I work hard doing work I love. I am fortunate in that. And, I get to mostly do it from home which takes away a lot of the daily stresses (clean clothes, lunches, commutes). And yet, without the guardrails of regular work hours and employer expectations, it is easy to start to work all the time. Maybe not for hours on end but in bursts and starts that eventually take over the whole day. Work is always the focus.
Checking email is the worst culprit: quick glances throughout the day and following up with minor issues that didn’t need same day responses. (I get lots of “wow, thanks for getting back to me so quickly,” replies by way of example.)
And then, I had my hip replaced on December 11, 2019, and made a promise mostly to myself to just let it all go. Put up an out of office and go on leave. And, miracle of miracles, I did it. At first, it was because I really was in recovery, but after ten days, I was doing well both physically and mentally and would have been easily able to dive in. Yet, I didn’t even as I saw the number of messages ticking upwards in the app. Life could and would go on without me.
What did I do instead? First, I didn’t go offline completely. But, I did redirect my time. I tried to get engaged in Twitter more deeply than just retweeting and liking. I had a little success with some conversations. I also got more involved in LibraryThing and continue to make that community my priority for online interactions.
Offline, I read, played the piano, and crocheted, finishing up some of my Christmas gifts and then diving into my first piece of crocheted clothing: a sweater vest for my dad. It took a couple tries to get going but it is coming together nicely. I am a little worried that it is going to be too big but I guess that is better than too small.
So, as with many of you out there, this morning was something of a shock to the system. Honestly, the email was easily dealt with (mostly spam and promotions and updates), but after 90 minutes of reading and adding to the task list, I was tired, longing for the freedom of the past three weeks. And, I thought, there wasn’t any reason not to close out and take a break. So, that’s what I did. Took a break. Read a book. Wrote this blog post. Had lunch with my husband.
And, tried hard not to feel guilty that I hadn’t immediately put my shoulder to the proverbial grindstone the way most of my colleagues are doing at this very moment. From break to work without any kind of real transition. It’s tough for adults and probably tougher for the kids. Learning to put work in perspective, learning how to create a humane schedule, learning when you work best or when you need a break. All of those are lessons that, evidently have taken me 20 years and a new hip to learn. I wonder how we might help our children learn them along the way?