I was talking with a very solid CIO last week—a real 'A' Player—about an opportunity we're working on. We'd spoken (many times) before so I already knew his credentials, but I wanted to schedule some time the following week to have an in-depth conversation about the role and location, and also to understand where he was as far as evaluating the opportunity. His answer (unfortunately) didn't surprise me. "I'm on vacation next week, but the house we rented is fully wired and I'll have my Blackberry and laptop with me to stay connected, so let's talk then".
In today's wired world, real vacations—for many of us—are a thing of the past. Too many of us treasure the ability to remain connected to our jobs and projects 24-7 and we worry about what we might miss while we are away. Sooner or later, however, this never-stop-working mentality is going to catch up with us. Burn-out and high stress levels can—and will—manifest themselves in physical health problems. It's pretty scary. It seems that during the economic downturn this problem became worse because job security paranoia suddenly became a reality as organizations eliminated positions to save money, shore up cash and improve earnings.
We're unable to break away from our day-to-day work lives and simply enjoy our families/friends/loved ones, because we never disconnect. And I mean never. We are out of balance. Even airlines have jumped on the bandwagon: now some of us can take advantage of Wi-Fi while cruising along sending work related e-mails at 500 MPH and 30,000 feet above sea level. We can't seem to avoid the temptation. My travel time always includes whatever book I'm currently reading; just escaping for a couple of hours and taking advantage of the fact that while flying the friendly skies, nobody can call me. Nope. That's my "me" time. I like that!
So the next time you pack your bags or the car for a family vacation or a getaway with the one you love, try to g ive them what they want the most - your time. We all have a choice when it comes to work/life balance. Unfortunately, too many of us need to log in or sneak a peek at what might've landed in the inbox since the last time we checked - five minutes ago. Give it up. My advice? Turn. It. Off. Instead, focus on the things and people who matter the most.
Your work will be there when you get back. Promise!