In a constantly connected world, work/life balance seems like a pipe dream. Some even say it’s a myth since, for many, work is their life and vice versa. But, no matter who we are or how much we love our work, we still need to take time, occasionally, to step back, unplug, and disconnect. Why? Because, science. Research has shown that a constant connection to our screens and work can affect the way we sleep, how much exercise we get, and even our overall happiness.
So, even if you live and breathe your work (that’s ok, we do too!) don’t forget to give yourself a little break, step away from your screens and use these tips to take a break once in awhile.
Use an Alarm Clock
We all know we shouldn’t sleep next to our phones, but we’ve all countered this with, “But it’s my alarm clock!” The problem is, when your phone is right next to you at night, you’re more likely to be disturbed by notifications or play on it until you fall asleep. While you can use the “Do Not Disturb” feature, if it’s there, the temptation is there.
Try going old school and using an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. Sure, the sound might make you want to punch something, but hey, at least you’ll be awake. Plug your phone in across the room and spend your time in bed shutting down your brain, resting and rejuvenating.
Once your phone is across the room, you won’t be able to check it before you even get out of bed. Perfect. Choose one task to do before jumping into a deluge of emails and Facebook notifications. Give yourself a goal. For example, have one cup of coffee before you check your phone or computer. You’re probably useless before your first cup anyway (we are!) so why not wait until your brain has the chance to wake up before you throw yourself into responses?
Ditch the Power Cord
Let’s be honest, we know you’re going to take your work home. One of our core values, “We work harder than the rest,” means that sometimes, we work at home. When problems arise, no matter what time, we solve them. But this doesn’t mean we need to be working 24/7. One of our employees has instituted a power cord rule in her house. She doesn’t take her computer cord home with her and only works until her computer dies. This doesn’t mean she’s not available if something hits the fan, but it gives her boundaries and a clear stopping point. If this isn’t the right technique for you, maybe try a time limit or an event that triggers a stopping point (like your favorite show or when your spouse gets home from work). Set boundaries that work for your lifestyle, but make sure to set them.
Turn off Notifications (When Working)
Have you ever noticed how many different ways there are to get distracted from your work? Right now, you might be reading this on your computer while your phone sits next to you. If you get a text, it might come through on your computer, or your phone might buzz with a news alert. Our brains are pulled in so many different directions throughout the day, that simply focusing on one task and one device can feel like a vacation. Whether at work or at home, spend some time doing some focused work. Turn off all notifications and distractions for one hour while you write that article, balance that spreadsheet or return emails. This might not be something you can do all day, but designated do not disturb time can help your brain refocus and give you a break from multiple screens.
We know that everyone is different. What works for one person won’t work for another and if you’re a business owner some of these tips might seem downright impossible. We get it. The point is, find some time for you. Find a way to turn off the screens and unplug. If that means going for a 10-minute walk without your phone, do it. If that means sipping your coffee in a dark closet for five minutes, do it. It might be too late for us, but you can still save your sanity.