Being intentional with my time is an integral part of setting myself up for success. I perform my best when my time is well planned, which includes planning time for myself. Having stated this, let me be clear – I have struggled at times with finding balance between my personal life and my career. Many of us began our careers when the idea of career-life integration was not even a concept given any thought. It was just expected that everyone gets their work done and everything else would get whatever time we had left (just a hint, it was not much time). Fortunately, the working world has progressed since I began my career, and we have come to realize that to lead healthy, productive lives, we must find appropriate balance between our careers and our broader lives with friends, families and communities.
During the past year, our efforts to balance our careers and our lives have been challenged on a number of levels like never before. When I hear the staggering numbers of those experiencing burnout, at DHG and in the broader business world, it makes sense to me. At times, it seems impossible to close our computers at night. Without the "casual collisions" that take place in the office and the natural breaks we had come to count on – driving or commuting to work, getting lunch, driving back home – the workday can feel never-ending and isolating.
It is absolutely necessary to plan time to rest, recover and recharge this summer, and just like we learned to adapt to the pandemic, we all must re-learn how to step back and give ourselves a break. Recovery is essential to effectively deliver on our strategy and values, and to prevent burnout. Our DHG Healthcare Consulting Team conducted fascinating research on burnout and the impact of COVID-19, which has exacerbated and amplified burnout across all industries.
Your Life Beyond Numbers Matters
I want to stress that your life in and out of the office matters to us. It is why we are moving to a new hybrid workplace called DHG Anywhere. People who live fulfilling, rich lives outside of work—who have the freedom to pursue their personal passions—make happier, more successful professionals and team members.
With the Tokyo Summer Olympics around the corner, think about the purposeful breaks that are woven into many sports, such as half times and timeouts, to make sure athletes have adequate time to recover. As professionals, we need to adopt a similar mindset and be intentional with our breaks so we can perform at our peak. You can hear it first from me, if you have not heard it yet – I expect everyone at DHG to be as intentional about their recovery plan (their own timeouts) as they are about their performance goals for the year.
Perhaps some of you are reading this and thinking, “If I take a break, I will fall behind.” To illustrate with another sports analogy, think about our career journeys as a race car track. Regardless of when a race car breaks at the pit stop, in the end, the cars always seem to finish fairly close together. A week away with your family and friends will not result in lower performance. In fact, it will likely result in higher performance when you return recharged, much like the race car emerging from the pit with new tires and a full tank of fuel. Many of my ideas and clearest thoughts have come to me when I step away from work or when I return with a fresh perspective. We must break the stigma that taking time away from work inhibits our performance.
How to Get the Most out of Your Recovery Time
Be proactive and connect with your Performance Coach to discuss time away this summer and fall to recover from what has been a very draining year. Here are a few of my tips to get the most of your recovery time:
- Leverage your close team members working on the same engagements and offer to add your vacation time to their calendars and ask for theirs as well. This calendar hold will also serve as a nice reminder to your teammates that you are away so they can provide support and coverage, and you can offer to do the same for them. I have found this to be very effective and it only takes a few minutes, while sending a clear signal that this time is important and is to be protected.
- Partners, Managing Directors, Directors, Senior Managers and Managers – Make sure that you are encouraging time away for your teams, and a week prior to their time away, ask how you can support them during their vacation to allow them the opportunity to step back.
- Build recovery time into your daily schedule. Block focus time on your calendar, leverage reminders and reserve time to care for yourself, especially while working at home. If I am at home working on a big project, I will set an alarm on my phone or time on my daily calendar to build in a break for a short walk away from my working area. Learning to set boundaries is a very important quality for aspiring leaders.
- Give yourself grace. Do not hold yourself to standards that are not achievable and understand that we have teammates for this very reason. Raise your hand when you need to sub-out and your entire team will be rallying behind you. Remember, we are greater together as ONE DHG.
Recovery is an important part of our Energy for Life principles, which prioritizes both physical, mental and emotional recovery. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to take time to create your Energy for Life plan and work with your teams to add recovery time to the calendar.