No wonder I am on sick leave

chest infection

I have a particularly nasty chest infection at the moment (never a good thing for an asthmatic like me) and my doctor has told me not to do any work, even at home, until I have completed the course of medicine he  has prescribed and I feel fine again.

Unless I am completely knocked out on bed though, being off sick and not able to work probably stresses me more than doing what work I can. That said, I recognise that I have not been looking after myself this year.

work / life balance

I have been off colour several times this year already although have not taken much time off. I did not even manage a decent break at Easter as I was unwell for three of the four days involved. (I should have had the preceding couple of days off work but we were in the middle of something critical that I had really wanted to see completed.)

The project I am on is big and complex and I have a lot of responsibility. I have had the odd day off because of feeling unwell but should have taken more time to recover as well as being careful about the hours I have worked.

I hate mondays

Mondays were the worst day as after an early morning start to get to the office shortly between 9-10, you had a full day of work and then went off into a senior management meeting that did not finish until 11.30pm (and later for some). More recently these meetings have been less regular, on site (rather than a 30 minute drive away), and finished earlier.

long hours

The rest of the week I was not leaving the office until after 7pm. The hotel was just over the road so after checking in, freshening up, and ordering food, I (like many of my colleagues) would fire up the laptop and get back to it. The arrival of the food would herald a short break and a bit of telly I actually followed for a while. Once the food was gone, I would just “finish off” a few things.

There have been many occasions though when a work colleague has replied to my emails in the early hours of the morning or even instant-messaged me (we have an internal instant messaging system) to check something. We must all be mad.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all kick-off with an 8am morning-prayers meeting that I have trouble seeing the value in at the moment (these are usually reserved for critsit – critical situation – periods on projects which I do not believed we have reached).

hotel food

The hotel menu is relatively sparse, so some nights I order for delivery an Indian or Chinese take-away (or occasionally go out and collect one myself). Probably one night a week, I do go out with colleagues for a meal (Indian, Thai or Chinese mostly – not keen on Tapas or Italian restaurants too focused on cheese)

exercise and diet

What you will have noticed is missing from the above is any kind of exercise (and I am not a great exponent of the art), little leisure time, and virtually no healthy food. Two years ago, I was swimming every day at 6am. I just do not feel like getting up at 6am any more. I have not been for a swim for over a year, ever since I developed a constant cough that seemed to be made worse by swimming.

family life

My family is not best pleased with me. Given the above, it is not surprising that when I get home on a Friday evening, I am pretty much exhausted and do not want to do much over the weekend. The kids just see me lazing around and not being as interested in what they are doing as I should be and my wife, having not had my company all week, then feels somewhat neglected at the weekends. Not good. Given that for years, I have spent more nights living away from home than living at home, I do sometimes feel that I live two lives. My wife is though very supportive and as understanding as she can be and we also talk a lot during the week. With the help of Skype and the like when I am away, we have in the past all “dined” together – I am eating too late at the moment to make this work. It has certainly given some of my kid’s friends a shock in the past (having not taken much notice of the open laptop in the middle of the dining table at the start of the meal).

changing things

I am now actively trying to work more sensible house. On my last project, which saw me working near Heathrow 5 days a week, I did not get away from the office until around 6.30-7pm on Fridays. I am now trying to leave mid-afternoon on Fridays and sometimes earlier if at all possible. I also arrive later on a Monday than I used to. I am looking at being more protective of my hours in the evening and possibly getting to sleep earlier so I can take up the swimming again.

There was talk of being put up in managed flats rather than living in hotels. One of my colleagues (in fact my boss, working on another project) who was always opposed to living in flat was recently forced to do so and has reported it to be a huge benefit. The flat is fully managed so is cleaned and bedding changed just like a hotel room. He can cook is own food though and please himself. As a direct result of cooking for himself, he has lost a lot of weight (and he is no great cook).

As I expect to be on my current project for some considerable time, I must explore the flat option. That would remove the convenient swimming option from my day though (assuming I ever take it up again).

Photography is one of my main hobbies, so I am looking at both getting out and about and doing a bit more in the evenings now the light is with me and also getting some models over to the hotel for shoots. I notice many other photographers who live in hotels during the week do this.  Obviously, would want it to be clear that nothing sleazy that could bring me or my employer into disrepute was going on.

So, fingers crossed that I get better this week (with the benefit of a long bank-holiday weekend coming up) and can return to work healthy next week and put my plans into action.

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