Taking an Escape From Work

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In my article from January, I urged you to take time off. Today, COVID-19 has directly or indirectly impacted not only our time but also our mental and physical health. 

My message from January still stands, however — we still need an escape from work. Taking a physical and mental break this summer has never been more important. As we have all learned, home does not equal a break/vacation.

While on deadline writing this column, there was this cute, tiny distraction who kept getting in my way: my 10-month-old puppy Molly. As much as I love to hang out with her, when Molly wants my attention it’s tough to focus on work — even on deadline.

Throughout the pandemic, I have evolved my mindset for the times when she tries to get my attention during the day. When I take time out to play fetch, rub her belly and give her all the attention she deserves, I have focused on the benefits, not the burden. Ultimately, she expends a lot of energy so she can nap. I enjoy playing with her and my mental and physical state is improved!

As easy as it might sound to simply tell you to get a pet, that’s not practical or realistic. However, what I can tell you is that you are in more control of your wellness than you realize. 

If you do these three things every day, you will continue to thrive in your career and spend quality time with your family while prioritizing your health and wellness. 

1. Identify your daily “no distraction” time.

Is your calendar “open” all day, every day? If so, you are sending two messages:

• “I am always here to help!” I understand! We are in public relations, a service industry. We want to be available! However, it leads to:

• “I will prioritize everyone and everything over myself.”

We need to evolve past this self-perception that we aren’t doing our jobs if we aren’t available all the time. Setting boundaries will not only improve your health and well-being, it will show others that you are creating a standard for them to follow.

I recommend blocking off at least 30-60 minutes every day that can’t be used for meetings. Find the best time that you can benefit from no distractions. 

2. Identify your daily “walk and talk” time.

I recommend auditing the next five days of meetings that are scheduled. Identify one meeting per day that you can take as a walk and talk meeting, vs. sitting at your desk or conference room. Some of my walk and talks are for business, however many of my walk and talks are family time with my wife Christine and Molly to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Our walk and talks are scheduled during business hours, yet it is sacred to our family. We only cancel or postpone in case of an emergency. 

Your walk and talk meeting — whether it’s virtual or in-person — should be planned for and scheduled during the day.

3. Identify your connection time.

As an extrovert throughout COVID-19, it has been difficult for me not to be around people — so I’ve had to find new ways to stay social. Throughout quarantine, I check in every few days with a select group of people. I block off 30 minutes at least two to three days per week to send messages. Recipients are a mixture of friends, current and former clients, former colleagues, and trusted advisors.

I ask how they are doing. They push me, I push them. They empower me, I empower them.

This has helped me immensely to stay mentally healthy through this time, and I guarantee I will stay connected with them this summer and beyond. 

Find your group of people this summer. Check in on them. They will appreciate it, and you will feel all the better for doing so during this time. What will you do this summer to take the time to make your health and wellness a priority? 

photo credit: pert.ru

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