Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Type "A" Unplugged [How I Balance Life]


We all know the old adages of Type A personalities: Work Hard; Play Harder. Workaholic. Perfectionist. Overachiever. 

But the truth is, even Type A personalities need to unplug once in a while. 

I had a large realization a few Fridays ago, sitting on a restaurant patio enjoying the gorgeous weather with my husband and a best friend: I am HUGELY protective over my personal time. 

Annoyed. Who calls "office" employees at 8:30pm on a Friday? 
While sitting on the patio, enjoying summer and discussing life, my cell phone rang with a local number I did not recognize. I simply never answer if I don't know who is calling. They can leave a message; it weeds out solicitors quickly. 

That, however, was not the case. There was a voicemail message from the head of an association our company belongs to, ranting at me because she thought one of our employees didn't show up to an event and that I must get back with her immediately. 

Annoyance turns to frustration. First, ask yourself if this "emergency" is really an emergency? 
The event the CEO was ranting about ended at 9:00pm. Even if one of our employees didn't show, by 8:30pm, the event was winding down, and "emergency" wouldn't even begin to enter my vocabulary. But, being a bit Type A, I felt I needed to follow up. 

Frustration transfers to raging mad. Personal is personal. 
To help me unplug and shut down, I actually keep two cell phones - a personal and a work. Not even our receptionist has my personal number for "emergencies". This particular association head had my work contact information. We had actually just talked that week about the best way to contact me. But, she had called me on my personal cell phone number. 

Because I came straight from work, I had my work cell with me. I slid my work cell out and looked. No email from this CEO. No missed phone call. 

My blood started to boil as I realized that not only had the voicemail interrupted some very important, relaxing and personal time, but she had foregone the proper communication channels assuming [correctly] I would not be accessible there at 8:30pm on a Friday evening. She also would have had to work at finding my personal cell phone number. It is not listed at work, nor listed on any of my public profiles. 

Unplugging is Okay 
That evening, after my dinner and personal time, [and once I had calmed down], I sent the CEO a professional yet firm email explaining the ways I could be contacted, to please not use my personal cell phone, and that I would not be available over the weekend. 

Yes, I will admit, I failed that night at unplugging. I still allowed work to interrupt my personal time. 

But that night helped me realize how protective I am over my personal time. If I do not set hard boundaries for myself - and others, I naturally work 24/7. I have been teased in the past for carrying two phones, but I realize that is my best defense against myself. 

That night also helped reinforce my beliefs when working with others and being mindful of their personal time. Because I am protective over my down time, I am of others’ time as well. Most urgent matters aren’t actually emergencies. Often, there is someone else on duty who could take care of the issue. And, more times than not, it can wait until tomorrow. Vacations are sacred, so unless a building is burning down, I don’t contact people when I know they are on vacation. 

It’s an on-going battle to unplug, but I work at giving myself down time everyday. 

How do you unplug your Type A persona?

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