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There is No Way I Can Go on Vacation

August 11, 2010
by Pete Rivera
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We are told that we have to pick our battles. So it seems that with everything going on; Meaningful Use, ICD-10, 5010, VOIP, System Migrations, Data Repositories, project demands…we start turning off the noise. We have a lot to juggle when it comes to organizational responsibilities. But I think that stress plays and important part on how we are able to cope with what the organization is throwing at you.

Going away on a two week vacation was a great way to recharge my batteries. But I hear far too many times how it is just “impossible” to go on a two week vacation. Vacations typically last one week and that includes the blackberry or iPhone. Checking work e-mails, making a call (or two or three) back to the office. Then when you get back, counting all the e-mails that you did not get answered. You end up wishing for a vacation from your vacation. Ever wonder how the organization ever got along without you? If you do, then it’s time to evaluate your time management.

Of course I am talking about personal time management. Yep, you obviously can manage your work life (sort of) because you still have a job. You are dealing with all the issues I mentioned. Well maybe not with all of them, that ICD-10/5010 thing is still on the back burner. So what about personal time? Information Technology is a 24/7 job. If things are going to go wrong, they normally wait until it’s after-hours. So what do you have in place to deal with it? If you have to answer all the calls or if you insist on being in the loop 24/7, then you are not going to have any personal downtime.

Some basic tips:

a) Turn off your Smartphone (Gasp!). Yes that’s right; when you are at home, no major conversion happening…turn it off.

b) Delegate!! If you do not have anyone to delegate too, then guess what? You are not mentoring. We all need to have a “what happens if I get hit by a bus” plan. You need to have someone that understands who to call, how to fix things and when to truly escalate.

c) Exercise. Just walk. Nothing major (unless you are really into that). Maybe include your spouse in your daily walks (leaving your cell behind of course).

d) Take a vacation and delegate your e-mails. Create a rule to forward e-mails by topic or person to your delegated person. Make it clear that you are really out of pocket. Leave you phone in your bag or put it on airplane mode until you travel back home. I kept my phone on airplane mode and told my family to text me in the event of emergency. I would then briefly turn on my phone at night to check for texts, then right back to airplane mode.

The proliferation of mobile devices has somehow made us think that we are always in a mobile office. The phone rings and we have to answer it. The most annoying thing to me is when someone answers their cell in a meeting. It drives me crazy! Even when you develop meeting rules to prevent it, there will be somebody that answers the call only to say, “Can I call you back?” It’s like they have not figured out the concept of voice mail.

If this hits home with you, then you have to ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it because you’re indispensable? Is it because you fear that you will lose your job if someone else is covering for you?

Stress is real and has an impact on performance. So what are you doing to manage it?

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