I went kayaking with my mom the other day. It had been raining the past few days and we were finally able to get on the water.
The lake felt like heaven! We were so happy just to spend time paddling along, enjoying each other’s company and the beautiful day.
It was amazing to just shut it all down for a while and drift.
We’re always told to take a break – rest, have down-time, reduce stress. And sometimes we can feel nagged to death by the well-meaning “experts” who harp on self-care.
They’re not wrong, though. We do need to take a break. But it’s getting harder and harder to do it.
In recent years we’ve been overwhelmed by technology – we’re always connected and accessible. But these days of remote work add an additional layer of accessibility.
We no longer have commute time. However hectic the commute, it did provide critical transition time from home to work and back again.
And our homes are no longer temporary work spaces.
More than ever, there is no clear delineation between work and home. There is no simple “off switch”.
Not only can we bring our phone to the dinner table but it’s easy to walk over to the computer to send that quick email or hop on a Zoom call. We can always work just a little more.
And it’s great that our dogs and kids are welcome in the background of our meetings these days—but that doesn’t give us a clear line between work and home.
What does this mean? It’s harder than ever to turn it all off.
Some people are better than others at compartmentalization—leaving work at work. But when the cues are gone (leaving the office or stepping through your own front door) the compartments turn into one big junk drawer.
I have three ways to manage this balance.
First, I have a morning routine that gives me that quiet time to reflect and ease into my day. (I follow Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – it has been a huge influence on my life!)
Next, I make sure to leave the house at least once every day. Just a change of scenery, however brief. For some folks, getting out every day isn’t difficult. But I can just keep working until suddenly it’s time for bed. So for me, getting out can simply mean making a quick trip to the grocery store.
Finally, I try to spend time outside. This can be a tough one, full of those “shoulds”: I should do laundry, I should work on the presentation, I should balance my checkbook. So I schedule in my outside time just like a meeting.
My mom and I had planned our outing to the lake a week earlier. If we didn’t nail down that date, it would have come and gone with a bunch of regrets on both our parts.
As the new week begins, I feel refreshed because I did take that break. I have my morning routine firmly in place, and I’m almost out of lettuce.