Decompression Days

What I’m reading: The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck
What’s on the iPod: Unknown Caller by U2

Guess what I did yesterday? I worked, but I was in the car and somewhere else before noon. It felt heavenly to get outside, enjoy the sun, and get some errands done. It was a roof-down day, so I got a fantastic view of the blue sky and the leaves turning colors.

The former 9-to-5er in me was having a tough time letting go, but I had my cell phone and could check emails regularly. No one needed anything pressing, and I was able to kick back a bit. I shopped for our party, then treated myself to a lunch at Zoup!, a nice soup-and-sandwich joint. It doesn’t kill the diet to eat there, amen.

That my decompression day came mid-week was novel for me. Usually I try to tuck away a Friday or slip in late on a Monday. But I needed yesterday. Really. Needed. It. I relished mulling over cheese selections for the party, picking up more pumpkins (I have a TON, as you can see from the photo), and soaking in the sun on one of what may be the last really nice days left this year. I’m taking tomorrow off entirely — we’re heading to the Martin guitar factory to get his guitar fixed, and for a tour. I’d love to know how to play, but I’m more of a woodwind kind of girl. The fingers know how to operate one direction.

I’ll have no trouble relaxing tomorrow. The Away message is going up today. Anything pressing is going to have to wait. I’ve been working full stop since before September. It’s time I take care of me.

Today’s workload is small, so I’ll have time to attend my online courses and maybe even read a book again. It’s a mini-decompression amid the work day.

So how do you decompress? Do you? I know a few of you who work right through weekends without days off, and some who make their days off mid-week.

Here are some suggestions:

Knock off a few hours before your self-imposed quitting time. Highly organized (anal) people like me need to remember that 5 o’clock projects don’t have to be noticed until the next day. If I leave this desk at 3 pm, the world will not end if I don’t answer that email the same day.

Sneak away with a smart phone or tablet. It’s why coffee shops became so popular. You can relax with a cup of swill while keeping one hand ready for emergencies. Check email every hour or so. No need to be leashed to your technology.

Announce the day off. Like I’m doing with my Away message, it’s okay to say “I’ll be out of the office” and just let go entirely.

Show up late. I like this one because very few people will think anything is odd about that note not being answered before 11 am. I usually assume the recipient is wading through a ton of emails or in some meeting somewhere. If you spend the morning watching bad tv, reading a book, or taking a long, leisurely walk, who’s to say those aren’t your morning meetings?

Stop being tied to the work. In all this fretting about getting away is the clear message — I’ve become tethered to my workload. True, I’ve had a lot of quick deadlines and multiple projects, but that shouldn’t form any new, unhealthy work habits. The same goes for you. It’s work. In the end, very little of it is so deadline-sensitive that you can’t have a life first, work second.

How do you decompress or plan to decompress? Is it a process or do you just disappear?

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  • Cathy Miller October 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    You know what I wish? I wish people would shut off work mode in social media on the weekend.

    I have been contemplating a post on my personal blog about it. Does it bother you that you get an email on a weekend of someone trying to sell you something? Or a post to a FB wall related to the person's next great webinar? I want to shout, "For crying out loud, shut it down!"

    I know they can automate them, and if you want to work weekends, that's your business, but if I use social media/email on the weekend, I want it to be for personal – not work- reasons.

    Okay, mini-rant done. šŸ™‚

  • Lori October 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    LOL! That sounds like your next post, Cathy. For sure. šŸ™‚

    It does bother me. Moreover, I'm disturbed when a client asks me a question on a Saturday morning via email. I do NOT go near this computer until Monday morning, but I do get emails on my phone. I don't want to worry every blinking minute about someone else's issues!

  • Paula October 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Unless I'm working on a tight deadline, if any work e-mail arrives on the weekend I ignore it until Monday. (And lately, I haven't worked much on weekends.)

    Now and then I'll decompress mid-day by baking. It might be something as simple as a pan of brownies. Two weeks ago I spent an afternoon baking and decorating cookies for the roofers. (The siding guys might get cupcakes – it's a bigger job.)

    In the evenings I usually decompress by knitting or doing something yarny, but it's been a few weeks since I've done that. I need to get back in the zone because this year people are requesting custom-made gifts. (This may be the year of the boot cuff.) But it probably won't be until Doggie Lily is back to normal – it's hard to stop work in the middle of a row when she has a sudden need to head outside.

  • Krista October 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    After five years I haven't mastered decompressing. I tend to have really wild swings in the amount of work I have depending on the time of year. My challenge is to learn how to enjoy those slow times instead of staying glued to the computer just because.

  • Mridu Khullar Relph October 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I have trouble decompressing, but I do take the weekends off. They're simply off limits. If I choose to work, that's fine, but I don't encourage too much client interaction (or any, really).