Growing up, my grandparents owned a service station and quick mart in the little town of Sandpoint. My grandfather would work long hours ensuring the family business was successful and able to not only provide for he and my grandmother but also my Dad and a handful of other employees. My Dad worked hard to provide for us and more often than not took on extra jobs plowing snow, delivering gas and mowing lawns. Some might think my Dad did this because he couldn’t support his family of 4 on a mechanics salary alone, but I know he did this because he watched his parents do the exact same thing.
Fast forward 19 years and I get my first “real” job at Coldwater Creek. I thrived on working long hours in customer service and learning several different aspects of the company. I spent a a few years in customer service and was always one of the first people to work extra hours, take on special projects and lend a hand whenever/wherever I was needed. I then moved onto the fast-paced eCommerce department where again I spent long hours testing the website, creating promotion codes, being the customer service liason and eventually sending 5 million+ promotional emails a day. I honestly can’t remember how many hours a day I worked and it didn’t matter. I was contributing to the success of a Fortune 500 company and I felt like a millon bucks.
And then, it happened…Coldwater Creek went bankrupt. For the first time in 18 years, I needed to find a new job. Luckily, it didn’t take me long and I found a great position at JEBCommerce.
I’m not going to lie, I was suddenly lost. I went from being on-call and getting urgent phone calls and emails at all hours of the day and night (which left me emotionally and mentally exhausted). I had no time to spend with my family, friends, let alone on myself. When I went to bed at night, the ringtone on my phone had to be set to what I will call “Wake the Dead” because I was the first line of defense should an email problem arise. Now, I’m only expected to work 8 hours a day – I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I put in an 8-hour day.
After starting at JEBCommerce, I had no idea what to do with myself, so I worked from home on my laptop. I had to literally be told to stop working after hours and on the weekends. And it took a ridiculously long time for me to not feel guilty about not working. I’m now able to spend time with my family, sleep through pretty much any noise my phone makes and even take a little time for myself once in awhile.
Do you see a pattern? I didn’t at first, but after some soul searching and reflection on my life, I began to realize I was unconsciously conditioned from a very young age. My Dad watched his father work long and hard to become successful and I watched my Dad do the exact same thing! It would be hard for anyone to have these two examples and not follow in their footsteps. It had been engrained in me that in order to be successful one had to put in insanely long hours.
It wasn’t until I came to JEBCommerce that anyone genuinely cared about the amount of hours I put in at work and how much time I was spending away from my family. Its been difficult, but I’ve come to accept that most days its impossible to get everything done on my to-do list and I don’t need to stay at work late or work late from home in order to get everything crossed off my list. Prioritizing my to-do list and asking for extra help when I need it has been key in allowing me to leave work at the end of the day and feel good about what I have accomplished. The tasks that are uncompleted at the end of the day are simply added to the next day and instead of worrying about what I didn’t get done, I begin to look forward to planning out the next day and prioritizing what needs to get done first.
Obtaining a work/life balance is key to not only you but also the company that employs you. If you are constantly emotionally and mentally drained all the time, you have nothing left to give to yourself let alone the company and EVERY aspect of your life begins to suffer. In closing, I feel like the 2 most beneficial things I’ve learned since joining the JEBCommerce team would be:
I’ve learned to ask myself = “Does this REALLY have to be finished before I go home or am I placing an unrealistic expectation on myself? (9 out of 10 times, the answer is no, this can wait until tomorrow).
Take time for yourself and allow your “batteries” to recharge. You will come back to work with a much different outlook/attitude. Without time away, small things quickly become big things in your head.
While I am certain that I haven’t fully mastered this skill, I am committed to learning from my experience and growing more and more each day.