Today’s world is a hectic place to be in. We work long hours, have tight deadlines to meet and people (both good and bad) to please. With all the technology available today, hitting us with it’s sharp reach-ability it’s rare that we can just come home, put our feet up and forget work. Smartphones, tablets, computers and all the other jazz put us within reach all the time. It can get daunting. How many of us can resist checking our emails when at home?
It’s important that we have boundaries by setting some limits whenever possible. We have to protect our space. Otherwise we become slaves not only to our work but to the technology. And you don’t want to go down that patch. Why? Because Terminator II: Judgment Day, that’s why. You’ve seen the movie, it gets ugly. And that’s before Facebook or Google even existed (I think).
So back to the point. Start setting boundaries. It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated. If your boss doesn’t like the fact that you’re harder to reach, ask if you can start bringing your home life to work more often. It always seems that work can invade home but private life (such as bringing kids to work) can’t come to work. Don’t let your work rule your life, find a balance.
I’ll give you couple of ideas how I’ve set boundaries between home and work. But I also like to be honest with my readers (hi, mum!) and will admit that lately I’ve been slipping and bending the rules that I’ve set for myself. That’s why this post acts as a good accountability for myself as well.
1. At night set a time after which you will not check your phone, email or Facebook. If you are used to falling asleep with a phone in your hand at midnight, don’t try to stop using your phone at 8pm. It won’t work, the change is too drastic. Rather start with something more manageable such as 11pm and build from there. This is unless you are waiting for a super important call (it will be a call, people with super important agendas will call, not text).
Even then, how important can it be at that time of the night?
My limit is 9pm on Monday to Thursday and usually earlier between Friday and Sunday. I could make this even earlier such as 8pm. Work in progress I guess.
2. If Facebook is dominating your life remove it from your phone. This is a ballsy move by any stretch of an imagination. If you manage to do it, I have the utmost respect for your kind. I tried but I need it for work while sitting on the train going home from work. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
3. Don’t check email or Facebook on Sundays. This is where I’ve been slipping the most lately. Focus on giving all your attention to your significant other, your kids, friends, whatever. See a movie, cook food, or just hangout but don’t get clued to your phone/tablet/computer.
Spend a day with those that are physically around you, not with those in the cyber world. It’s weird, I know. Doing this will make a huge impact on your day. You are fully present with what’s happening around you. In real life.
You can also pick any other day of the week for this. If you know how to do this on Mondays, call me.
4. Remove the email client from your phone. Using email in smartphones is highly impractical and a complete time suck. You will spend less time in your inbox when writing on a proper keyboard, therefore leaving more time to do things that really matter. Or when was the last time you wrote a proper email using the small keys on the screen?
I know it will feel like you are coming to terms with the dark side of the moon but persevere young Skywalker, persevere. You will have your reward.
Now that you’ve removed some of the distractions that were adding constant stress to your life it’s time to de-stress even more with these following steps.
1. Do a morning journal. Relax, you don’t have to get all Dostoevsky with your writing. The idea is to get your thoughts from your head to the paper. The effect this will have will surprise you. In a way the pen and a paper acts as a cheap psychologist for you. Once you have your worries or ideas on a paper in-front of you they don’t usually seem as daunting. Some of your worries might even seem ridiculous once you read them. Either way, the purpose of journaling is to get your thoughts out of your head.
2. Find a hobby that has nothing to do with your work. This could be anything. I am still trying desperately to learn to play guitar. (update June 2016 – I am winning.) I’ve been slacking lately but I can tell it has a calming effect on me as soon as I pick a couple of cords. Sometimes it’s not even about learning but just to play few cords, the sounds is (usually) soothing itself.
Whatever it is, find something that works for you.
3. Meditate. I am still a beginner with this but even ten minutes in the morning makes a difference. Start easy. I’ve written about it in the past in here.
4. Write in a gratitude journal at the end of the day. Again, this doesn’t have to be anything too extravagant. Just write down a couple of things you are grateful for. It makes a difference to not have your brain cells filled with negative thoughts when falling a sleep. You’ll wake up happier in the morning. All rainbows. And stuff.
Remember that you don’t have to do all these things at once. Actually it is preferable if you wouldn’t. Instead pick the one that is the easiest for you to do and focus on getting good at it. Once you’ve got it down solid, pick another. It just like building any other habit: one by one. The biggest thing is that you don’t have to make these habits perfect. You just have to keep doing them. Keep showing up.