Ask many people how they are these days and the common refrain is, “Flat out” or, “Frantic”, or some other synonym for very busy. The increasing busyness and pace of work has seen a burgeoning in apps such as Headspace and Calm, all designed to bring mindfulness and relaxation to our fingertips, even in two-minute chicken nugget sized bites.
Many of the leaders we work with feel if they can get through this week, or this month, or this change, then they can have some respite. Yet all too often some new urgency emerges to hoover up the future space they thought they could use to recharge.
So what is the answer? Boundaries and discipline. If work is not going to get any less busy then you have to create a sense of when enough is enough. Consider your life as a house with guests, either by design or necessity – family, friends, hobbies and work. They each take up space and some guests are more giving and aware than others – sensing when you need space and when to go. But all too often we let work be the least socially aware of our house guests – letting it take more space at the expense of our other guests – family, friends, hobbies. And why wouldn’t it when over the years we have never resisted it taking up more space? In the absence of boundaries, work will insidiously take over until the space you have left is the size of your coffin.
Discipline is required so that when you are not at work, you are not at work. Don’t be dragged back into email morass after you have finished for the day, or in the weekends, or when you are on holiday. We look back in history and think of how many kids were robbed of their mums and dads but technology is making virtual orphans of many of our children. Parents, who when not at work, spend more time on their phones or tablets than they do with their kids. Get home, put your phone in a draw. Buy a cheap second phone and give the number to your friends and family only. The business of life is life.