When Was The Last Time YOU Unplugged?
In a recent post, I talked about why it is so important to “unplug” from work; to not be available at all hours of the day and night. Evidence shows that it is necessary to cut those ties to the office, at least for a while, in order to recharge your body, mind and spirit. Research indicated that by doing so, your attitude toward your job improves, and your brain restores itself to maximum function.
But I realize sometimes that’s easier said than done to unplug, given the increased communication options available and the increased expectations that you will use them at all hours. So today, I’ll share five tips that may help you actually make it happen.
5 Ways To Unplug From Work
Clearly Define Your “Workday” Limits
It’s a good idea to be very open with your boss and co-workers about when you will and won’t be available for work-related tasks and conversations. Obviously, it is wise at the same time to make it clear you will handle all requests in a timely fashion, and will give priority to important projects and client issues. But be sure to enforce your boundaries, lest periodic exceptions become the rule.
Know What Is and Isn’t Urgent
Just because someone sends you an email or a text very late at night or very early in the morning, that doesn’t mean you have to address the issue, or even respond, instantly. The sender may be on an odd schedule, and just sending it before he or she forgets – never expecting it to wake you up or get your attention in the middle of the night. And whatever the reason, it is up to you to distinguish between things that really do require quick action, or can easily wait until morning (and preferably, in the morning AFTER you get to the office). You decide – don’t let those 24/7 office connections push you around!
Manage Your Workload More Carefully
The stress of our hyper-connected offices is magnified by every-increasing workloads. Once employees have allowed work-related texts, emails and social media messages to seep into their personal time, it becomes easy to view those hours as extended “work” time, to be used to catch up on unfinished office business. Don’t let that cause you to take on unrealistic amounts of work as a result. Make sure you allow yourself to say “no” from time to time, when the projects already on your plate have you maxed out. It’s not easy, but it’s fair – and it’s far better than taking on too much, and then being late, or delivering less than your best work in order to meet a deadline.
Use Technologies That Get You Out Of The Office at 5 P.M
While it is largely new technologies that have brought about the “24/7” workday, there are others that can help you control it. One way to keep things manageable is to employ new technologies that can take over many of the responsibilities that push your office duties into personal time. It’s especially helpful when many of those responsibilities are in areas not directly related to your core business.
For example, payroll and human resources systems and software can accomplish many such chores quickly, and with little hands-on involvement. For things like printing projects (including collateral materials and all manner of business forms) and promotional products, our own Corporate Kiosk can provide a huge assist. It allows you to spend almost no time finding vendors, getting estimates, assessing credentials, preparing materials and a hundred other duties; all that work is handled automatically, according to parameters you establish up front. The benefits in efficiency (and time saved) are off the charts.
Set A Fixed Time To Unplug – and Just Do It!
One last suggestion, don’t let this slip into being a “when I can” or an “I really ought to try that” thing. Make it real by putting a time limit on it. If you can only commit to unplugging for an hour, start there. Maybe you can even make it your lunch hour – if you can avoid those work-through-lunch meetings that sap any possibility of giving your brain a real break.
Or, try it for one day a week: maybe a “Screen-less Saturday” or a “Let’s Play in the Sunday.” And you can also choose to make your vacation an opportunity for a “digital detox.” Assigning a fixed time to it will help you follow through, and perhaps make it a regular part of your routine.
A Final Plug For Unplugging…
I know it’s still not easy, but there’s no question it’s a good thing to do. That’s why so many successful entrepreneurs and executives are doing it and I”ll tell you more about that in a future post.
If you’re still a bit unsure of how to get a better work-life balance with technology, check out my posts on #MindfulTech and how our Corporate Kiosk can increase efficiencies in your print supply chain and promotional product management. My #MindfulTech post and our Corporate Kiosk just might be able to give you some extra motivation to get back into that reasonable work-life balance.