Employees who cut back or took time off like Pink and Kendall Jenner tell Moneyish how they made it work.
Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back to move forward.
Katriel C. Sarfati was putting in 15-hour days, often for six days a week, as the chief marketing officer of an NYC real estate company. But when a client canceled a day of meetings in March 2016, Sarfeti spent his sudden free time in the park with his son. It was a revelation.
“His excitement that I was around was both touching, but also a reality check that he was used to me not being around,” Sarfati, 31, told Moneyish. He started delegating tasks to colleagues who did them better. “I suddenly found myself with an extra one or two hours a day,” he said.
But those few extra hours weren’t enough, so Sarfati moved to Miami, giving up the Manhattan rat race for being able to work from his phone on the beach. He now applies his consulting and marketing skills to startups while working just three days a week. “I’ve since discovered things like meditation, and eating way better, and I even have time to cook!” he said.
Australian Sireesha Narumanchi was working 60-hour weeks juggling three gigs, including two remote jobs as a search engine evaluator and a freelance researcher. “I struggled with the guilt of not spending enough time with my kids, even though I was working from home,” she said, and every day ended with her “feeling stressed out and left with no energy at all.”
So Narumanchi, 40, cut back at those remote gigs three years ago to focus on her blog for remote workers. She’s now clocking 40 hours a week at most. “Scaling back work has given me a big chance to focus more on important parts of my business and life,” she said.
Everyone wants to carve more time for themselves. The most recent Gallup data says the average American works 44.5 hours a week, after all, and 29% report that they put in 45 to 59 hours, while 16% work 60-plus hours. The Mayo Clinic found that burnout is driving physicians to lessen their workload; 16% cut their hours to part-time in 2014, up from 13.5% in 2008. And a 2013 New York Times/CBS News survey found that half (49%) of mothers would rather work part-time, and working moms who made a family-related work sacrifice were happier afterward.
But stepping back can feel counterintuitive in our 24/7 work culture. And there’s a very real fear that downshifting your workplace responsibilities to take care of yourself, your children or your family will torpedo your career trajectory — or spur colleagues to accuse you of slacking off. After all, Pink had a perfectly legitimate reason to postpone four Sydney shows during her “Beautiful Trauma World Tour” over the past week; a gastric virus landed her in the hospital. Yet that didn’t stop fairweather fans and some media outlets from calling her out after a paparazzi photo surfaced showing the singer on the beach.
“What these parasite paparazzi don’t show you, is two doctor visits in Byron on two consecutive days, antibiotics, steroids, Vick’s, nose spray, throat spray, more steroids, NyQuil, a screaming baby in the middle of the night, every night, while mama gives him warm baths and tells her daughter everything is fine,” Pink wrote on Instagram.
I don’t need to clear this up, but out of respect for my fans I will attempt it. I scheduled this tour meticulously, trying to do what was best for my children, while also putting on the best and most physically demanding and beautiful show of my life. This break in Byron has been scheduled since 2017, as a way to get outside the hotel and the winter and have some time with my children. I’ve already been sick twice (kids as well)on this Australian tour, but the first time we got sick, I was able to push through. This time, what these parasite paparazzi don’t show you, is two doctor visits in Byron on two consecutive days, antibiotics, steroids, Vick’s, nose spray, throat spray, more steroids, NyQuil, a screaming baby in the middle of the night, every night, while mama gives him warm baths and tells her daughter everything is fine. You can think whatever you want, it’s your right, but I have never taken advantage of any one in my entire life. I have never fucked off while disrespecting hard working people who spend money to come see me play. I have never phoned in a single tour, I have an impeccable record for not cancelling. I mother with everything I have whilst handling all the rest. The snark in this is unbelievable and makes me long for a nicer world. I’m doing the absolute best I can, and you can believe it or not. What they don’t show you in this picture is me drinking water and lying down while my friends try to entertain my 7 year old who is asking me why these creepy men are surrounding us and pacing back and forth and taking pictures of her every move. I will see everyone tomorrow whether I’m better or not, and the postponed show will be rescheduled. As I said, I’m sorry to the real fans who this situation has affected. Onwards and upwards.
And Kendall Jenner, who bumped Gisele Bundchen as the world’s highest paid model by earning $22 million last year, sat out New York, London and Milan Fashion Week last February to go skiing with her family. “Last season I didn’t do any shows,” the 22-year-old supermodel recently told Love Magazine (as reported by Elle). “I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.”
But the truth is, many people are saddled with family crises and “invisible” inflictions, like migraines or mental health issues that aren’t always obvious. Here’s scale back at work while minimizing the backlash.
Be upfront with your boss. Gregory Bullock, the marketing manager at TheraSpecs, which helps light-sensitive workers like migraine sufferers, says to be honest from the very beginning. “If you try working through a health issue, you could set unrealistic expectations,” he said. “Talk to your direct supervisor, and the people who will be directly affected by your work, to let them know what’s going on. You don’t need to send a company-wide email.” And bring evidence, such as a note from your doctor that you’ve had 15 migraine attacks in the past couple of months, and that fluorescent lighting can trigger them.
Bring a Plan B. Pink has already set new Sydney tour dates to make up the shows that she missed. “Look at your upcoming projects and deadlines, and get out ahead of anything that is going to be changed,” said Bullock. Say, “I’m not going to meet this first deadline, but I can turn it around by this next date.” Or come up with a plan of attack for your team; you’ll work remotely these two days each week, but you can call into the weekly status meeting.
Don’t apologize. “It is key to understand that you need to put you and your needs first. If you are not at your best, how will you bring your best to work or to world today?” career coach Heather Monahan told Moneyish. So use this mindset when talking to your boss or coworkers. Starting off with an apology — “I am so sorry to do this to you, but I can’t travel as much as I have been, because things have been too hard on me and my family” puts you on the defensive. Instead, lead with: “I’m not going to be able to travel any longer during the week, as it is affecting my health. I know that you want me to be my best so I can represent the company in the same manner I always have. I appreciate your understanding.”
Stay connected so that you stay relevant. Don’t be out of sight, out of mind. Touch base with your team on Slack or over email if you’re not in the office. If you take a leave of absence, meet up with colleagues and connections in your network, and ask about what they’re working on and what’s happening in your field so that you remain plugged in. Freelance a couple of assignments or volunteer in your community so that your face and your name are still out there. Plus, this can lead to new opportunities that are less of a drain on your time and your health.
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