Work Hard, Play Hard … And Get Some Rest In Between

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off nicely.

I guess I’ve been on “summer” hours lately. At least that’s the way it feels. What used to be a morning ritual of grabbing a cup of coffee and hitting the keyboard has now become rolling back over in bed, begrudgingly getting up at the last minute, then curling up on the sofa until it’s time to go to work. Then I make my coffee. That’s okay, I quit early to make up for it.

With my luck, this is the one day the boss will read my post. And no, that’s not exactly how it works. Last night I worked three hours over to make up for some perceived non-productive time during the day. You know, taking a couple of five-minute breaks, checking the weather, and things like that. I’d say the day worked out in the company’s favor.

That’s the way it is when you work from home. In fact, my employer sent an email a couple of weeks ago to remind us that there’s a time to work and a time to call it a day. And, during the day, we need to get away for 10-15 minutes and take a real break. But why? There’s nobody hanging around the coffee pot, and the snack machine in my house is empty anyway.

To people who have never worked from home, it’s a novel concept. Get out of bed, brush your teeth, straighten your pajamas, and walk across the hall to “the office.” Okay, in my case it’s in the basement, but you get the idea. No dressing up, no commute, and instead of a soda machine I’m six feet from a refrigerator full of beer. What could possibly go wrong?

But the reality is, working from home can lead to burnout even faster than clocking in at the office. The reason is simple. You tend to skip the things that would normally take you away from your desk at work. Even lunch. It’s just as easy to eat at your desk, especially if the dining room table IS your desk. And since you’re there anyway, you might as well be productive.

And then there are days like yesterday when you get on a roll and don’t want to break the momentum. I’m a business analyst, which means I spend half my day in meetings asking dumb questions, and the rest of the day writing the answers and coming up with more dumb questions. And, as any writer knows, when you’re on a roll, you don’t stop for anything.

We spend most of our days so focused on getting the job done that it’s easy to forget when to step away and let life take a turn. And that’s important – every bit as important as making sure we don’t spend too much time in the break room or hanging over a friend’s desk. Run your computer all day without recharging it, and the result is pretty much the same.

It’s all about balance. Work when it’s time to work, then step away. Take a break. Pet the dog. Spend some time with the kids. Take a walk around the block. None of those things takes more than a few minutes, but they’re critical to your physical and mental wellbeing. Just as critical as getting out of bed and doing something productive. Maybe even more.

And if you just have to stay busy, put some of that time to use for yourself. Set a goal. Put a picture of your dream on the refrigerator and spend a little time working on that. Sure, it’s still work. But that’s true of anything that doesn’t involve TV and a recliner. Still, there’s a difference between working for a paycheck and working toward a dream. You should try it.

And when all that work is done, take a breather. In fact, take a few breathers. If the company gives you a paid break, take it. Even if you’re home. And if sitting on the couch during “working” hours makes you feel guilty, take a walk. When lunchtime comes, get away. Even if it means leaving the house completely. Your body needs it, and so does your brain.

It’s been said that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It also makes him a psychotic timebomb that nobody wants to be around. Work when it’s time to work, but know when to call it a day. You’ll be healthier and happier, and so will everyone around you.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let Cabin Fever Get The Best Of You

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

As many of you adjust to staying home all day for the first time in years, I’ve become somewhat of an expert. It wasn’t by choice, but life has a way of throwing a knuckleball when you’re looking for an inside pitch. Regardless, I’ve survived and, equally important, so has my wife. We’re even still talking. To each other. Amazing!

Over the years, I’ve worked a lot of contract positions. That arrangement is both good and bad. The good is that the pay is generally a little higher, and you’re constantly exposed to new technologies and ways of doing things. The bad is that you’re constantly exposed to new ways of doing things – like looking for work. And time off means time without pay. Even holidays.

Another downside of contracting is that, the faster you get the job done, the sooner you’re out of work. That’s just the nature of the beast. Hopefully, if you’ve done your job well, the company will find more work for you – if there’s more work to be done. That isn’t always the case, so sooner or later, you find yourself “on the beach.” It sounds better than “unemployed.”

I’ve discovered that one of the secrets to survival is having something productive to occupy your time. You can only watch so much TV before your brain starts to soften, and right now when most outside activities are limited or shut down entirely, that becomes even more important. Divorce attorneys are already cancelling their summer vacations.

On the other hand, some experts are anticipating a baby boom this December. When I was in the Navy, nobody in the base hospital was allowed to go on leave nine months after a carrier group returned from an extended deployment. We’ll just leave that one right there.

I’ve kept myself busy with different things over the years. Between freelance writing, stand-up comedy, and a side business, I never had to sit around too long. Right now I’m working for a military contractor on the side. If you’ve ever taken the ASVAB (military’s vocational aptitude test) and wondered who wrote all those stupid questions, that would be me (takes a bow).

I’ve also been working on the book I planned to finish in 1998, and six more I started since then. Yes, I’m good at starting projects, but a little weak when it comes to completing them. Right now my business mentors are nodding in agreement. When I focus on something completely, I do it very well. But I’m the guy who once had a full display of half-assembled plastic models.

The point is, find something to do. Anything. It’s good to be productive, but it’s also important to blend in a little recreation. Take a walk. Play a game. Go out for a picnic. Take the kids to the park. The longer you sit inside a closed-up house, the more you ingest every single germ in the place. And some of those germs wear on your patience as much as your physical health.

If you’re working from home, you’ve already got something to take up your time. Now the challenge is to find something to take up everybody else’s time. Because, no matter how much you stress that you’re “at work,” it’s hard for others to overlook the fact that you’re right there in the kitchen next to a refrigerator full of uncooked food. And they’re hungry. Now.

The thing is, kids are no different than the rest of us. Their routine has been interrupted as well. It may be a few weeks before they miss going to school, but boredom doesn’t take nearly that long to find a home. Unless they have something constructive to occupy their time, their brain will soften as well. And they may need your help finding that something to fill their day.

Human beings were designed to produce, and when we’re not producing, we begin to fade. It wears on our sense of dignity and purpose and leaves us feeling inadequate. Recreation can fill that void for a time, but at some point, you need to have that feeling of making a contribution.

So, find something to do with your time. Work from home if you can. Clean up around the house. Make a special meal. Volunteer. Write a book. Check in on an elderly neighbor. Plant some flowers. Call an old friend. Start a business. Read to the kids. Read to yourself. Do some crosswords. There are literally dozens of things you can do besides gazing out the front window.

When you stop using your muscles, they wither away. The same thing happens to your brain. Filling your time isn’t enough – you have to fill it with something worthwhile. Dreams can fill that void as well. Find one that you’ve been putting off and start working toward it. You may have to go back to work before you reach that goal, but think how much closer you’ll be.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved