All Work and No Play Makes Jane a Dull Girl

Leann Pereira Perspectives from the Field


Over the past few months, I’ve written a lot about highly structured and logical processes, such as capital management, or software systems and other types of operational functions. Now that spring is approaching and the days are longer, it’s a good time to put thinking and hard-driving deadlines aside and allow myself to indulge in the wisdom of fun and frivolity.

friends-dining-at-cafeThis actually wasn’t an entirely conscious choice on my part. Despite my best efforts to structure my work and hunker down to write reports, my intuition or some force beyond my control is guiding me outside of my office, away from my desk and towards reconnecting with friends and colleagues (often over glasses of wine). In the past two weeks, I’ve had six lunches and dinner with friends – up from my weekly average of zero (admitting this is very embarrassing). My persona of being “too busy” for the “fluffy stuff” and running “lean and mean” is getting blown, much to my utter happiness.

I’ve decided that meeting people out for lunch is a good idea and worth the time and expense – if only for the pleasure of face-to-face human connection. A tight budget and a tight deadline are not enough reasons to stay alienated in my home office, so this week I have two events planned. In fact, I should begin planning next week’s lunches/dinners right away!

The warm California sunshine has crept into my mind and heart. Three weeks ago I got peppermint foot lotion and lavender bath oil and declared Sunday nights “spa-night”. Two weeks ago I switched out my morning toast for Greek yogurt and curtailed my nightly dessert to 200 calories. Last weekend I bought a standing desk (which I completely love). Today I put a purple butterfly theme on my Gmail and asked for an extension on a report to allow myself some breathing room.

It is very easy to over-work and neglect our personal well-being while starting or running a business, especially because most of us are also doing things like taking care of families as well. Personal and professional coaches talk about how self-care is integral to long-term success. They advise us to do the basics of getting enough sleep and eating well. My academic advisor, Dr. Patricia Mitchell, believes that it is dangerous for women to overextend themselves and that over-working is not a virtue and often ends up as a liability. She and Dr. Giselle Parry wrote a small book called “Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess up Their Careers: from Being Unaware to Taking a Bold Stand”. In this short guide, Mitchell and Parry describe common pitfalls that women face in their careers. Pitfall “number 8” is “not knowing how to guard your personal time”, which includes losing control of your schedule and ultimately, your life.

This post is a reminder to take some time out for yourself and do whatever feeds your soul and makes you happy – even if it messes up your perfect plans or causes some tension between you and your co-workers or boss. If those around you can’t recognize your need for care, and even beyond that, for fun, then they may not be the kind of people you want to be around for the long haul.

When we are under constant pressure and tight deadlines, the ability to have fun is something that doesn’t come naturally. We can lose our ability to have fun. If you suspect that this may be the case for you, step back and assess your situation. Think of the last time you had a really good time. If it’s more than a two weeks, take immediate action.