Article written by Anna Siassios, Head of Marketing & Operations at FEW.
Everyone I speak to is under immense pressure. Busy is no longer a short period throughout the year, it’s a constant reality.
Deadlines are increasing, end of financial year is approaching, new projects are added to our to-do lists, BAU still needs to happen, managing the pressure of restructures and for some of us this is all happening while we’re trying to lead a team.
Many years ago, I did some work on Self Awareness, a soft skill I believe to be one of the most valuable to master. It’s a constant learning for me. As we evolve, we learn new things about ourselves. Recently I could tell my mood was changing, I was no longer as patient as I used to be, I was very task driven and no ‘play’ with my team. I guess one would say not so much fun to be around which is very out of character for me.
I remember one night, on the drive home thinking about my to-do list and that instead of ticking things off I was adding to it and just thought.... ‘I need a break... but I can’t. I’m going on mat leave soon, it’s just a bad time’. I thought I needed to change my mind set to a more positive one and to change my approach. Well I guess you can say that worked for a short period of time. But again, on another drive home I was adding to my to-do list and the pressure I was putting on myself for not getting through my workload was mounting and becoming unbearable. So, I thought ‘I just have to take time off’. I didn’t want to go away anywhere but rather do nothing and switch off. So, I did it. I knew there was never going to be a good time, I needed this, and it was going to be better for the business and my overall performance.
No email and no work calls. Voicemail was changed and the out of office was on.
I didn’t go anywhere, and I didn’t tell anyone in my family other than my husband. I took care of some very desperately neglected life admin. I finished reading a book (I started at the beginning of the year), slept in, went for daily walks and I really enjoyed having the time to work out during the day, bake and cook some hearty winter meals (I missed having time to cook)!
I have just come back after 10 days of leave and I am pumped to get back into it. I’m refreshed, recharged and ready to take it all on again. I feel happier and I know the business is going to benefit from this short break I have just taken. And guess what?... nothing fell apart while I was away, and nothing was so important that I needed to be interrupted.
My point is we need to recognise the burn out before it’s too late as it impacts our performance and attitude. Most businesses encourage you to reduce your annual leave balance, take advantage of that. Whether it be a short getaway or just taking time off for yourself. It is worth it in more ways than we recognise.
Our industry has gone through massive change and I believe that change is the ‘new black’. It’s how we deal with it that makes us better leaders, colleagues and team players.
Take the time off, book it in and have something to look forward to.