Hard Stop

Hard Stop – English (plural hard stops); Noun

  1. A definite time when someone must end a task in order to meet another time commitment.
    1. I have a hard stop at 4pm, so please try to cover everything in the meeting before then.
  2. Making time for yourself to do what matters most- taking care of yourself to restore and reset the body, mind and soul; to make time to spend with family and/or friends.
    1. I have a hard stop at 2:00 – we’re going to a concert with the kids

The phrase “hard stop” became part of my vocabulary during Covid lockdown.  Working from my home offices in East Hampton, Florida and Maine during the period between March of 2020 throughout 2021, I felt strongly that I could not be fixed to a computer zoom screen 24/7.  My practice is not a 9 to 5 routine.  Client emails and calls come in from as far away as Malaysia and London and from all over the United States.  My responsiveness is key to my client relationships so I am constantly drawn to the phone and computer.  Hence, the need for regular mental health rest time. During lockdown, it was impossible to get away from the computer as it was never more than a few feet away.  Thus the term “hard stop” came into regular use and practice and continues to this day.  My office does not schedule calls before 9:00am or after 4pm.  There is still business activity outside of those hours, but not generated by me or my staff unless it is a matter of utmost urgency. 

                My friend and colleague Thom took it upon himself to incorporate the term into dictionary format –and enshrined the phrase on baseball caps for everyone as holiday gifts.  I think Thom’s definitions are good ones.  We all need time off.  Those of us in the service business – professionals, white collar, blue collar—are instantly accessible through cell phones and computers for work-related matters these days.  No more letter writing to inquire.  Just bang out a few words with “call me.”  I cherish my time off.  I now spend more leisure time playing tennis, swimming, painting and today– writing a column.  I am no longer driven by meeting billable hour goals.  I’m 83 years old – I can fairly say I am due some time off. Yes, I believe Thom really got the idea. Hard stop.  

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