Monday, November 19, 2012

Give yourself a break

As we head into Thanksgiving week (and the way-too-prematurely-arrived Christmas, etc. holiday season), I've found myself a little more scattered and less focused than usual.  I'm more easily distracted and have a harder time lately finishing a task, and I find myself with a shorter fuse.  Part of this has been due to some recent deadlines (two big meetings on the same day? oh, you should't have!), and part of it has been due to being just worn out. My projects have been moving at a pretty fast clip for a few months straight now, and I think it's taken a toll on the entire team, not just me.

The peril of white-collar work is that it's never really "done"--there's always something else to be done, and there's no clear boundary on our tasks.  Add in the ability to check our work email on our phones or iPads (guilty here) during the weekend, and it's easy to see the source of exhaustion. How can you rest when you can never get away, never get a break?  The truth about architecture is that there's always something else that you can do once you're done with the tasks you've been given.  If we carry that logic to one conclusion, then we'd never leave the office, because there's always something else to do.

But if we carry the "there's always something else to do" logic to another conclusion--a more sensible and prudent one--then we do get to go home, not check email, not plan our nights an weekends to revolve around our days. If there's always something else to do, then we're never going to finish. Sounds like a good time for a glass of wine, reading a book, or going biking.  (I wouldn't try all of those at once--pretty sure it's either impossible or illegal. But you get the point.)

You will feel the pressure to do more, draw more, research more, and be more.  You will stretch and push yourself to accomplish more personally and professionally.  If the pushing and pressure doesn't ease up eventually, though, you will feel your body and mind revolt.  You'll come into work and feel depleted or even defeated.  I'm asking you to honor that feeling for the sake of your sanity, your job, your project, and your profession.  You owe it to yourself to be healthy, and you owe it to your coworkers and clients to give your best to the project.  If you're too worn out to give your best, take the time you need to replenish and rest.  The work will be here when you're ready--it's always here.

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