Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
We often talk about our top takeaways from professional or educational conferences or events. And while I had plenty of those after a recent ASCE/APWA conference I attended in Orange Beach, I also took away some wonderful personal memories from getting to spend time with my family.
In my perspective, a person is who he is based on his foundation. My foundation is family. My family is very important to me. So if I’m happy with myself personally, family is a big part of that. The resulting work I do is better and more enjoyable.
Of course, sometimes work can be difficult, but for me, spending time with my family and getting away to recharge the batteries allows me to come back to work energized and ready to go.
In our family, we always talk about making memories no matter what we’re doing. I have three kids from 16 years old to 8 years old, and they are growing up faster than we would like them to. As parents, we realize it’s more important than ever to spend time together. A great new memory for us is the recent week spent at the conference and vacationing together. It’s a family friendly conference, so we usually take an extra day for relaxing, but this year we took an extra five days and had a blast! It was one of the best vacations we’ve had in years. We played, got sunburned and found sand in cracks we didn’t know we had.
Because of the conference, I had to stay somewhat connected to my laptop and cell phone every now and then. But I also wanted to be totally removed from work some of the time. Here are some tips I’ve found to help me with this.
- Turn everything off. It’s tempting to check email or messages if your laptop is on and at your fingertips, so turn it off and put it away. Do the same thing with work cell phone. Check these resources at pre-determined intervals that have been communicated with your clients and co-workers.
- Prepare properly. You’ll have more peace of mind about being away from the office if you let clients and coworkers know you will be out on vacation and that you won’t be responding to them as often. Ask someone in the office to be your backup during your absence.
- Set a time to check in. Decide on one or two times of day when you’ll check in and communicate those times to clients and coworkers. I checked messages and email at night, and if there was something I absolutely had to respond to, I took care of it then.
- Take advantage of vacation time. It’s hard for me to believe that there are people out there who have plenty of vacation days that they never use. It’s so important to take advantage of this time to help build a healthy work/family environment.
- Be ready to get back to work. Time away from the office should serve to refresh and re-energize you when it’s time to get back to work. I find that my work is better when I have these opportunities to recharge.
To me, if you want to make the time with your family count, you can’t be on your vacation with a laptop in your hand and a cell phone on your hip the entire time. Thankfully, Sain Associates encourages this mindset and also believes that while work is important, it’s crucial to be grounded spiritually and in your family. If I had been constantly connected, we wouldn’t have made nearly as many great memories.