Stop Working, Take Vacation and Set an Example


When I read this piece on busyness from Meredith Fineman in Harvard Business Review my immediate reaction was guilty as charged. She's describing me and one of my worst faults. I'm always busy, always working, and always telling people about it.While I like to think of myself as self-aware (I know many of my greatest strengths and deepest weaknesses) sometimes you need a wake-up call. That can come in the form of reading, listening, asking ("am I missing something") or the ever-valuable-when-done-right upward feedback.

So where does it come from? Sure, I can harbor much of the blame. So can society, the American business landscape, even #startuplife. Entrepreneurs especially feel the need to be busy all of the time and when things slow, feel a sense of laziness.I won't argue with the value of taking a break. But I will remind you leaders out there: it's also your fault. We're terrible at modeling good behavior, especially when it comes to taking a break. We push for our team to take vacation, but do we check to see who actually does? It's cool for startups to offer unlimited vacation days, but are any actually required? We might not expect our teams to answer emails nights and weekends, but we send them anyway.

I last wrote about the importance of role models in my Forbes piece about women in the workplace where I lamented my personal lack of role models in my own career. Part of the problem for me was the workload, the badge of honor that seemed to come with long hours and being busy all the time. I didn't want it then and I don't want it now.

So why do I still do it?

Part of it is the entrepreneurial push and part is the role my business plays in my life. It's an important part of me. But saying I'm busy all the time, or feeling the pressure to always be working doesn't make for better work. So it's time to stop.

I took all of Labor Day weekend off (enjoy my view above). Every single, solitary second. I didn't plan on it, but the outcome was more than I could have imagined. A clearer head. A fresher perspective. A calmer mind. A motivated Tuesday. And I plan to do it again later this year. Several times. I'll take a cue from my own missteps. This isn't just about working when I want or working all the time. It's the portion of my brain that's occupied with work. It's working smarter and better.

This last quarter of the year has to be productive for all of us, but there's also a ton of holiday and vacation time to be had. I wanted a life as an entrepreneur. In fact, I left the corporate world for it. Now it's time to make sure I don't revert to old habits, and, feel the need to tell everyone all the time.

As for you? Are you guilty even in the slightest? Don't tell me you're too busy to make a change. Be a role model. Model the time off for your team and see real results when they follow in your more relaxed and productive footsteps.



exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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