In a recent LinkedIn Pulse series, professionals share what they’d do differently — and keep the same – if they knew at 22 years old what they know now. Arianna Huffington claims she wish she’d known that there is enough time in your life for everything important. “You will make the time for the things that matter, and it will not make you a bad person. It will actually make you a better person.”
According to a recent study in the Harvard Business review (cited here), and according to any person living and breathing today, “the problem in America is the perception that those who stay longer and work longer hours are better workers, but that’s not actually true… In the US, it’s a common expectation that workers be committed to their job above all else. It’s called the ‘ideal worker image,’ and whether they admit it or not, companies reward people who embrace it.”
Fortunately, while those perceptions we had at 22 may still be around, we have become a lot smarter at how to manage them and save our sanity. While the perception may be a constant, there is a way to work around it – a strategy called “passing” where employees give the perception to upper management that they were working just as many hours as those actually doing the 80 hour work week while actually creating some work/life balance for themselves. By maneuvering within the company (working from home, grouping meetings by location) rather than by formally requesting time off, employees are secretly creating their own, healthy stealth culture. The HBP study even shows that the employees who “passed” had performance ratings that were just as high as those that played the working later game, and were promoted just as, if not more quickly.
Or as Arianna puts it: “Our culture is obsessed with time. It is our personal deficit crisis. We always think we’re saving time, and yet we feel like we never have enough of it. In order to manage time — or what we delude ourselves into thinking of as managing time — we rigidly schedule ourselves, rushing from meeting to meeting, event to event, constantly trying to save a bit of time here, a bit there. We download apps for productivity and eagerly click on articles with time-saving life hacks. We try to shave a few seconds off our daily routine, in hopes that we can create enough space to schedule yet another meeting or appointment that will help us climb the ladder of success. Like airlines, we routinely overbook ourselves, fearful of any unused capacity, confident that we can fit everything in. We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on something fabulous, important, special, or career advancing. But there are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep all that time we “save.” It’s actually a very costly way to live. It’s just as important to take breaks, and yes, maybe even schedule them if need be. Enjoyment; you will never look back and say you should’ve been busier as long as you were enjoying yourself.”
Our CEO, Pat Mastandrea, notes that “it’s all about scheduling. If you don’t lock your free time into the schedule, work will always take over. At the beginning of every year, I sit down with my calendar and block time for my personal priorities. I schedule time to visit my mom in Pittsburgh once a month, and golfing is important to me, so I schedule a golf school every year. Rather than mapping these trips out haphazardly, this brings discipline to my free time. If work comes up, you don’t pre-empt your scheduled personal time, you relocate it as you would a business trip or meeting. It’s like that old adage… If you get a jar and fill it with rocks, you can fill in the gaps with sand. But if you put sand in first, there’s no room for rocks.”