“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
In a sentence, that sums up the last week for me. As I’ve said before, I work in online learning, and at the moment I am being kept extraordinarily busy. Too much so for my liking, in actual fact.
Despite my attempts at sounding wise on the topic of work-life balance, I’ve hardly been following my own advice lately, and it’s really wearing me down. Not so much emotionally, but definitely physically and psychologically. I’m working too fast, too hard, and for too long, and am rapidly running out of steam.
In saying this out loud, I realise that the effort stems as much from ego and pride as it does from professional pressure. Perish the thought I’d admit I can’t handle the chaos that’s going on around me, and that it might just be too much for me. That I might need help.
Two days ago I wrote about the risk of overwork becoming a badge of pride, and here I am guilty of the same sin. I wrote of how important it is to look out for colleagues, and to gently express your concerns when you feel they are falling into an unhealthy spiral of longer and longer hours. It’s perhaps most important of all to be willing to see the same faults and risks in yourself, and up until today I didn’t recognise that.
So today, looking ahead, I intend to leave my desk during lunch, spend some time with my family, laugh, breathe and recharge before returning for the second half of my workday. It’s good for my mental health, my peace of mind, and I believe for my physical health as well. It makes me more productive in my work too. But I think perhaps most important of all, pulling back for a breath and some sun helps maintain a balanced perspective about what truly matters in life.