Working in the digital age makes it hard and sometimes impossible to detach
completely from work once you leave the office. How can we learn the importance
of taking care of ourselves, limiting stress and nurturing our mental
health, if we are guilty of blurring the lines between work and our personal
lives and personal time.
France created a law that became effective January 1, 2017, in which companies
with more than 50 workers must guarantee employees a “right to disconnect”
from their emails outside office hours in the hope of reducing stress
and optimizing personal time. Japan, Germany, Spain and South Korea have
launched similar rules or campaigns for work-life balance.
The ability to detach from work outside of the office likely won’t
happen overnight. Here are some tips to help you learn to unplug and leave
your work at work:
Unplug. If your work day never seems to end, turn your phone and laptop off after
a specific time. Unless you are on-call, designate certain times or events,
such as dinner with your family or your child’s sports games, as
a time when you will not take out your phone. Don’t keep your phone
on your nightstand so that you do not feel compelled to check email before
bed or in the middle of the night, or even first thing in the morning.
Exercise. Exercise often becomes the first thing we push aside when we have too
many responsibilities to balance. Don’t let exercise fall by the
wayside. Designate time and hold yourself accountable. If appointments
with a personal trainer or registering and paying for classes will help
hold you accountable more so than designating gym time on your own, make
Meditate. Set aside ten minutes in the morning, in the middle of your work day or
at night to meditate and clear your mind. There are plenty of meditation
apps for your smart phone, such as Headspace, that make meditation easy
and convenient. Over time, your mind will adjust to those moments of meditation
and your body will feel more relaxed afterward.
Wait. Delay sending emails until the morning. If you feel a positive way to start
your day is to take care of some emails the night before, try drafting
your email and then setting them to be sent out the following morning.
That way, you won’t be opening the door to a flood of reply emails at night.
Restrict. Limit the things that waste your time. It’s so easy to find yourself
mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or your Twitter feed for longer
amounts of time than you realize. Be real with yourself and acknowledge
whether that is a productive use of your time or if it’s something
you could live without. Compare it to the things you could be doing otherwise,
such as calling up a family member or old friend to catch up.
Unwind. Find a hobby. If time permits – even if it’s one hour a week
– find something that you can focus on and grow from that doesn’t
involve work. Whether it be volunteering, practicing an instrument, participating
in a sports team, or joining a book club, find something that fulfills
you outside of the work place and that you can call your own.