I’ve been hitting the workload hard for the last six or so months, with most weekdays starting around 5 and ending around 11, with breaks thrown in the mix for sanity’s sake, weekends littered with an-hour-here-4-hours-there. Most of us in IT and especially those involved in change, projects, management, or any mix of the above know how it goes. The work piles up, we give a little extra to power through and get the work done.

With a vacation coming up I promised my awesome wife that I’d put work away for the week and unplug, devoting my attention wholly to my family. And I stuck to my word. I found an awesome setting in the iphone to help me protect myself from the temptation of checking email and thinking about work.

I switched the EMAIL toggle to OFF and enjoyed instant peace. I was fortunate. I had a great team and a great colleague who was able to run my division in my stead.

The point of this post, though, is that it wasn’t *until* I unplugged that I realized how much of my attention had been devoted to work, and how little had been focused on anything else. I didn’t have to think about that for long to realize it was out of sync with my personal priorities, and it didn’t take much analysis for me to realize I had created the problem myself by poorly managing my time.

The internal conversation went something like this:

Ok self… so let’s get this straight. We work a lot, right?
Right.

Why do we work a lot?
We have to make sure everything gets done.

Why can’t we do that during the day?
Because we’re distracted from the things we ought to do.

So when we’re distracted during the day and we have to make up the work on our own time, it sounds like we’re losing both at work and at home?
Yes, that sounds about right.

So when we’re focused on what we ought to do, we don’t have to work as much, and we get our family time back?
Right.

Let’s do that, okay?
Okay, that sounds like a great idea.

Wow. That was simple.

It really was that simple. I tried it for a week and — brace yourselves — it worked. One week in life is great. Let’s see how the rest of the year goes.

If this continues to work I’m excited to see what rewards I can reap by applying this type of discipline in other aspects of work and life.

In shifting my focus from my activity to my purpose I’ve gained that clarity, and as a result have been vastly more effective at work, and in the process regained my family time and enjoyed better quality of life.

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