My dad worked for the McDonald’s Corporation for over thirty years. He was vice president of national franchising the final part of his career. If you know anything about McDonald’s, then you know what a big job that was.
Despite the responsibility he had for such a large organization, he was always home for every holiday. I can’t recall him ever going to the office on a weekend. If he made a work call in the evenings or on a weekend, it was rare. When he did work at home, it was always late in the evening, well after kids were in bed.
My dad has been retired for a decade, so he mostly worked in the era before the constant presence of email and the web in our lives – but he always made a point to have fantastic work-life balance. He didn’t talk about it much – he just did it.
It’s Thanksgiving week here in the States and a time when Americans take a day off work to give thanks. Many of us give lip service to the importance of family and friends this time of the year. Yet, our actions don't always line up with our words.
Despite good intentions, a lot of us are tied to the workplace via our smart devices on holidays, weekends, and even in bed. The Wall Street Journal published a story last week looking at all the ways to work from your mattress. Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor, argues in her recent book Alone Together that we expect more from technology and less from each other.
While I’m quite conscious of the fact that not everyone gets holidays off work, most readers of this article have jobs where we get regular time off each week and for holidays. The problem is that a lot of us never really get away.
This Thanksgiving, try the disappearing act.
Bonni and I have been on a “technology diet” from the Internet at least 24 hours a week for the last month or so. We turn off computers, phones, and iPads and spend time fully enjoying Luke and each other. Through this commitment, we've both been reminded that we connect online a lot. More often this is out of habit, rather than it adding value to our lives.
Rarely do most of us take the time to really disconnect. Yet, every time I coach someone to do this, they want to make it a regular habit. Unlike emails, texts, and phone calls, time for self-care and family rarely commands the same urgency…but it is often more important in the long-run. I’m still reaping the rewards of my dad’s time investment in my life.
Bonni and I plan to continue our technology diet this weekend. What commitment will you make to disappear from work and put family, friends, and yourself first? Share your answer with our community below.