Hold the Mayo — Part One

Captain’s Log…

Captain’s Log…


Hey, fellow overachieving workaholics: as if we needed further proof that we are not only socially dysfunctional but oddities of medical science as well, no less an authority than the prestigious Mayo Clinic now has stuff on their site about work-life balance. There’s a lot of helpful information there, but since I’m a busy guy, I like to blow past the nuances of detailed information, and get to the list of easily digestible stuff to which I can give minimal thought. That is, after all, why I read USA Today. Anyway, work-life balance suggestion number one is “keep a log.” The idea is to record every single thing you do for a week, and then go back and see what is ultimately unproductive or emotionally unsatisfying and jettison it. Man, if I’d done that in college I would have had a lot less girlfriends. But now, for the life of me I can’t figure out what to get rid of. See if you can help. Here’s a typical block of time on a weekday:

5:59 am.- Wake up precisely one minute before alarm goes off. Wait for it to beep, then see how fast you can switch it off. (Got it down to less than a second this morning. My mastery of inanimate objects is nearly complete.)
6:01 am – Brush teeth, read the Journal, phone east coast clients, fax east coast clients, e-mail east coast clients, commence online trading, commence online poker, commence online catalogue purchases, interact briefly with wife.
6:02 am – Leave bed.
6:03 am – Breakfast. Today I think I actually grabbed the toast BEFORE it popped out of the toaster.
6:04 am – Begin morning commute.
7:00 am – Finish listening to Books-On-Tape version of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
7:01 am – Call Stephen Covey, ask him how the seven habits are working out for him.
7:02 am – Try not to take Stephen Covey’s response personally.
8:00 am – Finish commute. Arrive back at home. Explain to my wife (again!) how observing the ritual of a morning commute even though I work out of the house keeps me on the cutting edge competitively.
8:05 am – See the kids off to school.
8:06 am – Am told the kids left for school an hour ago. Wife is upset. I tell her at least I remembered their names. She tells me knowing their last name does not count.

I have read this over dozens of times, and if there’s anything in it that is not completely vital to my success, I wish someone would tell me. I don’t know what the big shots at the high-and-mighty Mayo Clinic were thinking. (Probably, “hey, let’s screw with Tom Stern!”) Just the same, I’ll keep taking their suggestions and see how it goes. Keep watching this space.


  1. The Mayo Clinic is a world-renowned medical authority. I can tell you first-hand that they do not appreciate prank calls about what you want on your sandwich.
  2. Keeping a log of your activities is a time-consuming pain. Make one of your kids do it.
  3. Do not piss off Stephen Covey. He will leave a boatload of angry messages on your voicemail.

Tom Stern is the founder of Stern Executive Search and the creator of CEO Dad, the syndicated comic strip about executive dysfuntion.