Monday, September 22, 2008

I’ve Got to Learn to Slow Down

I’m a work-a-holic, and that just ain’t good.

I just started a new contract, and already I’m repeating some of my past behaviours. I’m in before everyone else, often I skip lunches and other breaks, and I’m more than occasionally the last one out of the office.

Being a work-a-holic benefits the companies I work for in the short-term, but everyone loses in the long-term. I get burned out quicker, which means I don’t do as good a job as I’d normally do.

Funny thing, most people assume us work-a-holics do so much extra work because we love what we do, we want to kiss up to the boss, or for any of a slew of self-centered, ego-building reasons.

The reason I work so hard is plain and simple guilt. I feel guilty leaving work early, even if I got in early. I feel dishonest if I don’t put in a standard business day’s worth of work – even though I see most around me coming in early, and leaving early. I feel guilty if I say “no” to that extra project, lunch meeting or other work-related thing, which cuts into my own personal time.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love what I do – I’m very passionate my work and doing what I can to better myself, and the profession as a whole.

But I know I need to take more “me” time. I need to learn to say “no” or to delegate to a subordinate or junior more often. I need to look around, and although it may be wrong to “cheat the system” by coming in early and then leaving early, everyone else does it, and that’s how they survive.

Most people these days take extra long breaks, ensure they get their lunch breaks – and if they don’t they take off early or come in late the following day.

I know I’m entitled to these too – just I feel guilty doing it.


I honestly don’t know – and being a senior member of the team, rarely if ever will anyone question my hours spent on a project or dedication to the project if I don’t make meetings set during lunch. Come to think of it, no one has ever asked me to justify my time spent on anything. So long as the work gets done and the client is happy, nothing bad ever happens – to those that take their “me” time or those like me that don’t.

Though in many ways I’ve dug myself a bit of a hole. Once you do something, even if it was just a temporary thing, people come to expect that’s how it will be forever and ever. So, by always being available, no matter what time it is, regardless of whether I’ve had time for lunch, breaks, or even just a quick jog to the washroom – it is now expected of me to always be there.

Change is a hard thing to accept – and those who have worked with me will have to accept some subtle changes over the coming months. I’m getting too old to always be there, and I’ve long since past the political need to always be there.

I’m not some kid fresh out of college, with little to none in the experience department. And I don’t need to kiss anyone’s butt to get to where I want to go. Actually, I’ve found that kissing anyone’s butt never accomplishes anything – but don’t tell those kissing my ass.

Time for a break.

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