We say we need to work hard, work smart, do more with less, and burn the midnight oil. It is physically and mentally not feasible to keep doing it over and over without some type of break. Remember when the idea was for all the new technology—such as mobile devices and the Internet—to make our jobs easier and allow us to spend more time with friends and family? It turns out that the new technology adds to our ability to constantly connect with work. Besides the fact that cell phones have somehow created a new breed of louder talkers in airports, it has also allowed work to creep into our personal lives and blur the line between personal and professional time.
We all want to do well, possibly advance, and get confirmation from our boss that we are doing well. Some people like to send emails with a late night timestamp to create the question, “What were you doing working at midnight?” However, burning the midnight oil will cause burn out.
Our jobs are important. So are family and friends. Don’t forget that. We all deserve a break from work. In the short term, do something for yourself, like walking away from the desk. Grab lunch, clear your head, and get a little breather. In the long term, take the vacation you have earned and enjoy it without checking in to the office. You should spend time with your friends and family to unwind. When I talk about unwinding,
I mean turning off all connections to the office. Believe it or not, the business will run without you. Although there is no such thing as eight to five anymore, you have to recharge. It is good for you and it is good for the business. If you have established the right relationship with your boss and set the right expectations for your team, you might even gain more respect as your team shows off what you have taught them.
You don’t want to say later in life, “I wish I didn’t miss that event with my kids.” I feel like I did early in my career. I have gone back and thought about the things I missed. I have had difficulty trying to remember why I wasn’t there. Was it a “critical” meeting? Most times, I can’t remember. When I do the opposite and remember the kid’s events I have attended, I can’t remember what I missed at work. It tells you something. The business will run without me, whether I truly believe it or not. In fact, if I do my job well, it should run smoothly without me. I have built up enough trust in the people doing the job in my absence. I will cover for them when they are out, and we both get the ability to recharge our batteries.
For those people who think they are the only ones who can do their job, most times they are wrong. Hoarding responsibility only creates stress for those depending on you and creates stress for you as the sole owner. When you leave for what you may call a vacation, it probably isn’t as relaxing as you want it to be. If you leave the impression that you not being in the office will leave huge holes if you can’t be contacted, you are creating a potentially harmful dependency. Creating this type of dependency is not good for anyone. You have to make a concerted effort to create independence for your sanity.
Give in to the fact that you work hard (and smart), and you will take the time to enjoy it. None of your family and friends needs to watch you continuously on your cell phone while you should be with them, and you are most likely not engaged in whatever is happening anyway. The point of time away from work is to enjoy yourself, the people around you, and to relax—you deserve it.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby