It is an understatement to say that Americans today are more connected that ever. But, does this constant availability rob the modern worker of a life away from work? Many people say yes. The recent New York Time’s article on the culture of e-commerce giant, Amazon, where as one employee referred to as a place where “Overachievers go to feel bad about themselves” has ignited more conversations on balancing work and life.
The prevalence of smartphones and wi-fi everywhere allows more flexibility on where one can work, but it also gives workers no excuse for not answering an email after hours, during vacation, or weekends. The 40-hour workweek is slowly becoming a myth. A Gallup poll taken in 2014 showed that 50% of salaried workers actually work 50 plus hours each week. While you might think this is a win for productivity it is actually having the inverse effect. The lack of balance is creating disgruntled, tired, and stressed out workers. Another Gallup poll found that 70% of employees are actively disengaged in the workplace, which means there are only 30% of workers helping to work to push organizations forward. When Henry Ford first introduced the concept of the 40-hour workweek, it was not an arbitrary number, but actually a well calculated amount created to give workers time to spend away from work with their families and loved ones.
So, how do you put boundaries and take back your time away from the office?
Turn your cell phone OFF – We are all guilty of this, but if we think back I am sure we can recall a time when we did not have a phone stuck to us at all times. Companies were able to run, people were able to connect and life went on. It is OK to turn your phone off. Try having a no cell phone rule after 7 PM. Use the time to connect with your family, play a game, or read a book. It might feel strange at first but the time away from your phone will help your sanity and your eyesight and your sleep!
Take your Vacation – Did you know that last year American’s lost $52.4 BILLION dollars of vacation time? The US already has a small amount of time off compared to other countries so make those days off count. Do not waste them checking your work e-mail or even worse by “working from home” on your day off. Time away from the office, even if it is an afternoon working in your garden or to check out that new lunch spot down the street. Stepping away from the office is important for your wellbeing and it is your time, so take it!
Think of the Big Picture- If you find yourself feeling guilty or stressed about putting off an e-mail reply until the next morning or taking a long weekend, take a deep breath and ask yourself “Will this stress matter a year from now? Even a month from now?” We only have one life and that life is bigger than missing a meeting or answering a client e-mail 10 minutes after it appears in your inbox. If you are being pressured to always be on, maybe it’s a good idea to have a bigger conversation about what you want out of life. If you need more help making a career or life change, career and life coaching can help. Life Coaching can help you recognize what is most important to you and give you steps to reprioritize to reach your goal. Contact MindBuilders today to get started.
About Deborah:Deborah Bruno is President and Founder of Mindbuilders, Inc a company that specializes in building healthy minds in both individuals and organizations. As a coach and licensed psychotherapist Deborah has assisted thousands of people improve their effectiveness both personally and professionally. Deborah is a native New Yorker who has lived in Miami since 1999.