I tripped on some ice in the dimly-lit parking lot. I came close to falling over, but caught myself. I looked around to see if anyone noticed, but then I remembered that most people — okay, most sane people — were still cuddled up in a warm bed next to Fido or their significant other. I was still new to the work force, in just my second job, and was trying to get a head start on several stories I was writing for the next day’s newspaper.
As a kid, I had watched my mother get up early for work. She’d be up and around before the clock struck five. Heck, she’d have two cups of coffee in before I even put one foot on the floor. On this day though, the moon was still high in the sky. I no longer lived at home, but I had my mother beat by a mile.
I remembered the day recently because I recalled that when I left the office later that night, after most of my peers had left for the day, I tripped over the exact same piece of ice, this time falling flat on my face. I nearly broke my nose. The only thing that saved me from a trip to the emergency room was the snow pile that I landed on and eased the fall. I laid in the pile for a long time before getting back up off the ground. I picked up my scattered notebooks, newspapers, and duffle bag and promised myself that I would start working that weekend on sending out a new batch of resumes and cover letters for a new job, preferably one in a warmer climate or one where they plowed the parking lot.
Work, work, work, and more work
I’m very much a workaholic. Now I’ve learned in the twenty-some years since how to better manage my workload, but it can still be challenging. We have mobility tools or smart apps now that allow you to work smarter and in ways that I could have only imagined when I was first breaking into the workforce. I worked from home one day last week in my Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants. While wonderful, I find that I need to manage these new tools and freedom or they end up managing me.
Managing technology or technology managing me?
I make fun of my son all the time for how much time he spends on his phone. I find though that I’m just as bad. Instead of checking out Snapchat, Instagram or playing a game on my smart phone, I spend my downtime checking work emails.
Here’s a few examples:
–We’re out celebrating my son’s good grades. We’re all having a fun time. We’re all laughing and enjoying each other’s company. We’re enjoying the moment. The waitress stops by to take our order. In the pause between the waitress leaving and our conversation starting up again, I open up my work app to check my email. A member of my team has asked about how we’re going to take care of an issue that came up late on Friday. Now the issue could’ve waited, but I’m jumping on it. I don’t want it to spark out-of-control by Monday morning. In my haste, I look up to see my wife giving me a frown. The kids are now all heads down looking into their phones too. I’ve been caught red-handed. I quickly click off the phone, but the damage has been done.
–I’m out for a run on a recent Saturday morning. When I run, my mind tends to wander. If you let me at it long enough, I’d probably find a way to bring about World Peace. In any event, I was appalled when I finish up and realize how much time I’ve spent fretting and worrying about work. The run was supposed to be relaxing, but actually got me more keyed up.
–Finally, I still bring work home occasionally, presentations that I’m working on, pieces I’m finishing up. I try to keep it to a minimum, but I find it can still get out of control.
I’m like most people, I’m trying to manage all the different balloons that I’m responsible for in my life. Some days I keep the balloons in the air, other days some get by me. I have my moments of success, but then I have my moments of failure too. It’s a constant balancing act.
And, yes I’ve had a few stumbles, but I’m getting better about saying no and, more importantly, I’m living in the moment.