By Tracey Mendrek, Senior Consultant

A colleague of mine and I have a running joke about vegging on the weekend and PTO (personal time off).  We think of it as quite a concept in our busy, fast-paced world.  More importantly we are thankful that no one tells us we have to veg or take PTO, because what would we do if we had to spend time without checking our email or waiting for the next ping on our smartphone?  We have, after all, built our livelihood on being accessible.

So what would happen if we didn’t pick up the phone?  And is there a statute of limitations on responding to an email?  Perhaps yes, but perhaps not. 

Perhaps what there really is, is an opportunity for some middle ground.  When the voices in my head are so loud I have to turn off the radio or the flipchart size post-it note I keep prominently displayed in the hall is full to capacity, perhaps then it’s time to take some PTO.

In most other cultures there are parts of the day that are devoted to one’s self.  Working in Barcelona I experienced the concept of a siesta, in Tokyo afternoon tea and in Aspen the lung burning midday hike.   And while these are not forced acts of solitary confinement, they do put the focus on other things for a period of time, no matter how brief. 

So while I am taking that personal time off or time out as the case may be, I’m not only helping myself I am helping my client.  I am making room to hear what my client is saying.  I am allowing time for creativity and expression.  I am conceiving a new strategy.  I am creating space.