In this edition of Leadership Tips, Carrier Management has gathered some expert advice to help you relax, reset and recharge your leadership engine.


You don’t always need to be “present.”

Despite the shift to flexible and remote work in many companies since the pandemic began, employees are still exhibiting “presenteeism”—a compulsion, often performative, to work long hours and be available around the clock even when unwell or unproductive.

In fact, the problem may be getting worse due to a perceived lack of trust from employers and the inability of many employees to draw firm boundaries between work and personal time, according to a BBC article.

The daily commute used to give people a chance to shift gears and wind down at the end of the day. Without a clear physical separation between work and home, people often find it difficult to “turn off,” leading to longer working hours, increased workloads and difficulty taking personal time. Many employees working from home also feel the need to prove their dedication and productivity by being constantly available—checking emails and working over the weekend, during vacation or even when they’re sick.

Clearly define your working hours and don’t engage with work during personal time—unless it’s a true emergency.

It’s also important to lead by example. Senior leaders need to stop celebrating people for being “always on” or praising them for working overtime.

Source: “When so much at work has changed, why can’t we shake presenteeism?” BBC, July 24, 2023

Forget work-life balance—focus on integration.

Pursuing work-life balance is impractical and can lead to disappointment, guilt and even more stress. Life is never in balance—sometimes work or family needs to take top priority, while at other times we may just need time to take care of ourselves, according to James Kerr, a management consultant and leadership coach.

Using the term balance also implies that everyone places the same value on their work and personal life. Some individuals find fulfillment and satisfaction in dedicating a significant portion of their time to work, while others may prioritize personal pursuits or relationships.

A better goal might be work-life integration: finding ways to harmonize and blend your work responsibilities with your personal life in a way that supports your overall well-being and satisfaction. This holistic approach enables us to shift our mindset and adjust expectations so we can do everything in our lives more fully and with greater satisfaction.

How to start:

  • Figure out what’s important. Consider your long-term goals and the things that bring you joy and fulfillment.
  • Determine specific times or even days when you are fully dedicated to work and others when you will focus solely on personal matters—and communicate your schedule to loved ones and colleagues.
  • Talk to your employer about options such as remote work, flexible hours or compressed workweeks that allow you to balance your professional and personal commitments effectively.
  • Learn to delegate tasks or ask for help when necessary. Delegation not only relieves your workload but also allows you to focus on high-priority tasks and responsibilities.
  • Make self-care a priority—regular exercise, mindfulness practices, hobbies, spending quality time with loved ones, and taking breaks throughout the day to recharge and rejuvenate.

Source: “Why Work-Life Balance Is the Wrong Goal,” Psychology Today, July 31, 2023

Fight “tech neck” with yoga.

Staring at our phones, tablets or computers all day causes us to strain muscles in our necks and backs, leading to a painful problem commonly referred to as “tech neck.” Some key signs that show your posture is starting to take a toll include frequent headaches, pain between the shoulder blades, a stiff or immovable neck, and even jaw pain.

Simply changing how you hold your device makes a big difference in combating long-term posture problems. One easy fix is to raise your devices so that they’re on eye-level. It’s important to be conscious of how straight you sit—slumping can lead to neck and shoulder strain.

Practicing yoga moves also works to stretch and relax the muscles that become tense during the day. A wellness expert from ISSA Yoga says to focus on low-impact moves that bend your spine without causing unnecessary stress to your sore muscles, as the goal is to strengthen them, not strain them. She recommends Standing Forward Bend, Warrior II Pose, Extended Triangle Pose, Cat Pose and Thread the Needle.

Source: “Yoga expert reveals quick fix for ‘tech neck,’ as new ranking finds California has one of the worst postures in the US,” PR release from ISSA Yoga, July 18, 2023

Reflect and recharge.

Pushing yourself too hard can take a toll on your body and mind—stress levels go up, the quality of sleep goes down, your immune system loses strength, and your creativity vanishes.

Sometimes the best way to get things done is to do nothing at all, writes Ken Blanchard on his How We Lead blog. Stepping away can help us see more clearly and feel newly inspired. In other words, break away from your routine of constant activity to reboot your mental and physical health.

No matter where you live or what resources you have, it’s important to find a place where you can reflect and recharge. Maybe it’s a nearby park, a beach or a campground. Once you find that special place, prioritize spending time there; it will make you more productive and also allow you to experience the joy of nature—alone or with someone you love.

Source: “How to Recharge Through Rest and Reflection,” How We Lead blog, July 26, 2023

Take a vacation.

Whether you prefer lounging by a pool sipping piña coladas, going hiking or cycling, or even just enjoying a staycation, taking a vacation is beneficial to your mind and body.

Being overwhelmed with work can lead to cognitive fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and impaired problem-solving ability, and even affect your immune system, leaving you more prone to sickness, Executive Coach Rebecca Zucker writes in Harvard Business Review. Taking a vacation provides greater opportunity for rest and better sleep, which can help unclutter your mind and allow you to think more clearly. It can also boost your mood and allow your immune system to recover.

Physical activities like hiking, biking and swimming can improve your heart and respiratory health, build stronger bones and muscles, and improve balance. If you prefer to be pampered on vacation, getting a massage is not only relaxing but also improves circulation and flexibility while decreasing muscle stiffness and joint inflammation.

Source: “How Taking a Vacation Improves Your Well-Being,” Harvard Business Review, July 19, 2023

Head off vacation anxiety.

Vacation is meant to be a time to recharge and rejuvenate, but it can also lead to stress as you think of the mountain of work that’s going to pile up in your absence.

Rather than giving in and working through your vacation, mental health experts speaking to WorkLife News recommend mitigating that anxiety with a few simple steps:

  • Create a to-do list to ensure important tasks are finalized before your vacation begins.
  • Let your team know that you’ll be unavailable and assign tasks as needed. It might be helpful to have a knowledge-sharing session with your cover to make sure everything runs smoothly while you’re away. Consider establishing a point of contact on your team who can share what you missed upon your return.
  • Don’t forget to create an out-of-office alert complete with contact information for a relevant colleague. You can provide your cellphone number in case of emergency—but make sure your team understands your definition of an emergency.
  • If you feel the need to check email or phone messages while on vacation, limit it to the very beginning or end of each day.
  • Returning to work mid-week and limiting meetings will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed when you get back.

Source: “Post-PTO scaries leave workers feeling anxious, stressed,” WorkLife, Aug. 2, 2023

Time for a sabbatical?

If you’re feeling burned out and ready to quit, a one-week vacation might not be enough to get you back on track. You might want to consider taking an extended break instead.

Taking a sabbatical can help you find renewed focus at your current job, or even help you realize that you’re ready for a career change.

Don’t wait until you’re already burned out to start considering a sabbatical. Plan for it in advance—maybe setting a goal of taking an extended leave in three years and actively saving up money for it.

Make sure you take enough time to truly reap the benefits—at least six months if you’re able—and to commit as much as possible to unplugging from your day-to-day work during that time. This will give you time to not only recover but also explore. Recovery could involve spending time in nature, going on a yoga retreat, visiting family or friends. As for exploration, you might consider traveling, taking a class, starting a new hobby.

Source: “When a Vacation Isn’t Enough, a Sabbatical Can Recharge Your Life—and Your Career,” Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, Feb. 14, 2023

Stay positive.

Maintaining a positive attitude can improve nearly every aspect of your life, but it isn’t easy. Steve Keating, author of the Lead Today offers these tips:

  • Focus on the things you are grateful for in your life. Regularly acknowledge and appreciate the positive aspects, no matter how small. Keeping a gratitude journal can be helpful.
  • Spend time with people who uplift and inspire you. Supportive relationships can have a significant impact on your attitude and outlook.
  • Instead of dwelling on problems, direct your energy toward finding solutions.
  • Identify activities that make you feel happy and fulfilled—hobbies, sports, simply spending time in nature.
  • Pay attention to the information you consume, whether through the news, social media or conversations. Limit exposure to negative or toxic content.
  • Acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrate your progress and give yourself credit for your efforts.

Source: “How to Maintain a Positive Attitude,” Lead Today blog, Aug. 6, 2023