Working Too Much or Not Enough? [en]

[fr] J'ai souvent du mal à savoir si je travaille trop ou pas assez. Mon entourage me donne les deux retours.

I’m very bad at evaluating how much I work. Not in the sense that I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent in the office or on a given project (I know how to look at the clock and add up, even if I don’t usually bill for my time) — but more as in I don’t really know if I’m slacking or “working hard”.

There are days where I feel that I have been working hard for weeks or months. But then there are others where I look at my lifestyle and find it pretty relaxed, overall.

People around me also have differing opinions: sometimes I get the feedback that I should take my work more seriously (“work harder!”) and sometimes — more often, I have to admit — I get amazement or admiration for the amount of things I’m doing.

I guess this ambivalence in my auto-evaluation reflects an ambivalence in my attitude towards work. Part of me has a heavy workaholic streak (I can get “lost” in work easily, and tend to be a little obsessive and perfectionist, which results in difficulty stopping once I get started) but another part of me strongly resists working a lot and wants to have free time and a leisurely pace of life (that was already the case when I was in school: good enough grades, but never really liked studying too hard).

And in the end, what is working “enough”? I think there are cultural standards here, and that “working hard” in the US (for example) is not exactly the same thing as “working hard” here in Europe.


A Year of Chalet Mini-Holidays [en]

[fr] Ça fait une année que je monte régulièrement au chalet pour des mini-vacances (week-ends prolongés). Bon rythme!

A bit over a year ago, I badly needed a break (after Going Solo). One of my friends was deep in her thesis and needed one too, so we went up to my chalet for five days and walked around in the mountains.

I remembered (or rediscovered) how much I loved walking and being in the mountains. Before I headed back to Lausanne, I had booked subsequent “chalet breathers” for the next few months.

Over the last year, I’ve tried to go up to the chalet every 6 weeks or so. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more — but that’s what I aim for. I figured that as my financial situation does not really allow me take “real” holidays (2-3 weeks off somewhere) I was going to grant myself regular extended week-ends: mini-holidays.

It has worked really well.

I get breaks, and I have noticed how important it is to be able to hit the pause button once in a while, just think about stuff (personal or professional) but without actually having any work to do, read books, or write. Or just spend time talking with people.

It’s like with sports, really. If you exercise regularly, your body needs a break now and again. For exemple, at a time when I was at university, I would do judo 4-5 times a week. At some point, I realised that my body needed a holiday. And when I came back, I realized that I was refreshed and had actually made progress while I wasn’t training!

The brain needs “off” time to process all the activity and things learned during the “on” time — whether it’s physical or intellectual.