Summertime. Growing up in a South Carolina beach town – this time of year used to be magical. Days spent by the beach, 85 degrees and sunny, and nothing to do but be a kid and enjoy it.
In “the real world” those 12-week summers and perfect days don’t exist in the way they did back then. June, July and August still carry with them the same priorities the other nine months do – but the working world doesn’t stop for summer. This year, I promised myself something different – I needed a break, I needed to unplug, I really needed a “summer.” So, that’s what I did.
It kicked off with a fantastic (and totally unplugged) trip to Europe. My fiance and I visited with friends, saw some amazing sights and had the vacation of a lifetime. Following that, we came back to the states, celebrated many family birthdays, weddings, and holidays, and my Vitamin D intake – while thankfully not at the level of my teenage years – is on the rise.
Juxtaposed to that, I’ve been able to blend this summertime experience with some incredible moments of growth in my work life. In less than two months, our account team has supported more than 15 leadership and employee engagement events, produced three videos, developed 25 podcasts, and executed against three strategic communications plans.
So, is it possible to have a summer AND do great work? Yes, it is. I always thought it was one OR the other, but what I discovered this summer is that it can be both. By regaining a sense of summer, here’s what I learned:
- Time off pays off. It had been a while since I had really unplugged. Taking over two weeks and saying sayonara to my iPhone provided the clarity of mind and space to get beyond the day-to-day and the transactions and to see the bigger picture. [Phrase credit goes to John Donahoe, CEO of eBay – check out his recent LinkedIn post about a similar topic]
- No one is going to set boundaries for me. Blue Beyond does a fantastic job of supporting and honoring time outside of work, but it’s still up to me to make it a priority for myself. More and more companies are adopting “unplugging” policies or are incentivizing PTO, but individuals – especially millennials – need to prioritize that balance as well.
- When you have a great team, magic happens. You can only do so much as an individual. Connecting with others and working as a team is the only way to get exponential results, yet this can’t happen without time for each team member to recharge and refresh. Taking two weeks off the grid created space for others on my team to learn while providing me with needed perspective (and appreciation) for how our team works together. [For more, read The Workplace Benefits of Being Out of Touch in The New York Times]
So, what’s next on the summer tour? A beach house with my family in San Clemente, California. It’s been years since we’ve all been in the same place at the same time – and while I’ll be staying connected part of the time, I’ll also be focused on putting into practice lessons learned and celebrating this new-found sense of summer.
Caitlin is an Account Lead at Blue Beyond. For more than a decade she’s partnered closely with clients to develop and lead initiatives related to employee engagement, organizational communications, culture building, and strategic leadership alignment.