There is a great article in the NY Times this week about “Busyness”. The Busy Trap examines the idea that we have forgotten how to relax here in America. That being busy gives you bragging rights. I experience this often. As a busy person I actually MAKE time to “do nothing”. Sometimes it is “structured nothing” – like meditation. Other times it is laying on the patio with a pile of catalogs that seem to never stop coming no matter what I do.
I think it’s really very important to set boundaries for yourself in our connected world. A couple of times a year I take a Social Media Vacation. When I’m working on projects that cover multiple time zones I really try and figure out when I have to be “live” to folks in the UK or folks in Asia….without this boundary I would be working 24 hours and not sleeping. At times I would actually realize that my “evening” was really from 2 – 6 when I was working with Germany AND Hong Kong.
I recently had a conversation with a man I know about his new role as President of a division. He was commenting on how a few of the team members he inherited had asked him what his philosophy was on “live work balance”. He found this entertaining and telling. His answer was – “you’re all grown ups. if you think you need to be at your kid’s baseball game at 3pm then you go. how could i possibly deny you that when you were out to dinner with clients 3 nights this week or working on the presentation for Monday morning on your Sunday afternoon.” He said they looked at him in shock. I have to admit this is someone close to 60 and I was super impressed with his modern approach. It is that kind of approach that the workplace needs these days…at least the kind of workplaces my peers and I are a part of…
It’s a bit archaic to have the boundaries set by an HR person or even by the time zones that were set long long ago. It is up to you to make your own time valuable and meaningful. And that includes sleeping.