This is a personal reflection piece that I wrote while on vacation, where my brain compelled me to write this piece whether I posted it publicly or not. It certainly helped me to get this down, and maybe it’ll help other people reflect on their own worklife balance.
Starting a Career is No Excuse
Well, starting a career is an excuse, but shouldn’t be one. Though, I am sadly as guilty of this as anyone.
More than once, I have been in positions of “starting off” a career or job (which was a lot considering the number of contracts I had). More than once, I have overworked myself to the point of getting sick or edging on burning out.
Pitfalls of Overworking
While I know I have never experienced true burn out, a number of people I know have been talking about it and the problems we create when we come even close, not only for ourselves, but also for those close to us and for work.
Overworking means becoming more likely to get sick, having to take time off on short notice, or having to take a leave of absence altogether.
Too often I have worked to the point of getting sick, embarrassingly sometimes while at work or school, and then someone from my family usually has to pick me up.
I’ve always half jokingly called myself a workaholic, but I don’t do it proudly. I know it’s a problem and one that I’ve been trying to work on.
Take a Break
I used to hate having a long lunch break, and I almost never take my 15 minute breaks, but I’ve learned to appreciate them. Thankfully, my schedule is such that normally I can take it when I feel like it’s a good place to stop work for the morning, or when I’m hungry. (Obviously, shift work doesn’t allow flexibility on timing.) I sometimes even take my 15 minute break when I feel the need now.
I honestly used to feel like I didn’t have time, and that I was wasting “precious” work time, but those breaks have made a big difference, especially when I leave the physical work space for a while and just do my own thing.
Different days have different needs, so sometimes instead of a 15 minute break, I’ll take 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there: micro nap, stare out the window, play a quick game of something, take a quick walk or stretch, etc.
Take a Longer Break
I am no stranger to going long stretches without a vacation or time off. Strangely, if anything, I believe I had the longest stretch without a break most recently from November to August (9 months). There were various reasons for that, but I hope never to have to go that long again without some sort of break.
It was probably because of that long stretch that even though I was off for 2 weeks in October, by the time my current vacation was nearing, I really did feel like I needed another break.
If nothing else, the break is allowing my brain to disentangle some of its thoughts, and writing things down (like this blog post) has always been a great way to pull out thoughts on a topic and put them back together elsewhere, so that they’re not keeping me up at night.
Do yourself a favour and take a break if you haven’t done recently. Future you will thank you for it.
Now, I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my vacation.