It’s easy for us to get in the groove, work long days, driving projects forward, leading from the front and looking to achieve one more goal, one last deliverable.
But in reality it’s not sustainable, we can keep working at the level for a few months, but eventually our performance will be impacted, the quality will start to drop and it will effect us, in one way or another.
As leaders we have a dual responsibility, firstly to ourselves, we need to take time to re-energize, to step back, relax and re-group before we start that next challenge.
Secondly and more importantly, we have a responsibility to our teams too. As leaders, they often look to us and reflect the culture that we create, and it’s important that that culture also includes time for rest and relaxation. If we don’t do that, then we are not creating a healthy environment for our teams.
As someone who doesn’t need a lot of sleep, and is nearly always full of energy, this is something I need to constantly remind myself. Everyone is different and has different relaxation needs and I need to ensure that they take the time to reenergize, even at times when it’s not something that I may need myself.
We need to keep our teams healthy and factor rest and relaxation into the working schedule, this helps reduce stress and maintain a higher quality of output.
For sure there will be time when we are under the gun and need to put in a little bit extra, but we also need to balance this out when the times are a bit quieter.
One of the things I am not keen on, is when people plan projects and look to use weekends as their main source of contingency, as there are always problems in projects and if our solution is weekend working, then this can quickly lead to teams working non-stop without breaks.
I have no problem with using weekends to catch up, but this should be an exception, not the norm.
In some companies, I have seen weekend working become the solution to bad planning.
In my opinion, contingency should be built into the plan, but this should not be 100% weekend and overtime working, there should be enough slack in the plan so that it can be completed within normal working hours.
One of the my challenges is, to know when I need to re-energize, its easy to be working flat out and not see the signs, the adrenalin rush can hide a lot of problems.
How often do we see people take vacations and fall ill at the same time, for me this is usually because adrenalin was keeping me going, and as soon as I stopped, my body just went flop. Which then resulted in me spending the vacation with cold or flu, which then impacts the ability to re-energize.
You end up coming back from vacation, in need of a vacation.
We need to ensure that we re-energize during the week as well, not just waiting for our two week vacation to do so. If we re-energize during the week then when it comes to our vacations we can really enjoy them, and that we owe to our families.
We often hear and talk about work/life balance, I used to think this was about spending more time at home that I had previously. But in reality this is about balancing our energy and ensuring that each part of our lives gets a fair share.
Spending more time at home, but tired, is not really a good solution to work/life balance.
We need to ensure that we keep enough energy for our private lives, enough so that we can participate and not just spectate. So that we can be present, and not just in attendance.
Reading all this it seems like we have more time and more things to do, than we have energy for.
Just realizing this, means that we put ourselves in a position where maybe we can choose where we want to spend our energy, which is a step in the right direction.
When we understand the importance of re-energizing, then we can look to include it into our schedules, often it’s the first thing to go when we are under pressure, but in reality it should be the last.
Everything we do needs energy, and if we don’t re-energize, it’s like driving the car without refueling. Which is never good for the car.