Work is everywhere. The freedom brought by wireless communications means work follows us wherever we go. But if this constant work creep is taking its toll on your ability to focus, disconnect and relax, and be effective when you are on the job, maybe it’s time to set firm boundaries.
We all wear our busyness as a badge. But a lack of real downtime hurts not just our mental and physical health and our relationships; it makes us less successful employees and business owners. Reclaiming free time is the first step to being productive when you’re at work and fulfilled when you’re not.
Differentiate between what’s urgent and what’s important.
There will always be another email or message – but is responding to it always the most important task at hand? Carve out time for longer-range planning, higher-level thinking, re-evaluating your processes instead of chasing your tail with constant interruptions. Dedicate a chunk of every day to the larger view and the bigger questions about your business.
Get it done in 40 hours.
More isn’t always better. Challenge yourself to not rely on those hours in the evening to finish up the day’s work. Declare an actual end of the workday.
If you find you really need more work to do, start a side hustle and keep ironclad hours for that work as well.
Garner the respect of your colleagues and clients by setting working hours.
Retrain those you work with by not responding after hours. Over time they’ll bother you less and come to respect your discipline and precious personal time.
Rethink your notifications.
Instead of defaulting to opting in, always available and alerted to everything, go through your channels and firm up your boundaries. Put the Do Not Disturbs, Away Messages, the unavailable hours on Calendly to work for you. Let them be strong where you’re weak.
Spend one full day removed from work every week.
Maybe being incommunicado all weekend just isn’t possible. Fine. Pick one day and spend it as far away as you can, mentally and physically. Like, say, with a book printed on paper. In the out-of-doors. (Studies of the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” show that time spent in nature improves mood, reduces stress, and boosts anti-cancer cells.)
Realize that checking email won’t assuage work guilt.
Answering Slack messages or email from the soccer field or the school event won’t impress your boss or make you feel better about ducking out early. It’ll just make you feel inattentive and scattered on both fronts.
Stop using social media as entertainment.
Disconnecting from work is made all the more difficult if you insist on spending your evenings on Twitter or Facebook. Not only are you not unplugging from a constant stream of stimuli, an always-open laptop makes it all the more easy to drift over to that always-open email tab.
What do you do to balance your life? Tweet at us @DesignliCo with your tips and tricks. We’d love to chat!