Marina Go: “It’s okay not to be 120 percent busy every second” – StartupSmart

Startup desk

This time a year ago I would have been completing my first work week back following a Christmas break.

I would have been exhausted having thrown myself back into it with many new ideas and the enthusiasm of the optimist that I am.

It’s a strange feeling when your back-to-work week doesn’t involve set days or hours.

Since transitioning out of a full-time executive career in favour of my ‘second’ career as a non-executive director 10 weeks ago, I have had to tell myself constantly that it’s OK not to be 120 percent busy every second of the day.

Without diarised parameters to separate work and play, there is the danger of being seduced by play.

I became aware of this by midweek when, with sun blaring, I afforded myself a few hours at the beach at the request of a friend.

It was a Wednesday and although the beach was relatively full I felt like I should have been at work. I found it hard to completely relax in the way that my companions, including a seasoned company director, were able to.

“What are you going to do in January?” my company director friend had asked me in December.

She went on to explain that very few boards held meetings in January, and to suggest that it would be a good chance to plan my year.

I have a Wests Tigers board meeting in January and a diary that is filling up with networking opportunities. So I am busy, but my days are still largely unstructured.

Shortly after I left full-time employment at the end of October, I had breakfast with a woman who had transitioned six years before.

She explained her non-board meeting days to me.

First thing in the morning she goes for a walk, sometimes with her husband and other times alone.

That is followed by breakfast with her husband before they go their separate ways for the day.

He heads off to work and she heads out for coffee and lunch with friends or peers.

She is always back at her desk by 2pm and then works solidly until 6pm, reading board papers, researching industry news, staying up-to-date with governance issues.

She told me that she sticks closely to her routine. It only changes if there is an afternoon meeting or appointment.

In that case, the day flips, beginning with four hours of work and ending with the networking.

My typical day will undoubtedly look different to that as I tend to spend many more hours each day connected to my laptop.

However, I do understand the need to establish a routine, and quickly, before I either over-compensate by spending too many hours a day working, or become too accustomed to the leisure time that I have never had the luxury to enjoy previously in my career.

I will get there, and enjoying the change so far!

Marina Go is the former general manager of Hearst-Bauer, publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE and Cosmopolitan. She is a director of ASX-listed The Autosports Group, Odyssey House and McGrath Foundation. She’s also the author of Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders. 

This article was originally published on Women’s Agenda. 

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