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When your outside activity affects your job

Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m a huge sports fan. I mean a total nut. I live in a part of the country where all the sports teams are really good. So there’s always a great game on. However, it’s starting to impact my work. I stay up late to watch games, and I have to be at work at 7 a.m. I’ve tried recording them to watch later, but it’s not the same. Especially since I like to listen to sports radio the next day to hear the commentators’ thoughts. I recently got put on performance review and I know it’s because of this – but I can’t stop. What should I do? – Adam

J.T.: Lots of people are sports nuts, but that’s not a reason to let it cost you your job. Consider the consequences: How will you explain getting fired to future employers? I would consider looking for a job that doesn’t start so early. If you find a job that starts later, you could get a better night’s sleep. Better still, find an evening-shift job and record the sports events and watch them when you get home. That way, you can sleep in and still get up and listen to sports radio!

DALE: Let’s hope that works. Here’s another strategy to try: Minimize a destructive habit by substituting it with a positive one. You probably know someone who’s done something like a friend of mine, who helped himself stop drinking with a commitment to cycling. In your case, I wonder if you couldn’t try to get some of the energy of sports into your work. I’ve studied bosses who are masters of turning work into a game by finding new ways to keep score. You might be able to turn your work into a contest and use your fandom energy to become a star performer.


Dear J.T. & Dale: I drink a lot of water at work to stay hydrated. I’m training to run my first marathon, and I do my runs in the morning before work, so I find I’m thirsty all day. I use a water bottle to cut down on waste. However, the water bubbler is on a different floor in my building. So, I have to walk to it many times throughout the day. Recently, in a team meeting my desk mate made a comment about my frequent trips to the bubbler and that he’s shocked I can still get my work done. People laughed, everyone except my boss. Thoughts? – Manu

J.T.: I’d start by investing in some gallon jugs. Bring a few to work, fill them up and keep them at your desk. This should dramatically reduce the trips.

DALE: That might be a bit over-the-top. But along those lines, simply having a pair of water bottles would cut the trips in half. Perhaps that would be sufficient.

J.T.: I’d also let the team know you are in training and focused on hydration. Lastly, I’d go to your boss and let him or her know you are mindful of your time and aren’t abusing it. Your boss will appreciate you addressing the concern proactively.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

When your outside activity starts affecting your job