Committing to Better Balance

Posted on August 17, 2022

When People Ask If I Have a Life Outside of Work with photo of person laughing

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Kayla Barber-Perrotta, Budget & Performance Manager for the City of Brighton, CO. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

  • What I’m Listening to: Zoom by Jessi
  • What I’m Reading: Our last comprehensive plan.
  • What I’m Watching: Netflix’s The Future Of
  • What I’m Doing: Budget, budget, and more budget

I poured eggs into my purse this morning. It is the thick of our 2023/2024 budget season which results in a lot of weekend and evening work as the City’s Budget and Performance Manager. So being sleep deprived as I am, instead of taking my credit card from the lady at Starbucks and putting it in my wallet, I dumped egg bites in my side pocket while holding my credit card like an idiot. I am no expert, but I think that might be a good indicator it’s time for a mental break.

I’m a perpetual push-througher (and I’m guessing I’m not alone). If there is a project, or an entire city budget, that needs completion I will work through lunch and in the evenings to get it done. I tell myself the extra hours are temporary, and I’ll take time back when it’s done, but the reality is that there is always some other project to thrust me into yet another work cycle. Lucky for me, I have a secret weapon. If I tell people I am committed to doing something, I follow through.

So here are three ways I am committing to rebalancing.

  1. Take a walk. We are lucky enough to have a beautiful park with plenty of walking space outside City Hall.  There is even a standing invite for employees to take a 15-minute walk around the park each Thursday. I just accepted the invite for the next few weeks. If I have a conflicting meeting that comes up, I am no longer going to simply cancel and call it a loss. Instead, I will schedule a 15-minute walk for my team at a different time that week. Not only will this ensure I am taking a mental break, but my team will be too.
  2. Dedicate to disconnecting. Remote work capability is both a blessing and a curse. I love the flexibility of working from home when I need to, but it also means I often check in outside of work hours simply because I can. Next thing I know, I’ll be six emails deep and a few hours out of my Saturday. If I am honest, rarely, these items could not wait until Monday. I just hate making people wait. I have a 2-day rafting trip coming up. I’m committing to leaving my work laptop and phone at home. If there is an emergency, the key people know how to reach me.
  3. Don’t check my emails on a Saturday morning. While dedicating to disconnecting for a trip is certainly a step in the right direction, it isn’t a long-term solution. A key reason my weekends become work days is I have a bad habit of checking my phone (and thus my emails) as soon as I wake up in the morning. As such, work becomes my number one priority, and everything else is relegated to if I have time. Instead, I am committing to start my day with things that bring me joy, like gardening, a workout, or a walk with my dogs. I will not pick up the phone first thing.

Finding your balance and giving yourself a mental break isn’t just good for the soul; it’s also good for your team. We all have a wall that we hit where pushing longer and harder doesn’t just have diminishing returns, it also has negative returns. You make mistakes you otherwise wouldn’t make, you forget the small things, you are more likely to be sick and miss days, and in worst-case scenarios, you can even burn yourself out. So I’m making my commitment not just for me but for my team. Will you too?

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