A friend reminded me recently that doing my best does not mean working myself to the point of a breakdown. And I thought I had been doing quite well with this whole work-life balance thing! Oh well. Sometimes we are good at kidding ourselves.
Last week I made myself very ill. It started with a cold. I went to work. I spread my germs around. Then I went to Sydney for a conference. My daughter said to me “Mummy I don’t want you to go to Australia, you don’t have to work when you are sick”. I said I do, and her response “but not always Mummy”. I could put this conversation down to childhood innocence and idealism. But she was right.
This is what success looks like – or is it self-harm?
So off I went to Australia. I drugged myself up on cold and flu medication, topped myself up with Nurofen, and lived on caffeine. By the time I got home at 3 am on Saturday morning, I had made myself very, very ill.
As I crawled into bed my husband said I was freezing and dragged me into his arms to warm me up. Having been woken at 3 am in the morning – to a freezing cold wife crawling into bed – a rather loving and concerned reaction I must say. He exclaimed again in the morning, how I was absolutely freezing when I climbed into bed. How? Well, I’d come back from Australia, wearing lighter clothing from the warmer climate, got home at midnight, crawled into a mini-van for the two-hour trip home, and never added more layers of clothing. I was feeling hot, I couldn’t tell how sick I actually was.
When the girls tried to jump into bed with me at 8.30am, I couldn’t open my eyes. They gave me a kiss on the head and left me be. So much for being home in time for Saturday morning soccer. The entire day passed in a blur. I think I was unconscious most of the day.
Its now Monday and I can finally sit up in bed, and do a bit of writing.
I’ve already checked in with work, cleared my emails, set up a few people on jobs, and scheduled meetings for later in the week. A “successful” and “committed” Manager?
The 40 hour work week (and beyond)
I have been following a Twitter conversation about the 40 hour week, and how conceptually stupid our current culture of overwork is. Whilst this is a great conversation to have – complaining about it on Twitter is not going to change the culture. Neither is effectively shutting down anybody who supports the 40-hour week by accusing them of being argumentative whilst defending the “conversation”.
What is going to change this culture?
Me. And You. And other leaders. Not going to work sick. Not teaching our staff that this is what success looks like.
By not teaching our aspiring young women that to have a career and children means sacrificing yourself.
I am a role model. To my staff. To my daughters. And this week I have failed them, and myself.
I’ve spread my germs at work. I now have two staff with my bugs. One is at home, one is pushing through at work to meet deadlines…
This year I have been trying to concentrate on my work life balance (although it appears old habits are hard to kill sometimes). What has worked?
- Concentrating on my energy levels.
- I’ve committed to exercising three times per week (I have discovered yoga and I love it!).
- I make sure I attend the children’s school and sports activities.
- Reading books, to “unplug” from work.
- I have established a bedtime routine to help me sleep better.
- Taking time off work in school holidays.
- Taking vitamins and minimising alcohol.
- Getting a hobby outside of work (this blog :)).
- Practising minimalism.
- A new one I’m going to add now – use sick leave when I need to.