Co-authored by Ken Daniels


Work hard, play hard. Sleep when you’re dead 😵.

We’ve heard the same clichés at Cisco, and from our partners. Hard working professionals can find endless ways to excuse maintaining an overly stressful and unsustainable approach to work. We often need to be better about following our own advice to partners, but there are a huge number of benefits in stepping back and taking some time to achieve a work/life balance.

Individuals and businesses both realize the benefits of employees taking time to recharge and find the balance. Mental Health America writes that balance is necessary. “It’s easy to forget that as our stress levels spike, our productivity plummets.” [1] Sleeping when you’re dead overlooks the most important detail…you’re dead.

Overworking has become the new normal, and that is not good for your business or Cisco’s. “94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week” [2] This stress can be even greater when the employee is a working parent. Parenthood can even drive the decision to take a job based on proximity. “The commute to daycare can make or break your ability to spend invaluable bonding time before, during and after work with your children.” [3]

Most individuals in high stress jobs do have hobbies that help them recharge, and I certainly encourage pursuing those to relieve stress. It makes you much more productive and focused in the long run. In fact, I’ve joined plenty of WebEx calls and picked up on people’s hobbies just from what I see in the background. From a wall of guitars or sports memorabilia, to pop culture props, we all have hobbies that help recharge our batteries. I encourage my Cisco colleagues and my partner counterparts to pursue those things that make the long days worthwhile! Hobbies aren’t the only outlet, either. There are other meaningful ways to balance life with work.

I’ve heard from some of you that you harbor deep regrets for missing special days in your children’s lives. We should all make sure that doesn’t happen for any of us. Working hard, burning the midnight oil, and traveling extra days can take a heavy toll.

Investing in work is important, but there is a cumulative cost to missing recitals, games, concerts and even birthdays or holidays. For those of us in sales, not closing the deal today because of attending your kid’s baseball game, or a wedding anniversary dinner, or taking the opportunity to hang out with a distant friend who happens to be in town, should take precedence. Yes, deadlines matter, and doing our part at work matters but taking the time to experience life with your friends and family is what makes the long workdays worth it.

High-stress professionals, including those of us in technical sales at Cisco and at our partners, need to recognize the signs of stress. Understand the benefits of time off and take advantage of that benefit. Check your PTO balance. Take a long weekend. Make sure you’re not missing out on a life event. Work is important, but balance is essential, and it actually makes us all more productive in the long run.

  1. Work Life Balance. (2015, October 06). Retrieved February 26, 2019, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/work-life-balance
  2. Lee, D. J. (2014, October 27). 6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahlee/2014/10/20/6-tips-for-better-work-life-balance/#6e29fc3629ff
  3. Heathfield, S. M. (2018, December 9). The Importance of Achieving Work-Life Balance and How To Do It. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/work-life-balance-1918292