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Christmas: a time for twinkling lights, sugar-laden joy, and... spreadsheets?

If this describes your current reality, my friend, know that you are not alone.



As Christmas looms just days away, I find myself, rather unsurprisingly, tethered to my computer. The click-clack of the keyboard under my fingers marked the completion of yet another report, a submission against the relentless ticking of the clock. I remember, yesterday's dawn saw me awake at 4:00 a.m., the silent darkness of early morning my sole companion as I raced against another deadline. It has become a bittersweet dance – the thrill of the chase juxtaposed with the nagging doubt: "Do I love working, or have I simply forgotten how to stop?"

 

In this festive season, I had envisaged crafting something light-hearted, perhaps sharing thoughts on how to relax and embrace the holiday cheer. Yet, upon reflection, a fundamental question troubles me: do I truly grasp the essence of unwinding? My life seems to blend continuously with my professional endeavours, prompting me to wonder if I find genuine pleasure in this ceaseless work or if I am simply caught in its constant stream.

 

Spending more hours at my workstation than anywhere else, I often ponder whether I relish this or if I am merely accustomed to the rhythm. The distinction between enjoyment and routine blurs. Frequently, I am utterly worn out, but I have never completely run on empty, which fuels my ongoing perseverance.

 

The crisp, early mornings often find me hunched over my desk, the pale glow of my screen casting long shadows, while emails and reports summon my attention. Outside, the world lies in tranquil silence, families nestled in the warmth of their homes, and there I sit, captivated by the artificial light, the festive spirit a mere distant echo.

 

I recall, decorating the Christmas tree was once a family highlight when the children were younger. They would eagerly inquire, “Maman, when are we decorating the tree?” Now, as they have grown older, their excitement for Christmas has waned, leaving the task to my husband and me. We had postponed this for more than a week, but yesterday, we could delay it no longer. My husband retrieved the decorations from storage. He repeatedly called for my assistance, and I kept responding, “Let me finish this report and submit it; then I will join you.” Thankfully, we learned the importance of storing lights neatly years ago, sparing us the hassle of untangling metres of lights. Our youngest son lent a hand briefly before vanishing. My husband, holding our family traditions in high regard, completed the task himself. As you can see, he did a commendable job.

 

My friends and family often remind me about the risks of burnout, a reality I have personally experienced in my consulting career. The relentless rush of deadlines often blurs the distinction between day and night, and weekends slip by unnoticed. As the boundaries between work and rest fade, I find myself constantly tired yet persistently pushing forward. It is in these moments, when the lines between professional commitment and personal well-being blur, that the warnings of my friends and family resonate the loudest. Their voices become a reminder of the need for balance, a call to step back and re-evaluate the pace at which I am living my life. It is a reminder that even in the midst of professional success, one must not lose sight of the importance of rest and recuperation.

 

It is ironic, is it not? Throughout my career, I have advocated for the importance of self-care and work-life balance. I have assisted organisations in creating policies that support flexible working hours, discourage overtime, prohibit weekend work, and encourage remote working, even before the pandemic struck. In doing so, I have been arming others with the strategies necessary to avoid the very pitfalls I frequently encounter. Yet, here I am, known as the 'queen of deadlines', dispensing advice from a desk littered with empty coffee mugs. How I wish I could send a Christmas Eve message back to my younger, tirelessly hard-working self – perhaps a message hidden inside a gingerbread cookie, imbued with the wisdom I have only recently come to appreciate. I have taught others the value of self-love and care, yet, in a twist of irony, I often overlooked these lessons in my own life. If I had the means to journey back in time, I would eagerly share the insights I now possess with my younger self.

 

Establishing boundaries, especially when your home doubles as your office, is essential to maintain a healthy balance between professional and personal life. In spite of knowing this, I often catch myself immersed in work emails during periods meant for relaxation or family time, blurring the lines between work and leisure.

 

Reflecting on this, I recognise the critical importance of these boundaries. They are crucial not only for ensuring productivity but also for protecting mental and emotional well-being. It is a realisation that underscores the value of downtime, a concept often overlooked in the hustle of work.

 

If I were to offer a piece of advice to my younger self, it would be to value the quiet moments of life. Embracing the tranquillity of doing nothing can be surprisingly rejuvenating. It is essential to appreciate that sometimes, the most productive action is to pause and simply exist in the moment. Allowing oneself the freedom to rest and recharge is not an indulgence but a necessity for sustained personal and professional well-being.

 

As Christmas draws near, I am consciously stepping away from the screen to soak in the laughter and love that fills my home. This is a modest step towards a larger ambition – achieving a harmonious balance between work and life, where each complements rather than overshadows the other. I encourage you, my readers, to embark on this journey of rebalancing – to seek that fine equilibrium where work enhances life, and life in return, infuses joy into work.

 

Here is your holiday gift from a seasoned warrior of the grind:

 

  1. Reclaim your calendar:  Deadlines can feel like insistent intruders, relentlessly claiming your minutes and hours. However, it is crucial to remember that you are in control. Organise your holidays with the same precision as your meetings – set aside time for eggnog-infused laughter, invigorating walks in the crisp air, and leisurely afternoons indulging in festive movies. Prioritise personal time with the same regard you would a professional commitment.

  2. Embrace the "off" switch: While technology might be our constant companion, it need not dominate every moment. Establish limits – turn off the computer, mute notifications, and create a haven free from the intrusion of emails. Rediscover the enchantment of technology-free evenings, where the only glowing screens are those of crackling fireplaces, and the only pressing deadlines are those for winding down at night.

  3. Connect with your "why": Recall the reasons that motivated you to embark on your career path. Was it the thrill of achievement, the satisfaction of completing tasks, or the aspiration to create something impactful? Reconnect with that initial drive, that fundamental reason that propelled your early starts and late finishes. Let this original passion guide you towards work that invigorates, rather than depletes, your energy.

 

Concluding Reflections from NITE TANZARN IntellectNest

This holiday season, let us embrace the spirit of digital detox, shedding the relentless demand to be 'always on'. Exchange your spreadsheet ballet shoes for a pair of comfortable slippers, and swap your power lunch for a leisurely picnic beneath the glistening Christmas lights. Remember, rest is not merely a reward – it is the vital essence that fuels our creativity, sharpens our concentration, and enriches our roles as friends, colleagues, and indeed, as festive elves.

 

I urge you, dear reader, to fully embrace this period of downtime. Let the festive season be a reminder that life is more than a series of deadlines and tasks. It is about slowing down, appreciating each moment, and rediscovering the joy of simply being present – away from the glow of screens and the buzz of notifications.

 

At NITE TANZARN IntellectNest, we wish you a Merry Christmas filled with the joys of a true digital detox. May your holidays overflow with more laughter than emails, more eggnog than spreadsheets, and above all, the delightful serenity of unplugged, absolute relaxation. Cheers!

 

 

About the Author

Nite Tanzarn, renowned for her expertise in sustainable transport, is a staunch advocate for gender equality and actively combats gender-based violence. Her work, pivotal in integrating transport with socio-economic development, focuses on developing inclusive systems that cater to women’s unique challenges. Nite's relentless pursuit of gender-responsive policies significantly influences societal issues, especially in developing regions. As a seasoned speaker and author, she draws upon her rich experience in sustainable transport and her passionate commitment to reducing gender disparities. Her expertise extends to leadership development and advocacy for women's rights in the professional sphere, making her a key influencer in both academic research and policy development. Nite's collaborative efforts with various organisations strive to promote diversity and inclusivity in leadership roles, driving impactful change.

 

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18 Comments


Guest
Dec 28, 2023

An incredible written piece

Gracias 🙏🏽

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Replying to

Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed the article. It's always wonderful to receive such positive feedback. Gracias for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. Stay tuned for more posts that I hope will equally capture your interest and imagination!

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Dec 26, 2023

Nite, I promised myself that I would monitor your online presence to see if you walked the digital detox talk/ I must say, yesterday you did relatively well. You were offline for several hours during the day. Congratulations!

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Replying to

Thank you for keeping an eye on my digital detox journey! Your acknowledgment of my efforts to stay offline for a few hours on Christmas day means a lot. It's a challenging but rewarding process, and having supportive readers like you makes it all the more worthwhile. Your encouragement is a great motivator as I continue striving for a balanced online presence. Here's to more successful digital detox days!

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Dec 23, 2023

Thank you so much Nite for the life changing article . This is timely and powerful. Gos brought you to do this for a reason. Just relax yourself . Gos is working out something bigger for you . You will surely testify and we are together in this matter.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Dec 23, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your heartfelt comment. I'm truly touched that you found the article life-changing and timely. Your faith and belief in a greater plan and purpose are inspiring. It's a comforting thought that we're all part of something bigger and that our experiences and challenges are shaping us for greater things. I appreciate your encouragement to relax and trust in the journey. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds and sharing those testimonies with you. We are indeed together in this, and your support means a lot.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Dec 23, 2023

Hi nite that was well written and indeed timely to many.we need to slow down at times with this technology,put up our feet and laugh highschool kids we used to be. Kale stay well . Merry Christmas dear.Baali

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Dec 23, 2023
Replying to

Hi Baali,

Thank you for your kind words! I'm glad you found the post both well-written and timely. You're absolutely right about the need to occasionally slow down and disconnect from our technology-laden lives. Remembering the simplicity and joy of our high school days can indeed be a refreshing change. It's important to take those moments to relax and just enjoy life's simpler pleasures.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas as well, filled with laughter and good memories. Stay well and let's keep cherishing those moments of joy and relaxation!

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Dec 23, 2023

Nite. I have just read your piece on Digital detox. Somewhere before finish line, I caught myself about to tell you to use your own advice only to realise you had beaten me to it... clever turn!. For me it was more of self evaluation. The few times we have been to your home, it felt like you had to make a mad rush between cooking for us your visitors and sitting at your keyboard. Now I understand why you let us sit chatting amongst ourselves while you must have been busy pushing deadlines. I honestly thought to my myself," I thought she had picked this day for US " and felt like we had to share you with you…

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Dec 23, 2023
Replying to

Harriet,

Thank you so much for your honest and heartfelt response to my piece on digital detox. It's amusing and humbling to hear that you nearly caught me out on not following my own advice – but you're right, it's a journey I'm actively working on.

Your observations about the balancing act during your visits really hit home. It's a challenge many of us face, trying to juggle professional commitments with personal life, and I appreciate your understanding. I'm sorry if you ever felt like you had to share me with my work. I'll certainly take your words to heart and strive for a better balance, especially when spending time with friends and loved ones.

The next time you're over,…

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