The idea that a "good" supply chain manager never stops working, or at least thinking about work, is persistent, but ultimately wrong. It drives talented professionals to obsess over supply chain efficiency and turns what should be a relaxing day off into a restless, bit-chomping wait to get back to the office. Even if you don't ascribe to this particular notion, you may struggle to leave work at your desk instead of mentally bringing it back home with you.
Here are a few ways you can reclaim your "me" time in a work-centric world.
1. Front-Load Next Week.
Belinda Lanks of Bloomberg Business explains that efficiency-focused managers often stress over upcoming scheduling on their days off. To prevent projects and looming deadlines from tumbling through your consciousness when you should be enjoying a backyard BBQ, use Friday afternoon to block out a schedule for the following week. It will be easier to kick back knowing that your future tasks all have a neat temporal niche to live in, rather than a worrisome jumble that's constantly interrupting your downtime.
2. Make the Most of Crunch Time.
Consider an interesting question from the author of the popular life skills book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: "If an evil villain cut power to the office right now, what would you still do?"
This scenario allows you to narrow your focus on what's really important, not just what "feels" that way, in the last hour or two before you head out for the weekend or your day off. Without focus, it's easy to let the frantic closing-time push pull you in a dozen different directions, making you feel like you didn't accomplish enough, even when you did. Be sure to communicate your sanity-saving time management techniques with the employees on your team as well—you want your team to leave work feeling refreshed right along with you.
3. Use Visualization to Disconnect.
Laura McMullen of US News & World Report Health refers to Amit Sood's "The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living" in encouraging workers to make a work day/road trip connection: Though cars are built for long hauls, the fact is that if the engine isn't shut down periodically, it will overheat and ultimately break. Your mind and effort are comparable to that engine in a work environment.
If you just keep running and never rest, you will burn out. Achieving supply chain efficiency requires you to be on the top of your game, and that means pulling the car over on a regular basis to refresh yourself.
4. Even the Big Names are in on It.
It's difficult to find an employer that's more high-profile than Google, and even the tech giant recognizes the need for employees to leave work at work. Max Nisen of Accenture looks at a unique policy, dubbed "Google Goes Dark," in play at the company's Dublin Offices. Employees are expected to leave their work devices—laptops, tablets, work-specific smart phones and so on—at the front desk before heading home for the weekend. Google noticed a disturbing trend of inability to separate home and work life among its employees, and this initiative was developed to help delineate those boundaries.
Building supply chain efficiency in your capacity as a manager is just as much about your out of work behavior as it is about the decisions you make behind a desk. To perform at your best while on the clock, you'll need to take the time to recharge when it’s available to you—and that means forcing your brain to leave the office along with your body. For dedicated supply chain professionals, this may be easier said than done, but it isn't impossible.