Q: I’ve gotten much better about prioritizing my well-being during the work day — walking my dog each morning and eating lunch away from my computer — but I’m conscious that it might make me appear less committed to my work. How do I thrive without being perceived as a slacker?
A: This is a question I hear a lot. And it’s connected to our modern society’s definition of success, which tells us that taking care of ourselves is a sign of weakness or a luxury we can’t afford. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we can thrive or we can succeed at work, but we can’t do both — and the challenges of our current WFH environment, where we can feel mired in endless days of boundaryless permawork, don’t help.
But this is a false choice. It isn’t either/or. In fact, when we take time to recharge ourselves — by getting enough sleep, moving our bodies, connecting with the people who matter most, and connecting to the things that bring us joy and purpose — we’re much better able to show up as our best, most productive, highest performing selves.
So it’s time to reframe the conversation. That’s how we can change the culture and demonstrate that prioritizing our well-being is actually a sign of ambition and commitment. Instead of apologizing or being sheepish about taking vacation or blocking time throughout the day to recharge, own it. At Thrive, we do this with our out-of-office email messages, and I’d encourage you to try it. It’s part of our culture to be open about when we’re taking time off to recharge. For example, here’s the OOO message I used over the Thanksgiving holiday:
Thanks for your message. I’m away, spending time with my family and unplugging to recharge, until Monday, November 30. If you need immediate assistance, please reach out to [my colleague at this email address].
When we take ownership, we begin to change the culture and make clear that prioritizing our own well-being is anything but slacking.