You’re not as important as you think you are. Disconnected downtime is crucial.

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I just got back from two weeks at the beach. It was wonderful although my wife warned me that my Facebook friends were probably getting tired all of the pictures I posted showing the crabs I caught that were waiting to become dinner that night. I was very intention about ‘being on vacation’ the first week. For me that means avoiding real work at almost all costs. No email. I need to do that once or twice a year. I kept up the second week but would be lying if I said I worked a normal schedule. I made sure to enjoy time with family and friends and I took some time for myself. Like I said; it was great.

What does your downtime look like?

Most of us take vacation. We’ve read countless articles telling us how important it is. We all know that it’s not great to be tied to our devices 24X7 at night and on the weekends. We know it. So I won’t try to convince you. But most people simply don’t disconnect often enough and some people never seem to do it.

What keeps people from disconnecting?

 I suppose there are lots of reasons. I saw a  tweet from @BuckWoody shortly after I came back from vacation that shared this quote:

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.” – Bertrand Russell

There’s a lot of truth to that sentiment. You work isn’t as important as you sometimes want to think and your career should never become your identity.

What happens if you’re a manager and you have key people that really and truly can’t be disconnected on a regular basis because they are that important? You’re probably a bad manager and not doing your job well. What happens if you have a job that simple doesn’t allow you to ever be disconnected. Find a new job. Life’s too short. Years or decades might go by before you regret the time you wasted but eventually you’ll realize living your life that way sucked and you’ll regret it.

What does your down time look like? How important do you think your work is?

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jul 21, 2012
First of all, Brian, the pictures of crabs that you posted on Facebook were not tiresome in the least! They were quite artsy. :) Let me share several thoughts on this important topic: 1. There is a difference between being connected to work and being connected for social interaction or play. Browsing pictures of crabs posted by friends is leisure time rather than a source of stress. We may argue about the amount of time which is healthy to spend online for any reason, but work and non-work online time are distinctly different in their impact on our stress level and happiness. For example, I look at your crabs and then I can go and set up log shipping for 50 databases without feeling much dread. 2. What if some of my work is indistinguishable from play? Granted, there are a lot of boring tasks in DBA's life, but some projects are like puzzles and games. I would probably do them even if I wasn't paid - just for the fun of it. Although, I'm not telling my clients which tasks I would do for free! :) 3. I agree that we need to go offline sometimes. However, it may be even more important to just make work more enjoyable, because it reduces the stress and burnout and the need to go offline to avoid depression and anger. We should ideally find a job that we like, not for the feeling of self-importance, but for the joy of doing it. Bring humor, games, and creativity into the workplace (in a professional manner, of course) and the need to go offline diminishes. I know that you already do that yourself :) Thank you for addressing this topic and please continue posting pictures of your dinner as a service to the public! P.S. I consider writing this comment my downtime, even though I was online. :)

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