Taking time for yourself doesn’t mean you don’t care — 1 of 31
Or “Recovery is an active process, dummy”
I’m a patron of Ninja Writers and this article is day one of the May Medium Post-a-Day Challenge of blogging for 30 consecutive days. Away we go!
I use a lot of exercise metaphors in my life to explain a lot of things. This article included.
If you’re a weightlifter/gymnast/athlete/whatever and you’re trying to gain muscle or tone up, you probably spend roughly an hour in the gym. Go hard, home.
But why not go all day? I mean, wouldn’t like, ten hours of weight lifting be ten times more effective?
You don’t grow muscle in the gym. You grow it by breaking it down in the gym, then resting/recovering with proper diet and hydration.
But amazingly, there’s this idea that taking time off work, even a few hours or just one day to yourself, to recharge is “doing nothing.”
Let me give you an example.
A few years ago, I used to drive for the ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber in Los Angeles. I started driving in 2013 when it was actually pretty profitable for most drivers (during the sweet spot — concept was catching on with passengers but not popular enough to get over-saturated with drivers and still pricey to make it worth the drivers’ time).
As the end ended and 2014 began, I couldn’t justify driving all those miles (on a 10 year old car, to boot) for less and less money once the two companies started battling and lowering their prices dramatically. Eventually, I stopped driving altogether, but being a veteran driver, I was invited to become a “Recruiter” by Lyft in the summer of 2014.
I had taken a job working from home as a transcriber for a production company and “recruited” for Lyft to grab some side income. I write “recruiting” because, well, for one, I didn’t officially work for the company. For all the bad press Uber gets (rightfully so in many cases), Lyft has tread in murky waters themselves. But that’s for another article.
Each recruiter had a list of people that signed up via the app. We called to gauge their interest and set up a time for them to meet with their Mentor (also not a Lyft employee) for a test drive. We had a Facebook group for the recruiters like me and the recruiting coordinator (an actual Lyft employee) to work through issues.
In August 2014, Lyft ran an advertisement aimed at potential drivers with a figure of money that was…not as feasible as they made it out to be. One of the recruiters posted in the group and asked that Lyft rescind the ad and replace the suggested earnings with something more realistic.
The coordinator responded that they did change the ad and it was done in error, but then another recruiter jumped in and claimed (without proof) that her recruits were making money like this all the time (when it was common knowledge those earnings were nearly impossible without exceeding the daily driving time limits AND referral bonuses).
I wrote that the hours necessary to make such money shouldn’t be something we suggest or encourage doing, as the hours would be excessive and lead to tired driving (I’m talking 80–90 hours a week). Fresh on my mind was the sad event where a little girl was hit and killed by a driver who was distracted and tired from driving on New Year’s Eve.
The fellow recruiter then remarked that some people just want it more and are willing to work harder.
Look, dudes and dudettes. I’ve lived that overwork life. The one where I convinced myself that if I wasn’t working, I must not care. The loyal worker bee. Model employee.
Pounding (free) energy drinks. Getting to the office early and leaving late. Seamless every night for dinner. Being at the office past midnight on multiple occasions. Seriously considering sleeping at the office. Friends asking, “So, do you do anything outside of work?”, Getting multiple versions of “Well, you’re off at 7, but this needs to be done by tomorrow morning, so…”
I’ve seen all the #hustleandgrind and #getafterit posts, especially on LinkedIn, where “All work and no play” is seen as admirable and worthy of imitation. I’ve read #AskGaryVee and I respect his work/mindset. And I know the more work you put in, the more success you’re likely to see. Every work cliche you can think of, but…
You need to let that battery recharge. Recovery is an active process.
What can happen with overwork? My colleagues have experienced it.
While the majority of us have smart phones, tablets, and all sorts of ways to never disconnect from our jobs…just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Oh, sure. Doctors are on call. So, are Military/firefighters/police/EMTs/etc.
Of course. Their jobs are literally life or death. Professions not meant for everybody. And they actually will go through long periods of recharging after a particularly long tour/shift.
Your brain is a muscle. So, just like you would rest your chest or legs after a particularly rough workout, you need to let your mind rest as well. Sleeping in, fresh air and sunlight (resetting your Circadian Rhythm, allowing for more restful sleep), a good walk, an engaging fantasy novel, a long chat with an old friend.
By doing these things, you restore balance. Your work will be there when you get back. You can’t do heavy back squats after you did them for an hour earlier in the day. At some point, hard work does more harm than good.
Oh yeah, I got terminated from that job. I landed a much better one where if I need a 15 minute walk to get some air and the blood pumping (and pad my FitBit steps), the boss is all for it.
Work hard and rest peacefully.