This will be a brief post, I guess, since my shoulder hurts, my neck is stiff and I’m terribly in need for a good night’s sleep. If there were a poster child for neglecting one’s own health for work, it wouldn’t be me – but I’d probably be runner-up for the job.
About a year ago I switched jobs, and while I’m still pretty happy about it, the past 2-3 months have been just crazy. I’ve never worked so much weekends, holidays and late nights than during those months. I was afraid of idling too much in my old job, and ruining my career in the process. Stagnancy was one of my greatest fears. On the other hand, I got off work at pretty reasonable times, and almost never worked on weekends. On the downside, I never learned to say “no”. I could always work a little more, since there wasn’t – in comparison – a whole lot of work to do. The fact that I took this “everything goes” attitude with my to my new job seems to have a different effect in a work environment where there is in fact a whole lot of work, projects to complete and deadlines to meet. I’m a little bit overwhelmed.
In the beginning, I joked about the fact that the main difference between working in a bigger ad agency is the amount of email one gets per day. Today, I was absent 3 hours for a client meeting, and over 20 emails poured in. By the end of the day, I had about 50 emails to scan, read and sort into their folders after replying to about a third. Same goes for meetings: there seems to be an abundance of reasons to meet in a room and discuss stuff. Any kind of stuff. Killing time.
I begin to hate short weeks with a holiday because there’s so little time to do my work. On weekends, I’m so tired that I just lie around, doing nothing. When I told a colleague about it, she told me that this could be the first warning sign of a burnout. The term karoshi – 過労死, death from overwork – came to my mind. I certainly don’t want to burn out. Neither does dropping dead from work seem any more pleasant. I was cocooned in a safe work environment for 5 years. Now that I left it, I never learned to adapt to my new surroundings. Never learned how to take a break, nor to say “No, I can’t do that right now.”
The first problem to tackle will be the fact that I do feel guilty about turning someone down. But for my own good, I need to learn to live with disapoointing others at times. And secondly, I really need to learn how to take breaks. The little ones, like not eating lunch in front of the computer. And the big ones, like planning decent getaways from work.
After all, being creative requires a fresh mind. And in the current state I’m in, only thinking about getting through all that work load of the next day, creativity isn’t going to happen. Slowing down a little could be the best way to speed up that career I was after a year ago.