Ode to the Unplug

I work to live, not the other way around. We have all said this phrase -- some more than others -- but somehow it seems to have a hypocritical correlation as the more we say it, the more it is not true. I am absolutely guilty of this. I can be heard uttering a form of this phrase at least once a week but you can always find me working 12 hour days, Monday through Friday, and a good bit of work on the weekend. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love what I do and who I get to work with on a daily basis but burnout is inevitable. I’m especially susceptible to burnout as I’m an ENTJ based on the Myers-Briggs personality test. From my profile type: “takes an action-oriented, energetic approach to problems but will suppress their own feelings and needs in pursuit of the goal.” I love my personality type (and I guess I can’t do much to change it!) but I burnout at least once a month and have to have others keep a close eye on me to make sure I don’t. Even though work-life balance is very important to me, I have to make sure I actually accomplish it.

I recently took an 11 day, device free (almost!), vacation to Costa Rica. I didn’t have my laptop but the urge to check email on my phone was real. In some ways I am addicted to my devices but I believe one of my mentors, Paul Dejoe, described it the best: “It's very difficult to ‘turn it off’. But at the same time, television, movies and vacations become so boring to you when your company's future might be sitting in your inbox or in the results of a new A/B test you decided to run.” It’s not that I love staring at my screen for half the day but the drive for success is so strong that the pain of long hours is brushed to the side. This was why this vacation was so nice. I wasn’t able to wake up at 6am and feel the need to immediately check my email. For the first time in years I got over a week of full nights sleep back-to-back. It was an amazing feeling. Exploring the jungle, beaches, seeing sloths and eating great cuisine was food for my soul, the likes of which obliterated all my stresses and allowed me to re-focus on the big picture.

I recently read an amazing article about how FullContact is now offering $7500 (on top of PTO and Pay) per year for their employees to go on vacation. The 3 catches? They must go on vacation, they can’t work while doing so and they have to completely disconnect. These guys seem to understand the big picture of not having their workers be unhappy and knowing that if they go on vacation, they will be more productive at work when they return. I’m pretty dang proud of our team being fully virtual and the success we’ve had even though we’ve never had everyone in the same room. I hope that we can always live where we want to as I want everyone to be able to easily pursue their passions, on a daily basis, and not make any untold personal sacrifices. Towards the end of this vacation, I was itching to check my email, not because I wanted to know about some new leads, but because I was so energized and stoked to get back with the team! This short sabbatical reminded me that it is critically important for us all to take vacation time and not get too bogged down with our work. In the end, our life’s experiences are what we will remember in our final hours so I hope each of us will have plenty to think about!