Taking a break from one’s responsibilities and work is vital. During this period, one has the chance to take a breather, and come back to work with a rejuvenated approach and perspective. HOME Magazine asked two of the busiest people in the country about their opinion on taking time off. Nada Zarour is the President of the Green Party of Lebanon (2011 - Present) carrying principles of green politics and the president and co-founder of Green Mind (2012 - Present) a non-governmental organization established by a group of Lebanese professionals seeking to inspire and promote sustainable social and economic practices throughout the Mid East and North Africa. Karim Kobeissi is the co-founder and managing partner of Kobeissi & Frangie - Attorneys & Counselors at Law (KFA). He is specialized in corporate finance, telecommunications and energy. He has previously practiced in New York City where he worked at Dewey Ballantine in the corporate restructuring department and served as senior legal and policy advisor for the Ministry of Telecommunications between 2011 and 2014 and for the Ministry of Energy and Water between 2004 and 2005 and for the Ministry of Finance between 2004 and 2005.
- DO YOU TAKE TIME OFF?
Nada Zarour: My weekends are usually my days off. I tend to unplug from my day-to-day and use this time to focus more on my family and reflect on my week and plan the week ahead.
Karim Kobeissi: Yes. I try to have vacations at least once a year.
- WHEN DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT IS A GOOD TIME TO TAKE TIME OFF?
Nada Zarour: There is no right time. It depends on how many projects I have, and usually it is right after I finish a big project.
Karim Kobeissi: I tend to take time off when I feel the need to be away after a hectic period of work.
- HOW OFTEN DO YOU TAKE TIME OFF THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?
Nada Zarour: I make it a point of taking at least one long family trip with my husband and the kids.
Karim Kobeissi: Once a year at summer time, mainly during August.
- HOW LONG DO YOU TAKE TIME OFF FOR?
Nada Zarour: Usually our long trips are at least 2 weeks.
Karim Kobeissi: I try to take off for two to three weeks per year, but it’s not always feasible, many times I had to interrupt or cancel my vacations for work.I recall, for instance, during my vacation a couple of years ago where I had to meet my family in the United States, I had an urgent call from a client and had to cancel all my plans and fly back to assume my responsibilities while the client himself was still enjoying his vacation abroad!
- WHAT’S YOUR IDEAL WAY TO TAKE TIME OFF?
Nada Zarour: My ideal way to take off is to spend quality time with my family and grandchildren. Fun family activities are always the right way to go.
Karim Kobeissi: The ideal way to take off is to travel to places with different time zones like the United States, mainly California; this is the only way to be somehow disconnected, which allows me to devote some time to my family and to myself! I enjoy spending time alone, it is therapeutic and beneficial at all levels. I also dedicate an important part of my days off to visiting museums and art galleries, I am an art collector.
- ON YOUR OFF DAYS, ARE YOU COMPLETELY OFF? OFF FROM EMAILS?
Nada Zarour: Even when I’m not working, I am always thinking and processing ideas in the background. I don’t consider it “work” since my line of work is related to our day-to-day lives. I also manage to catch up on some reading on those days.
Karim Kobeissi: Unless I am in a different time zone, it’s almost impossible to be completely disconnected during my vacation even if I intended to be for multiple reasons; I blame it mostly on technology! Everybody is one click away with all these new communication tools. On the other hand, the nature of my job imposes a certain level of availability all year round; as a lawyer I am entrusted with the interests of my clients, and I take this trust very seriously. So I do check my emails during my days off and reply to urgent matters.
- WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS YOU FIND AFTER TAKING DAYS OFF?
Nada Zarour: I feel rejuvenated after a couple of days off; they get me ready to start off my week.
Karim Kobeissi: Vacations are an important way for people to relax and recharge their batteries; it is important to take time off from work to sustain our productivity and reduce stress. On a personal level, taking time off allows me to pursue other interests; it is also the ideal time for me to reflect on new ways to accomplish success at work, to assess the past year and set new goals, it helps me gain a fresh perspective on the vision of my future professional plans.
- SOMETIMES TAKING TIME OFF IS NOT AN OPTION. WHAT CAN ONE DO TO “TAKE TIME OFF“ WITHOUT REALLY “TAKING TIME OFF“?
Nada Zarour: One should always use weekends as time off even if it means a few hours doing something new and fun with the family.
Karim Kobeissi: Short breaks every now and then help me sustain when it’s impossible to have long vacations; I usually escape to the mountains; spending time in the nature, having long hiking trips, or spending a weekend away from the crowded city is always an option.
- IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN TAKING OFF EVERY DAY AND HAVING SMALL BREAKS OR WORKING EVERY DAY VERY HARD FOR A LONG BREAK OVERSEAS, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Nada Zarour: I don’t mind both. My work is my passion, I do it because I enjoy it, and therefore taking days off are merely to spend more time with my family rather than taking off of work.
Karim Kobeissi: I definitely choose long breaks overseas; it is a therapy for me, especially after hard work all year long; Our profession is highly demanding and consumes us, long breaks help me fuel up to resume work with enthusiasm.
"My work is my passion, I do it because I enjoy it, and therefore taking days off are merely to spend more time with my family rather than taking off of work." Nada Zarour
- DO YOU THINK THERE IS A SPECIFIC WORK-REST CYCLE THAT CAN BE DEEMED AS MOST HEALTHY?
Nada Zarour: I believe that having a balance in everything you do in life is the healthiest way to go. Too much of anything is harmful.
Karim Kobeissi: In the legal profession, our work schedules are rarely limited by a set number of hours rather, they are guided by our energy levels and ruled by the sense of responsibility towards our clients; In my opinion, like most engines, our brain needs to rest at some point, it would be counterproductive if we push harder when it’s time to switch off.However, people have different energy levels at different times regardless of their work nature, thus there is no standard work-rest cycle that can be applied by default to all; it’s ideal to make sure our stamina continuously meets the efforts required to go on, otherwise it’s time to have a break.
"In the legal profession, our work schedules are rarely limited by a set number of hours rather, they are guided by our energy levels and ruled by the sense of responsibility towards our clients. " Karim Kobeissi
- THEY SAY THAT THE PERSON THAT MOST NEEDS A VACATION IS A PERSON THAT JUST HAD A VACATION. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH YOUR RETURN TO WORK AFTER TIME OFF?
Nada Zarour: I usually look forward to getting back and working on new projects. Vacations are times to unwind and enjoy quality time with the family without any work worries. However, as mentioned before, I usually never completely disconnect from my work, which keeps me in the loop for when I am back.
Karim Kobeissi: Usually the expectations of people returning to work after a vacation and the reality have very little in common; we all fall in the same trap. While many of us expect to sit down at our desks after time away filled with boundless energy and a restored appetite for work , we usually end up spending several scattered hours (or days) trying to process a flood of emails, pending requests, and falling further behind on tasks which lessen our determination for a fresh quick start.However if we treat our return as something that needs to be managed in advance as we do when planning our vacations we can escape the agonies of the comeback. It is very important to have an organized calendar; scheduling in advance our meetings and pending tasks and follow-ups as if we never skipped a day at office. Normally, I don’t schedule meetings during the first weekafter my vacation to be able to kick off efficiently.