During a recent family birthday party, my
brother-in-law's aunt, an empty nester who travels extensively for
work, mentioned that she makes plans for her down time. When I say
"plans for her down time," I don't mean weekend getaways or family
occasions, per se; she actually has to reserve her own
hang-out-in-pajamas, not-doing-squat moments. Possessing a true
type A personality, Auntie schedules her time away from day-to-day
(frequently spilling into evening-to-evening) job demands, booking
appointments with herself to do absolutely nothing, or at least as
little as possible.
Now that's a lady who needs to heed the call of Labor Day. If I
were staging a workaholics intervention, I'd hide Auntie's work
cell phone, laptop and watch, replacing the potentially treacherous
devices with herbal tea and a spa certificate.
Auntie's situation is pretty much par for the course for many of
us. In a digital era that requires constant access, it can be tough
for us to give ourselves permission to relax. Some people even feel
guilty for not working on their days off.
A mentor once told me, "Go find your life -- the one outside the
office. I don't care if it's volunteer work, cooking classes or
hiking trips. Just have something that's purely for you, away from
work." He was right. Every time I go off on some random adventure,
big or small, I always return with a pearl of an idea or an insight
to a business dilemma that requires little more than down time and
breathing room to be born. The revelation makes perfect sense: One
can't think outside the box if one never leaves it.
This Labor Day, be a lazy loaf. Free your mind to wander, roam
and play without guilt or explanation. I'll be at a barbecue with
Auntie, serving up her work phone as the main course.