small change in your 'activities has taken place, except that the change is purely geographic. Luncheons, some of our patients have told us, allow “outside” committee meetings, as opposed to the normal “inside” committee meetings conducted during the rest of the day. In re-engineering your life, you should seek to eliminate luncheons at which you continue to talk and think about the same things you do the rest of the day. Obviously, such luncheons cannot be completely eliminated — situations will arise when it will be necessary for you to mix your 'bread with your business. But up to now you have probably regarded your lunch period as an extension of working hours. We have already insisted that if you are a Type A person and are to break loose from your thralldom, you must begin to explore your self and you must allot some time for such contemplation. Your lunch period probably offers you the first true opportunity to consider yourself objectively. Finishing Burst Many Type A persons take considerable pride in the fact that they can almost always finish all their day’s work by 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., an accomplishment that is quite often managed by spurts of pressure and tension begining between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Such spurts themselves may intensify your already severe sense of time urgency. Of course, there are times when it is eminently desirable to finish a piece of work at the end of the day, but far too often Type A persons do it simply because of the pleasure, and a rather inane pride, they find in completing any sort of task. Such pride underlines again the chronic fascination that battles against time hold for Type A persons. We suggest that you no longer go into a dither as the evening hour approaches. No great harm will be done if you leave your office somewhat later than usual. Tomorrow: Harnessing Your Hostility. Copyright 1974 by Meyer Friedman. 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