Go, go, go, go. The frantic pace of our lives has gotten really out of control. We run all day at work, only to get home and have precious few hours to recharge our batteries before starting a new day. Of course, those hours are often broken up by more work in the form of business emails, finishing up presentations, and work on other projects. We've become a culture that celebrates busyness for the sake of busyness, to the detriment of our wellness. The employee who works all day and goes home to work for several more hours is praised as a performer. The employee who works for 8 hours and then goes home and rests is reprimanded and regarded as lazy. We've forgotten that rest isn't a bad thing, and that it actually allows us to move forward.
A few weeks back, I was working on a project for a client. I spent an entire week’s worth of working hours (and beyond) trying to get the first phase over the finish line. Admittedly, I could've slowed my pace and taken a bit more time, but I was determined to finish. I spent every waking moment that I wasn't caring for Benedict working on that project. At the end of the week, I hit my goal, but the rest of my life was in shambles. I hadn't been reading, I hadn't been resting, and I hadn't been praying. I was behind on everything. I resolved to change my schedule and to only work Monday - Friday. The fact is, rest isn't earned, it's a gift. It's a gift for us to be able to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. Downtime isn't a bad thing.
Our connectedness is part of the problem. Work is on your phone and your phone is always on you. Therefore, you think about work when you really shouldn't. It creeps up on you in the evening and it creeps up on you on the weekend. In order to take back our off time, we need to first put in place measures that'll prevent us from working during non-work times. Close out all programs on your computer, turn off work-related phone notifications, and make it really hard to get to your work things without consciously reaching out for them. You also need to give yourself permission to not work. There will always be more work and it'll be waiting for you the moment that you go back to it. There's no rush at night and there's no rush on the weekend.
It's important to note that we're the keepers of our time. If you want to not have your work creep up on you in the evening and if you want your weekends back, you need to get your work done in the time that you've allotted. That means fewer coffee breaks, shorter lunches, and less time surfing. Have a clearly defined to-do list and do only those things. Find ways to be efficient and practice discipline to meet goals ahead of deadlines. If you do all that you need to do in the day, then there's no reason for you to work in the evening.
We implement all of this discipline for two reasons. First, because you need it. You need a break from work in order to be your best when you're at work. You need a break to read, watch a movie, or have a beer on your deck. Second, because your family needs it. Your wife wants to spend time with you in the evening after a day apart and your children want to play with you. Don't miss their lives because you didn't do what you needed to do during the day.
Rest isn't earned, it's a gift. Be diligent in the working hours and at peace in your resting hours.