These days it is more difficult than ever before to stop working. Nearly all of us are carrying around miniature computers that allow us to receive calls, check emails, and access our company’s website 24-7. While we love our blackberries, iPhones, and androids for how much easier they make things, we also curse them for being such unforgiving masters of our work life.
This age of constant communication is a boon for business but can be a major source of stress for employees. Americans have never been great at taking all of our vacation days, but at this point more and more people aren’t even allowing themselves a vacation at all. The pressure to perform, especially when so many have been laid off, drives us to push too hard.
There are lots of people talking about this already, often on a macro scale. What do we do when we find that our lives have grown too busy; too complex? Simplify, simplify, simplify — right? But easier said than done.
The important thing to understand about this “go go go” lifestyle and work ethic is that it has immediate, short-term effects on the quality of our output on top of the long-term, “stressed-out” feeling we get from being our own slave drivers.
In short: there is as much a need for us to simplify in our day-to-day schedule as in our lives in general. Cluttering each day with so many little time-sinks is the stress-inducing equivalent of having too many possessions. The stress that they create just isn’t worth it, and more importantly they make us worse at paying attention to the stuff that really matters.
Change does not have to be a radical, life-altering sacrifice. It can begin as a simple effort, each day, to take some time to yourself to make sure that you’re not running yourself ragged. Sometimes one of the most productive things you can do is choose to be truly unproductive for a short while so that you can come back to your work refreshed and ready to start again.
What works for you may be completely different from what works for other people, but the basic idea of taking a break every now and again — a real break — is solid across the board. Do some experimentation to find how you decompress most effectively. And, to get the ball rolling, here are a few suggestions.