Vacations are great. I highly recommend them. I just got back last night from a week in sunny southern California with my family doing Disneyland and Seaworld. Not only do vacations afford time away from the daily grind of work life that we all live in, but even more importantly for me, time to connect with my wife and kids. I've been working at Microsoft for 14 years this summer, and going on a week's vacation is always the same- you work like a dog the week before to get ready to go (typically staying up past midnight the night before trying to complete the 17 items you have to wrap up in order to feel good to go), are exhausted the first day due to lack of sleep, then have a great time, then come back to 400+ emails where it takes you a week or so to recover. I'm sure it's the same where you work. I used to think Microsoft folks worked harder than the rest of humanity out there. Then I took a Dale Carnegie Course a couple years ago where everyone came from different backgrounds and different industries. Funny thing...everyone had similar issues to deal with...too much to do, not enough time, same people/relationship issues. So you and I, we struggle with the same issues and the same overloading email inbox. But back to the original storyline of vacations. Even though there's the added burden of leaving and re-entry (this post is one way I'm easing the transition back into work life), I wouldn't give it up for nuthin'. Seeing my girls see Disneyland for the first time, and the magic there. Hanging out at the hotel pool every afternoon. Having fun, connecting as a family. Priceless. And this vacation I didn't even take my laptop! (wouldn't have had time even if I did). Sometimes you got to take the fingers off the keyboard, shut down, and go spend time with your loved ones. It's worth it in the end. In the grand scheme of things, relationships is what makes life go round. Now I know that doesn't give me license to quit my job and hang out with the kids 24x7. And I tire of the age old adage "nobody, in their last moments on this earth, ever wished they spent more hours at the office", because while I believe it's true, you still have to excel at what you do (at least in my book), and give your best, which requires hours and hard work. Thus you have the great balancing act of life, the Work/Life balance. Here at Microsoft they even have a team of folks who help employees try to maintain the balance, or at least they used to. In the end, we all choose our own work/life balance with the choices we make. I recently heard a speaker, an ex-IBM exec who now preaches doing what you love because she burnt out on the corporate ladder with a busted family in her wake, say that everyone has to decide for themselves what "having it all" means. I like that. What does "having it all" mean to me? What does it mean to you? Rarely can we have our cake and eat it too. Below is a photo of folks who are really important to me. We had a great week together. Vacations rock.
Now you'll be happy to know that all was not lost in productivity land last week. I read a good chunk of the book "Blog" by Hugh Hewitt, when our flight was delayed last night in San Diego. Great read on the history of the blogosphere. I'd recommend checking it out.
I hope you all get a chance this summer to spend some time away from the office with those you love. Time well spent. Now back to work for me.