About an hour ago, I got an email from Maria, my immediate supervisor at work and my role model for leadership during difficult times. With her permission, I’m sharing what she wrote with all of you:
“Good morning, Amanda. I see from the emails you’ve sent that you worked most of the day yesterday and have already started working today. I know that we’re behind the eight ball on a lot of things, and I appreciate all that you’re doing, but I’m concerned that you’re pushing yourself too hard. I’d like you to take the rest of the morning (at least) to rest and recharge. Read a book, watch a movie, do some baking, call your sister, take a walk…do anything besides work. Then, later today, sit down and really think through what we need to accomplish in the next week, what can be delayed or approached in a lower gear, and how I can support you in finding the balance. Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be at your best as an employee, leader, family member or friend.”
As an empathetic, caring, and committed manager, Maria knows me well and knew exactly what I needed to hear today. I was especially struck by the last line, because right now so many people are consumed with the feeling that they need to devote all of their energy to being the very best parents, employees, friends, relatives, and so on. However, time spent paying attention to our physical and emotional health pays dividends in making the time spent on other things much more effective. I know that when I’m feeling burnt out, I might spend an hour on something that on another day might take twenty minutes, because I didn’t think I could afford to take a break, even though the break would undoubtedly have saved me time in the long run. (Here’s more about why taking time out benefits your work and productivity.)
I know that this is a particularly difficult time for parents, and it’s easy to think you need to devote every spare minute to your family. My sisters have recently expressed that while they’re very focused on parenting, they don’t feel like they’re always doing a great job. This makes sense, because effective parenting also requires taking care of yourself, so you have the energy needed to take care of others. (More on that here.)
I’m taking Maria’s advice today, and I hope you will, too. Enjoy your day.