Real Time Off

As an HR manager and mom, people watch what I do for guidance at home and at work. I have to watch what I say around my 3-year-old, lest he become a foul-mouthed little angel, and I really have to watch what I do in front of staff at the wonderful organization where I work. Even if I really need to catch up, I avoid sending emails late at night in case the recipient thinks that means he needs to be working late too.  I often try to appear unavailable on days off, even if I'll just be hanging out and totally able to field a few questions.  I take long lunches on workout days and don't act overly concerned about my time away (even if I'm feeling the pressure).

Someday soon, I write a nice rant about how vacation isn't really vacation when you have little kids at home, but today I'm thinking about vacation time and all those dedicated coworkers of mine.  

Someday soon, I write a nice rant about how vacation isn't really vacation when you have little kids at home, but today I'm thinking about vacation time and all those dedicated coworkers of mine.  

Hattie Hill wrote a nice reminder about the benefit of truly taking time away when you're in a leadership position at work, timed perfectly for today.  (Today, I emailed work to say I wouldn't be in because I'm sick, but I've already spent at least 2 hours working this morning. Stop the madness.) Basically, even when not in management, our collective behavior helps to set the tone for the workplace.  If we don't take vacation seriously, it encourages others to work too hard; if we apologize for taking care of our health--including mental health--before taking care of the bottom line, that sets an unhealthy standard for the whole team.  

I'm going to keep all of that in mind this summer and, as I look forward to a lot of long weekends away this summer, I am going to try my hardest to:

  • Tell people I'm unavailable when I'm on vacation.

  • Remove my work email from my phone when I'm taking paid time off.

  • Broadcast my vacation plans to everyone I talk to at work, so they feel encouraged to take time off too.

  • Find ways to get everyone to take extra non-work time this summer--whether that's closing early on Fridays or mandating a long lunch on sunny days.


How about you, friends?  Do you truly unplug on vacation, or should we all work on this together?

Let's call it The Summer of Real Vacations.  (You know, unless you have little kids...)



I’ve been talking about replacing my office chair with an exercise ball for months. I think the talk started in February, when my team at work moved to a new floor and we were offered some pretty awful standing desks.  The standing desks they were willing to pay for didn’t work for my height, so I started thinking about another economical way to avoid schlumping in my chair all day.

After months of thinking and talking about the ball chair, I still hadn’t pulled the trigger, and the schlumping continued.   Though I usually found time to keep up with my favorite blogs and IM with Meg, I couldn't take a break from my day to go online, pick one little ball chair out, and purchase it.  Susan at Fat Free Vegan built her own treadmill desk, and I couldn't click a few buttons on Amazon.

This summer, I read a scary article about how sitting all day was shaving years off my life.  I think of myself as an active gal, but with an office job, apparently the running I do when I'm not sitting isn't likely enough.

It took me 8 months, but last week, I finally ordered my ball.

As soon as I placed the order---which took all of 3 minutes---I got to wondering why in the world it had taken me so long to finally do it.  Why do I continue to resist making those small changes that could really have an impact?  Is it laziness, busyness, or just inertia?

Where I used to schlump.

Matt Frazier writes a lot about using small changes to form good habits, but I admit that small changes don’t motivate me the way that big, sweeping life decisions get me excited.

Living a life that feels like it's in constant motion, it’s the big decisions with big payoff potential---changing jobs, having kids, giving up dairy---that seem to come easily. When I do make small adjustments, it’s only in retrospect that I’m able to recognize their long-term impact.*  Now that I sit on my ball all day, I can tell my core is getting a workout, and I can literally bounce up and down while reading my email.

Mini-Trampoline Desk is way more fun than Treadmill Desk.

Other small changes I want to make:

1. Spend 10 minutes every evening just picking up around the house.

2. Floss (I just saw my dentist last week.  Guilt Trip Central).

3. Take a break at least once during every workday (ideally to work out), no matter how busy things get.

Have any small decisions made a big impact in your life?  Are there are small changes you wish you’d made months or years ago?

* I have no patience for anything less than instant gratification.  My nickname as a child--and I am not making this up--was “Caitlin Can’t Waitlin.”  Thanks, Dad.

My ball

I even got my coworkers to bounce with me.