Time away from work is both noble and necessary
The day I found myself on vacation twittering that I was at the Guggenheim Museum listening to Baroque-styled Christmas carols, was a real eye opener for me.
There I was on day 10 of a four week sabbatical tethered to my iPhone like a baby to its mother’s milk. It seemed, for a moment at least, that I was more interested in broadcasting and having my friends live vicariously through my status updates than experiencing the moments in the moment. But by day”””s end, that Guggenheim tweet became my last, I decided there and then to cease the constant twittering, get unglued from face-book and close my laptop and iPhone so that I could really enjoy my vacation.
For any workaholic that”’s as difficult as a gay man becoming the Pope.
But don”t you dare snicker, aren’t you just like me? You check your phones constantly so you”’"re never out of the loop. You look at the white spaces on your calendars and they’"ve been inked in for months. You"’re always plugged in. Work is a major priority. Hobbies are viewed either as ridiculous or self-indulgent, maybe they are even non existent. And your to do list buries you like sand. Any wonder then it"’s so hard to de-stress.
"I knew someday you would have to stop the grind," remarked a colleague, Nneka Luke, " but you had to come to that realisation yourself."
Nneka was responding a comment I made that the best part of my vacation was the realisation of how much I enjoyed spending time with my husband and that we didn”t do it often enough because of conflicting schedules. In 2010 I vowed to change and listed the ways how: telecommute more, spend less time on the road, stop working on weekends, take more frequent vacations.
For sure I wish I was one of the lucky few, like designer Stefan Sagmeister who I read about just 2 weeks ago. Sagmesiter closes his New York City-based design studio every seven years for an entire year to get his creative juices flowing. His goal is to take five years off of his retirement and intersperse them throughout his working years (isn’t that an idea we should all embrace) He"”s already taken two such sabbaticals, and he uses the "experiments" he conducts during them to inform what he produces during working years.
There is much to learn from this because while a 12 month sabbatical may not always be practical for many of us, the point is our best creative work is done in times of rest untethered from the entrapments of rushing working, working, rushing. The time has come to stop romanticising that it"s super cool to be busy. All the time.
Time alone. A moment or two. Home early. A walk with the dogs. 8 hours sleep. A work -less weekend. Gifts to myself. Time spent with loved ones. All of which I’"ve finally realised are noble as they are necessary.