Why we need time to hang out, chill out and waste time in our busy lives.
A new book Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle suggests that at least 42% of our lives need to be spent in rest and recovery for us to function and more importantly avoid burnout. That's 10 hours a day for sleep, exercise, food and reconnection to ourselves.
For me that still seems like jamming a lot into my non-sleep self-time. Where is showering and staring at the mirror? Where's the hours spent in wondering the house picking things up just to put them down, chilling on couch with your kids and/or screen devices, aimless (but not pointless) conversations with family and friends? Where's the playing tug of war with the dog and worrying if her teeth are starting to fallout and then playing it again?
However, I do agree with the overarching premise that running your life you are some sort of machine is never going to be a sustainable way of work and life.
Now I am a classic over-achieving, FOMO, A-type personality, who learnt to overcome (ignore?) my fear of failure, rejection and even mental health issues by creating an inner-bully that would drive me to work 10-12 hours a day, never home before 8pm and got me anxious on weekends.
I loved getting involved in new projects, being asked to contribute, having a 100-things on the go, and generally feeling very “busy and important”.
However, the result is that this punishing cycle resulted in zombie like periods of burnout that became harder and harder to overcome as I got older. Instead of being able to juggle multiple projects I would struggle to complete a simple task, like registering my car as my brain was a fog of doubts, confusion and fear.
Recovery takes rest – serious rest. The kind that is boring and depressing and has you feeling valueless. The kind that feels like it will never end because you have no energy (and no confidence) to make any change.
Your personality changes, your friends dis-engage, and your family is patient and loving but also worried when this period will end.
And all because I thought it was more important to complete some tasks, work until 1am or 2am in the morning then come home, rest, relax and re-connect.
The adage is that no-one ever regretted not spending more time at work on their death beds.
I encourage you not to wait until then, but to take that on every day as you clock off at a sensible time and head home (without your devices). It is very unlikely that anyone will die from your actions, and others may even learn to respect this change in your behaviour.
Martyrdom after all is highly over-rated. Leave the late-night office to those having affairs.