A Guest Post by Craig Hudson – Managing Director of Xero NZ
It’s easy to let life get on top of you sometimes. Whether that’s due to long hours spent at the office during a busy period, looking after a sick family member or getting heavily involved in volunteering, community work or supporting your kids’ hobbies.
Self-care is often the first thing to go when life gets crazily busy. We eat lunch at our desks, or skip it altogether. We give the gym after work a miss in order to spend a couple more hours on that project. We grab some takeaways on the way home because we don’t have enough time to cook and eat a well-balanced meal. We sacrifice our weekend hobby or sport in favour of our kids’ ones.
Too many people, especially in business, take the approach that putting in the hard yards now will result in a bigger payoff down the track. But what happens all too often is that we suffer from burnout instead.
Sacrificing your well-being in order to reap the perceived rewards in the future is actually, more often than not, counter-productive to what you’re trying to achieve. Instead of getting more work done, achieving a promotion or making a major contribution to a community project, burning the candle at both ends can result in exhaustion. Your personal relationships can suffer. Your health can be seriously affected and your mental health is often affected worst of all.
So many people experience burnout. It’s time we realised that we can’t do it all, and we shouldn’t be expected to. Here are some things to keep in mind if you think you, or your staff, need a little more balance.
Take that lunch break
We get a paid lunch break every day for a reason. It’s unhealthy to look at a computer screen all day, which many of us in office jobs do daily. Each day, take the opportunity to switch off even just for half an hour. Give your eyes a break from the glare of the screen, and your brain a break from your tasks. Even better, take a walk around the block, run a couple of errands, catch up with colleagues in the lunch room, or meet a friend for coffee to recharge. If you’re a manager, pay attention to which of your team members routinely eat at their desk and encourage them to switch off at lunchtime.
While it’s important to physically take a break from your desk, you should also use this opportunity to fuel your body well. Paying attention to what you’re putting into your body – whether that’s limiting your caffeine intake, bringing a healthy lunch from home or cooking dinner instead of grabbing takeaways can make a real difference to your wellbeing. At Xero, all our staff can grab a piece of fruit or two from the kitchen at any time. It’s small provisions like this that can really encourage healthier eating habits at work and in turn, lead to improved focus and long-term health benefits for your staff.
Learn to say no
It’s so important to take time out for ourselves – both at work and at home. If your workload tends to pile up, leaving you to spend a couple of hours at the office after everyone else has left, take a look at what you’re taking on that you shouldn’t be. It’s okay to say no if your colleagues are asking too much or taking advantage of you. If your workload is becoming unmanageable, take an objective look at your role and reflect on if processes need improvement or if there are some that you need to stop doing all together – this is sometimes the hardest thing of all to do.
Have a life outside of work
For a lot of people, what they do for work is one of the least interesting things about them. At Xero, we have semi-professional athletes, musicians, volunteers, small business owners, dancers and talented artists to name just a few talents. We encourage all our staff to bring their full selves to work, and pursue their passions. Offering flexible working conditions so our staff can ‘fill their cup’ goes a long way to helping them practice self-care. So, if you’re an athlete – go for that run at lunchtime or adjust your work hours so you can make it to your evening game. It’s all about balance.
Take holidays (and leave your work phone at home)
We’re entitled to four weeks’ leave each year, and we should aim to use this time off every year. Taking time out to switch off and spend quality time with friends and family is the absolute best way to recharge and, in turn, do your best work while you’re at the office. I spoke about the importance of completely switching off while on holiday in a previous post. You’re not truly switching off and relaxing if you’re constantly checking your emails or getting calls from the office. Your workplace should be equipped to operate in your absence, even if you are in a management position or deemed to be irreplaceable. Ensure you’ve handed your duties over to someone capable and enjoy a relaxing, stress-free break from work – even if you’re just taking a bit of time off to do some work around the house.
This blog originally featured as an article on Craig’s Linkedin profile and is republished here with full permission.
You can spend time with Craig Hudson and hear discover his full story of resilience, self-discovery and how he’s helping others inside and outside of Xero with their mental health at The Thriving Workplace Event in Sydney, 27 & 28 August 2019. Secure your place now!