When was the last time you stopped?
I’m fortunate to work at a place (Figma) that grants us “recharge days” every so often. Despite having a batch of vacation days to use up over the course of the year, working remotely for ~12 months has meant that our colleagues are feeling the ache of a lack of true break.
It’s no secret that it’s a lot easier to work more when you’re at home and remote. Time can slip and before you know it you’ve not left your desk in 4 hours and your eyeballs are drier than the Sahara.
On top of this, we’re one swipe away from opening Slack (or Teams, or whatever you use) on our phones and being connected to work whilst we cook our dinner, or lounge on the sofa vacuously watching another TV series because we’re too fried to do anything else.
We’re connected…all the time, and it’s tough. A business is incentivised to increase revenues, and what increases revenues? More work.
This is where us being remote and connected more actually makes sense for a business owner, and with a lack of industry union or efforts to create a “this is enough work” guideline, we’re all on the hamster wheel until we fall off due to burnout.
Back to my recharge days. This weekend I managed to not open my laptop for two consecutive days. That sounds like a trivial win, but I’d like to offer you all the opportunity to spend 30 seconds thinking about the last time you went this long without putting yourself into work mode.
Let’s go one step further. When was the last time you didn’t open a social media app on your phone for an entire day?
I could go on forever, but you get the gist. We’re attached to connectivity like never before, and it needs to be reigned in before we really do have square eyes.
The buck doesn’t stop at employment either. Our hobbies, particularly in tech, are often our work only we don’t get paid for it. Do you work on designs in your spare time? Maybe read a tonne of newsletters? Or, better yet, just work and not tell your boss you are? Our obsession with bettering ourselves will naturally lead us here, and no one is there to stop us.
It’s ultimately on us to set these boundaries, but we can’t succeed without a collective drive to make things better. This “better” is placed in the wider context of (most of) us being given the luxury to work from the comfort of our own homes, in our pyjamas and without having to be thrown head first into the fire of a contagious virus.
That being said, we are still human and deserve better. If you’re a manager, ensure that your team are taking breaks and clocking off when their contracted hours say so. If you’re a business owner, do the same and more to help us all prioritise not working.
If it wasn’t for taking a break, I wouldn’t have been able to clear the space required to write this piece. Creativity flourishes when there is a conscious effort to make room for it, and without this we will hit our mental blocks faster and faster.
I’m fully aware of the irony of me writing something on a digital platform whilst talking about the important of not doing this, but we can save that for another time.