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A 28 HOUR DAY?

Listening to a Client this morning who recounted how she checks her mail every night before she goes to sleep, I was struck yet again by how we have extended our working days.

Whilst the advent of the iphone, BlackBerry, Twitter and Facebook means we can always stay in touch, most of us know on some level that this intrudes on family time, which is acknowledged as not being optimal. But what about down-time ? When do you switch off ?

I know I often have moments of clarity when I’m in the shower, and a fellow coach pointed out to me that this may be because (apart from when we’re sleeping) it’s the only time that we’re truly ‘off call’. Even in the bath or on the loo, you can choose to have your little lifeline to the world with you. Living in South-Africa, a country notorious for it’s citizens not complying with the law, we send text messages and check our e-mail in traffic – and believe that we’re being productive by doing so.

I’d like to challenge this notion. Just because we can be contactable 24/7, doesn’t mean we should be. The Client this morning, a successful entrepreneur, is faced with the prospect of a divorce. Whilst she has attained enormous financial success, the meaning she has attributed to being available for work means that she is never truly present with her family. She is with them in body, but certainly not in soul.

So where does this drive to ‘be on top of things’ come from. For some, it stems from a frame that downtime is not as important as productive time. That being productive is all that counts. The obvious question is how much more productive would you be if you could give yourself permission to really enjoy your downtime. To switch off your phone and your laptop during non-working hours. How often have you delayed doing an activity for yourself, say like going to gym, or calling a friend to say hi – because you have to finish a work-related activity ?

Work-related activities fill the available time, so if you stretch that time, you’ll simply work harder.  And working harder today means feeling a bit drained tomorrow, and exhausted by the end of the week. And possibly feeling resentful thereof. Maybe it’s time we work smarter – not by implementing new systems or time-management techniques, but by elevating downtime to be as important as work. After all, if you are not looking after yourself and resting – how on earth are going to be able to give of yourself to work or anyone else ?

People who have my mobile number generally use it to get hold of me for work. People who have my landline number are people that love me, and who want to connect. I challenge you to switch off your mobile phone at night, and use the time instead to connect with those whom you love. Including yourself. And watch how much more productive you become as you refresh your energy levels and start living your life, not just doing your work.

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Comments

  1. I love your writing Janine. So wise, and you’re so right.

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