I just came from lunch with a client who I worked with last year to help her break her pattern of workaholism. A diligent, conscientious, talented executive, she regularly put in 12-14 hour days, did email every night and throughout the weekend. It was so hard for her to turn work off—she felt a sense of responsibility, did not want to let anyone down, and was driven by the relief of getting something more done.
Her to-do list was never-ending, and when given a choice between checking off a few more to-dos versus taking an evening off to go to a movie, the thing that always seemed to offer the greatest promise of reduced stress was getting a little more work done. Her boss hired me to work with her because she was a top talent who was burning out.
For many people, breaking away from the gravitational pull of work is extremely difficult. In fact, it’s counterintuitive. You’d think that if you are feeling less than effective during your workday you should try fixing things on the job first. Learn to delegate. Break large projects into manageable steps. Keep a better to-do list. Once you get on top of your workload, then you’ll take a weekend off. Avoid taking work home at night. Really relax with a friend.
But the truth is, if you are feeling overworked, exhausted and depleted, the FIRST step is to let go at work and take care of yourself. Though it may feel like breaking AWAY from the office could be deadly to your career, embracing and fortifying your work/life balance, even with something as simple and straightforward as catching up on your sleep, is actually one of the most effective ways to improve your productivity on the job.
Mastering your work/life balance is not just a nice idea—-it’s necessary. The more limited our time off, the more important it is that we spend it in a way that is rewarding, refreshing and energizing. It gives us the energy, creativity, perspective and wherewithal to solve any of your time management challenges on the job. Creating a vibrant personal life is one of the best investments you can make in your work!
So, here we are, with the 4th of July long weekend ahead of us. How are YOU going to spend it to ensure you recharge? I teach my clients something I call the P.E.P. formula—a framework for planning your time off in a way that efficiently fuels your energy. Fit in a mixture —it’s the combination that creates the effect of rejuvenation.
P = Physical Health
Sleep, any form of exercise, eating well, getting to the doctor, a massage—they all provide the well of energy from which you draw strength for everything else you need to do.
E = Escapes
Golfing, gardening, dancing, playing a musical instrument—any activity that instantly transports you to a place of pure joy—are tremendously efficient energizers.
P = People
Spending time with friends and family who give you energy, make you feel good about yourself, and ground you gives you confidence confront challenging situations throughout the week.