Today I’m at home, pretending to take a vacation day.  The dogs are wrestling around or outside chasing after one another.  Good music fills my living room and kitchen and a good cup of coffee sits near at all times.

It’s my first real day of vacation for 2014 and it’s sorely needed.  I say pretending because I’m too obsessive about work to let emails that can be taken care of go for very long.  It makes me think about what life was like a decade ago in my first job after college.

It was a great job really, I worked for the CEO of a smallish company in Minnetonka.  We were essentially a consultancy for promotional marketing and strangely my role was that of the person in charge of actual marketing the company.  It was small shop, about 12 sales people, an admin, a few graphic designers, two operations people (much of the work was importing from China), the CEO and myself.

Back then, email was how we communicated, but it wasn’t something you did out of work.  You cut off after 5 or 6pm and picked up again at 7 or 8am, depending on the time of year (Fall was busy season, 10-12 hours for everybody.)  So issues arising during the off hours just had to wait!

Things have changed drastically as smart phones have become pervasive.  This is the part where I go all “get off my lawn” and complain about how we work too much and life is too busy, etc., right?  Well, actually no.  Having access to urgent issues and being able to answer in real time is valuable for businesses and myself.

The ability to know what  to respond to and what to let alone is a very real skill set, one which I need to work on myself.  Not everything needs an answer.  There are many other socially contextual changes with email that have evolved too.  Should you use emoticons?  Do you send emails to direct reports after hours (family time and timeline expectations of answers)?   Can you use email as a way “talk” to others with frequent, rapid responses?  All contextual.

The interesting thing is that these “rules” aren’t actually rules.  They are guidelines different in different scenarios and they will change.  Teens today text and communicate very differently than we did, and to assume that they will adapt to the organizations they grow up to work for is backwards, the organizations will have to adapt to them.  It’s all moving forward, faster and faster.

When I think about  how fast everything has gone since graduating college, it boggles the mind.  And it’s only going forward, faster and faster.

Every year seems faster than the last.  So many relationships, so many friends and coworkers and new things to learn.  So many things to be thankful for.

One of them is the first vacation day of the year, where I get to reflect on all the wonderful things that have happened, while pretending to take the day off.