Yep, today is just one of those days, where concentration is elusive, thoughts keep rebounding in my skull and my general productivity level is reaching an all time low. Why is that? The last few weeks have been particularly repetitive, with a lot of work going into writing my master thesis and constantly re-adjusting/tailoring my cover letters to some interesting job postings I had seen. I’ll admit, I have a hard time cutting myself some slack especially when I’m under pressure with a multitude of goals to reach.
For the most part this attitude can give great results, as perseverance and consistency often yield great results in the long run, however on this particular day it backfired spectacularly, I could not get myself to work on pretty much anything – except this post. What I have come to realize, is that regardless of the situations you face, you need to still take time, to take care of yourself and not concentrate all of your time to work and productivity. It just doesn’t work that way, you seriously risk burning out.
The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.” “A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress,” says Dr. Ballard, who is the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”
I had read some articles on the subject already and wondered if today’s predicament may actually be a warning flag that I might be headed that way. So despite my willingness to stay on the couch and just let time pass by in an awkward mix of half written essays, dull cover letters and distracting Youtube videos, I forced myself to get out of the house and do something that would be good for me as a person, not for my personal goals. Off we go! I set myself en route to get some pizza – as the true Italian I am – along the canal district of the city, probably the area in town I most prefer. There I was gingerly using up my precious time in the middle of the afternoon, yet despite having to keep at bay the gnawing feeling that I was not being effective, it felt great to be outside, you would really be surprised what great effect a little wind and sun can have on you. After about an hour of much-needed respite, my inner planner could not endure any more, so I made my way back home.
A few minutes later my phone rang, it was a recruitment manager who had found my profile interesting. The conversation went along for about ten to fifteen minutes and we scheduled a second meeting. In short, it went great. However I am mostly inclined to attribute the successfulness of the call, to the fact that I was feeling much better compared to the morning, I was energetic, positive, alive. Asides my communications skills or flair for oral communication, it was taking care of my morale that truly made the difference. In a sense, eating pizza and enjoying an hour of my time, had been the best preparation I could have had for that unexpected call. In a parallel universe where I did not take such action, I can clearly imagine myself beeing nervous, unresponsive and unenthusiastic during the phone interview.
So what I’m trying to convey to my other fellow #aboutograduates, is that it’s ok to take a break, it’s not a crime to enjoy life even when duty calls, it’s not unthinkable to sometimes just let something slide to the next day and enjoy the moment. Mind you I certainly don’t advocate complacency and laziness, however, I do support having a more balanced lifestyle. It’s hard to put in practice, I realize that. Especially within a society that keeps portraying the elusive and very untruthful myth of the always working – always successful man, that never burns out, that works 100 hours a week and is always fulfilled in the pursuit of his dream. What is compromising our ability to manage ourselves is that realism so rarely exists as a role model, nobody wants to talk about that, why? because it doesn’t sell.
So before you embark on trying to be or emulate the next super-human or super-woman, please take into account these words that have always resonate so deeply in my mind: “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. Wouldn’t you agree?
Written by Marco Cella, Business Analyst and M.Sc. from Copenhagen Business School.
Business Analyst at Pierre Fabre A/S
M.Sc. Management of Innovation and Business Development from Copenhagen Business School
Connect with Marco on LinkedIn
Best career advice Marco ever received:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So don’t hold back and put yourself out there even though it’s scary.”