Summer is here. My son is spending every free moment on his boat at the lake. My daughter is a counselor at a summer camp in Maine for two months. My retired next door neighbor has challenged himself to play a round of golf at every course within a 100-mile radius of our houses. And I’m sitting here in my office on an absolutely beautiful morning thinking, “What was it that was so important that I had to be in here so early this morning?”
In an industry that has no start time or designated “time off,” it’s pretty easy to just get in the work groove and never get out of it. And with the economy and our industry still working through issues, the tendency is to put even more effort into our work to ensure success. But I think there is such a thing as working too hard; pushing ourselves beyond the point of maximum productivity.
With summer here, it seems like a good time to take a look at this workaholic cycle we tend to get into. I recently heard a good speaker talk on the topic of taking “time off.” He made some good points, and I know he won’t mind if I share this with you. Here are three things you can do to help make the most of your summer:
- Resist the Temptation to Keep Working. I just mentioned how easy it is in this industry to get into the work mode and never step out of it. You are onsite for a show that installs over a weekend, runs through midweek and dismantles over the following weekend. You return home Sunday evening and are in the office the following morning for a full week of work. And then the process repeats itself.
So how long has it been since you took a few days off? What’s happened around you – with your family and friends – that you’ve missed? If you took a few hours off on a weekday, or escaped for a day or two between shows, would your world cease to exist? Don’t kid yourself. Probably not.
- Learn How to Refresh Yourself. Think about the activities that nourish your soul, and make you laugh. Do something with your kids (what were their names again?). Listen to some good music. Read a good book. Get back into that hobby that you used to really enjoy. Spend some time with friends. Whether it’s a few hours or a few days, getting out of the work mode for a little while will be refreshing. My guess is that you’ll be better able to tackle the tough stuff in your business after you’ve had a break and have recharged your batteries.
- Reflect on what has Already Been Done in your Life. Be thankful for those who helped you get where you are. Learn to celebrate your small successes and savor the moment. It’s not always about huge accomplishments, but rather the small things that create enjoyment. Don’t wait for perfection – celebrate when you least feel like it – when things are tough. It will infuse your soul.
You know, all this stuff sounds good. But putting it into practice is a different story. I wish I could say that I do all of this. Balancing priorities is tough. But I have learned (much to my surprise) that I can escape an hour or two early during a weekday to enjoy my family or my hobbies without the business crashing down around me. I can take a Sunday and do absolutely nothing related to work. And I have even trained myself to mentally separate from work when I have an hour or two to kill while on the road.
Recently, I have started driving to shows within six hours of St. Louis. The time in the car to listen to books on tape, motivational speakers or good music is a nice escape. And I don’t get inspected, searched, frisked, poked and prodded.
It really does take a commitment to breaking the workaholic habits. But the rewards will be great – a better perspective on life, stronger relationships with family and friends, and more energy when you do focus on work!
Enjoy your summer! See you on the show floor!
Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry over 30 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive. He can be reached at email@example.com.