Out Of Office

I have never been good at letting things sit. Whether its my list of things that I have to get through at work or my never-ending cycle of domestic chores, it is very hard for me to relax. When I’m at work I often feel like I need to be constantly working on a report or be on the phone making sales calls, and when I’m at home there’s always a constant to-do list that I can never seem to finish. No matter where I am, it’s very hard for me to put things out of my mind. And honestly, that go-go-go mentality has gotten me into trouble more than once. So, instead of focusing on the inter-workings of being in the office this week, I thought it might be good for all of us if we dedicated at least one post to the importance of being Out Of Office (OOO).

When it comes to millennials taking vacation there are two distinct camps that we tend to fall into. The first camp is the fun one! It’s the one where we try to finagle half-days on Fridays so we can take a Spirit Airlines flight to see our college friends every other weekend for $49. In this camp millennials know precisely how many vacation/sick days they have and have them all planned out within about the first week of the year. We’ve got a beach trip, a California trip, and a quick little three-four days overseas jaunt all planned out and approved by our supervisors before MLK weekend.

The second camp is the worker bee camp; the one where we push ourselves so hard during the week that the only thing we’re good for on the weekends is working out, drinking too much, and sleeping until 2pm (looking at you investment bankers and consultants). In this camp, millennials put blinders on and chase after a goal (usually money or a promotion), too hard and too quickly. It’s the embodiment of the “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality, and it just isn’t healthy. 

For a lot of you, I can practically hear your future groans as you read that. “Ugh, not another spiel that I need to take better care of myself. How original (*eye roll).” Trust me, I hear you. A lot of the time I’m inclined to think the same way. But in terms of career development, your health and state of mind go a long way in determining not only your own success, but also how your coworkers and managers think about you.

We all know now that eating right and exercise are good for us, but just taking care of our bodies isn’t always enough. Stress is something that everyone deals with, whether it’s related to work, relationships, etc. Stress can be both physical and mental and when we don’t take time away from the things that cause us stress, our health, appearance, attitude, and work performance can decline rapidly. The good news? The majority of that stress can be easily relieved when we take the time do it.

A friend and colleague of mine, Diana Murphy, explains this perfectly in one of her talks where she shares the biggest cause of stress for one of her clients:

“What is stressing you out? Commuting to work.

Why are you stressed out about commuting to work? I’m worried that being late to work will ruin my day.

How does thinking that you’re going to be late make you feel? Anxious, tense.

How do you react at work when you feel anxious and tense? I rush into the office and grab whatever is in the break room for breakfast and rush into my day. I feel anxious and tense most of the morning. I hate my commute!

What results are you getting at work? I don’t think as clearly and make bad food choices and start the day feeling rushed.

And you won’t believe the answer to the next question…

How often have you been late to work? I think I’ve been late to work maybe once or twice this year. Oh………… wow.

Can you see that her thinking the thought, “If I’m late for work its going to ruin my day” was at fault, not actually BEING LATE FOR WORK!!! We cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary stress and worry thinking in a way that causes stress. Awareness alone can shift your thinking. When you shift your thinking, you shift how you feel. This helps you to create much better results in your work and in your life.”

We all have things like this that make us stressed, that get us all worked-up and throw us off our game. Commutes, deadlines, coworkers, bosses, the list goes on and on. And no matter how good of a poker face you might think you have, when you’re stressed, it shows. (Just ask anyone at my first job, I am not very good at hiding when I’m stressed).

So, how do we help ourselves? For millennials, finding the balancing act between the two camps (fun and worker bee), can be harder than you might think. On the one hand, you’re young with minimal commitments and have your own income for the first time. There’s no mortgage, no children’s scheduled to plan around, and your vacation time isn’t as strictly confined by your company as it might be later on. It’s the perfect time to travel! On the other hand, the more time you spend OOO the more you’re not on-hand if you managers need something and the less entrenched you are in what is going on.

The middle ground lies somewhere in between the two camps. Vacations and time away are crucial for our general well-being, but I’d argue that what’s even more important is knowing how to unplug and just step away from things for a bit during the day-to-day. Crunch-time at work? Read a few pages of a novel during your lunch break to reset yourself. Trying to work on a complicated projections sheet over the weekend? Take your dog for a walk around the block. Chances are that what will take you three hours to do when you’re stressed, may only take you twenty or thirty minutes when you’re fresh.

When you’re starting a new job it can be difficult to adjust. If you’re coming from college, where you set your own schedule, studied one subject for an hour before physically moving to a different building to study the next one, and could sleep-in until 10am and work from 7pm to 2am if you wanted to, an 8am to 5pm set day sitting in a cubicle can induce a lot of stress. It can make us beg to cut-out early on Fridays and dread Mondays with a passion. And that’s completely normal. The trick for all of us to find the right balance between work and play that helps us grow professionally while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“Honor your desire to get away, spend some time [every day] doing something you love or want to experience. You’ll NEVER regret it!” -Diana Murphy

Got a useful tip for alleviating stress? Let us know!