Your Career and You: "Take Some ‘You’ Time"


var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”); document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));
I had coffee this morning with a friend whose project management abilities scare me. She’s so focused and organized that I often come away from our meetings feeling like a clueless beginner.

She recently made some adjustments in her work arrangements and is now operating out of her home office two-to-three days a week.

When we talked about her plans several months ago, everything looked great. She would go in to the “real” office a couple of days a week to collaborate with her teammates and participate in scheduled meetings, but the bulk of her time would be spent working from home. Minimal commute; maximum productivity.

But…

Something has happened since those blissful “planning for the future” days, and she’s feeling overwhelmed. Not by the work per se; by the fact that her workdays…and the days she scheduled for personal activities… are blurring together with no downtime anywhere.

If it’s not “work-work,” it’s “household-related-work.” One piling on top of the other, day after endless day.

Now I’m probably not the best person to be weighing in on matters like this…I was online at least four hours a day while I was on vacation recently, checking email, updating my Facebook status, tweeting about God knows what, and writing a blog post (which prompted a comment from a former student/current friend).

But I felt like I needed to at least offer an alternative for her since it looked like she was in the fast lane heading for a meltdown. Nothing mind-boggling; just simple “been there, done that” reality.

“You need some ‘me time,'” said the wise counsel. “Take a day and go ‘play.’ Do fun things. Walk in the sunshine (if we ever have any), eat ice cream, and relax.”

“Congratulations, Kirk,” you mutter. “That’s a no-brainer for most of us, but it’s not going to work for your friend. She’s not wired that way.”

“Probably so,” I respond as I savor my tiramisu from Mike’s Pastry in Boston’s North End. “But it had to be said. She’s so focused on her work and her home projects that she’s losing her enthusiasm for both.”

I realized a long time ago that, as important as my work is and as much as I absolutely love what I do for a living, I have to take some “me” time to clear my head and reenergize.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a walk in the park. Other times it’s extended vacations during which the most strenuous thing I do is choose which pastry I want with my morning cappuccino.

But it’s “me” time. And, when I return from whatever I have chosen as the remedy for impending burnout, I am recharged and eager to get back into action.

In my days as a public relations professional, my clients or employers benefited from the change; today, as a public relations professor, it’s my students at Curry College or Regis College.

To counter the unsaid but implied “It’s not that simple for those of us who are either unemployed or under-employed,” I respond thusly (love that word!): “Yes it is. In fact, it’s even more important that you do this. If you don’t, you’ll burn out even more quickly and lose the will to forge ahead with your job search.”

This sage advice is from one who once spent two years unemployed, living on paltry savings when the benefits ran out. Unemployment is no laughing matter, and it’s with you 24/7.

You can’t leave it on your desk back in the office…there is no office.

So you have to learn how to kick back and enjoy the moment…or the day. Trust me. You’ll feel a heck of a lot better afterwards, and you’ll dive back into whatever challenge you’re facing with renewed energy and determination.

“If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.” – Herodotus, “Histories,” bk. II, ch. 173

(Note: My friend emailed me later in the day. After we parted company, she went home, slipped into some comfortable clothes, and spent the day wandering blissfully around town window-shopping. The upbeat tone of her note said it all…she took some badly-needed “me time.”)

Advertisements

About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 10 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Curry College, job hunting, job search, Regis College. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Your Career and You: "Take Some ‘You’ Time"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm retired now so it's a non-issue for me, but I have a good friend who has been unemployed since the major company for which she worked was shut down. She spends considerable time as a pro bono manager for a job readiness program (honing skills, networking, helping others); has a part-time non-professional job for benefits; and spends the remainder job-hunting, interviewing, blogging, etc. Smartly, she also has a friend with whom she walks every morning; and meets weekly with friends for drinks and conversation, along with periodic lunches. That kind of "me" time is critical to maintaining a healthy life balance, much like vacations are critical during working years. She is stressed, no question; who wouldn't be? But think how far worse it would be if she was solely focused on the job hunt with no 'distractions'. She's a finalist for a good job right now, so a kind thought for her success is truly appreciated!

  2. Thanks! Your friend absolutely validates what I suggested to my friend and in my post. My fingers are crossed in hopes of her succeeding in her job search. Please update us!

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is amazing to me that I am listening to an NPR program discussing Cognitive Awareness, meditation and neuroscience (http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/healthy-minds/) while I multi-task and read my emails to include "APRofessor's Thoughts". Having been raised by members of "The greatest generation" (accomplishment oriented) and years of being a single mom who had no choice but to do-it-all, I have experienced GREAT personal burnout during my multi-decade life, all self-induced as I never learned to Let Go, Relax and Breathe. I am fortunate to have a love of cycling, hiking in a nearby state park and my newest love: kayaking. It is difficult to have an overly-busy brain when your body is utilizing its blood supply for muscles engaged in hill climbing, or paddling.In my current "job"/profession, I am fulfilling my own new-grad dream of being a mentor to younger nurses. My suggestions to those younger nurses who approach me for help reflect exactly what you are saying: find some "ME" time. As members of a compassion-based profession, nurses are often subject to self-induced OVER CARING or the newer term – Compassion Fatigue. Not only are nurses subject to heart and head patient/family/work demands on the job, many nurses find themselves in the role of "family and neighbor or friend medical advisor". These are the people in our lives who trust a nurse for advice for life, health and the-latest-healthcare-worry-on-the-news. It is difficult to find 'down-time' when there is little available time to BE off duty.I guess what I am saying Kirk, is that you are right. The world is busier than ever before and the demands on us are high. FIND TIME to relax, re-fuel, un-wind and give back to yourself what you so freely (and so frequently) give to others. Play peaceful music in the car or better yet, play nothing at all. Put yourself on that To Do List! Give yourself permission to refuel and re-charge so you CAN be there for others. Be strong and set your demands firmly. The world will not end if we lock ourselves in the bathroom for 5 minutes of peace.Thanks Kirk!

  4. Thanks, Cathie. You absolutely have captured the heart of what I was talking about…and have pinpointed a profession whose members would benefit most by remembering there is and has to be room for "me." I'm glad you were able to identify this little "secret" yourself and make good use of it. We need to make sure you're with us for a long, long time! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s