I just published my first ever post on LinkedIn! I may move my blogs there in future as they’ll be seen by more people. I hope. But I’ll put links to them here.
Anyway here it is.
We are now full swing into the holiday season but how many of us take our work head with us when we go away? How many of us need to have our iPhones or iPads prized out of our hot little hands?
“Will you STOP checking your emails! We’re supposed to be ON HOLIDAY!” Sound familiar? Come on, be honest. I only recently came into possession of an iPhone. Then an iPad and finally I got the full set when I bought my first laptop. I’d resisted all these “devices” for years because I knew I could not be trusted with them. I knew they were irresistible, addictive even.
I eventually succumbed not because my work as a freelance writer demanded it but because a dear friend gave me her old iPhone when she upgraded. As a Mac user getting used to the interface took about ten seconds. That was it. Hooked! When you work as a freelancer you are always at work and never at work. It’s an odd sort of life but, in my case at least, a very enjoyable one. Holidays though if you’re not careful can be like swapping one desk for another. When you hear people say that freelancers or anyone who is self employed needs to be highly disciplined they usually mean disciplined enough to make sure you work every day – not disciplined enough to make sure that sometimes you don’t!
If you’re lucky enough to thoroughly enjoy your work it is hard to leave it behind when you go on holiday, especially as connectivity is improving all the time. Sometimes when I check into a hotel on holiday and the WiFi is down or doesn’t exist I feel a slight sense of relief and liberation. But it shouldn’t take this to stop you clicking your way through what’s supposed to be time off. Your time off and your family’s too.
My fingers twitch all the time wanting to check not so much emails but my Twitter feed, Facebook and a few private online forums I belong to. Others can’t resist news feeds. We need to learn to stop this though as our heads need a break. Leaving work behind is difficult if you’re in a pressurized environment with more and more expected of you. Lunch? Lunch is for those who don’t care about keeping their jobs.
Does this kind of work culture make any of us truly happy though? Or more to the point more productive? I doubt it. Lucy Kellaway pretty much nails it – as she so often does – in her FT column about owning up to not giving a damn about work.
I’m not sure I could ever go that far because I do love work and I love earning money for writing, as I’m fairly sure Kellaway with her prodigious output does too. But her point, and mine, is that we shouldn’t care too much about work. It’s not good for us and it’s not good for our productivity as enlightened employers realise.
Checking your brain at the door when you get home from work – in my case going downstairs – is a skill we all need to acquire and become very good at. It can take more self discipline to switch off than switch on but we owe it not just to those we’re on holiday with but to ourselves too.
Go on, take a trashy novel to the beach or the lake with you instead of all your “devices”. Stick an out-of-office response on your email and BE out of the office. Have a great holiday and if you have been, thanks for reading.