Today, we're more hustle-minded than ever before. We're working longer hours, celebrating the 'no sleep' lifestyle, and admiring those who pull off hundred-hour work weeks. On top of that, with email, text, Slack and more, our smartphones are keeping us attached to our jobs 24/7.
This lifestyle continues to be trendy despite research linking longer working hours with depression, heart disease, and more. That's not even counting the toll that constant 'work mode' takes on your relationships.
Detaching yourself from work isn't easy. It's something I struggle, too. Here are six good places to start:
1. Use technology to distance yourself from technology.
Smartphones, while incredible tools, are the 'root of all evil' when it comes to never detaching from work. Yet, there are ways we can use technology to keep of our lives more balanced during off hours.
To start, try using tools like AppDetox, which allow you to create your own rules and boundaries for app usage on your device. If you'd like to detach the old-fashioned way, then turn off notifications for your Gmail app (or whichever service you use) within your phone settings the moment you step outside the office.
2. Change your company culture.
If you're in a position of authority at your organization, begin a trend of not sending emails at midnight on Tuesdays. If you really do have to send an email that late, use a tool like Boomerang to pre-schedule the message to be sent out the following morning. This will reinforce the concept of work-life balance in your company from the top-down.
Company culture trickles down from the executives. If you're never detached from work life, your employees won't be either. They'll think working non-stop is the gold standard, and might eventually burn out.
3. Create mental boundaries.
Our brains are wired to make connections, shortcuts and associations with places, people, situations and other stimuli.
Don't shy away from human psychology, use it to your advantage.
Don't mix work life with your home life. Once you step inside your home, either don't work at all or set aside specific rooms where work is permitted. This will enable you to associate intimate places like the living room, bedroom, and dining room table as areas for decompressing and interacting with loved ones, not work.
Don't worry, remote workers, I haven't left you out.
If you work remotely, you can still set boundaries in your home. Consider only doing work inside your office or in a particular room. If you have the financial resources to do so, take it a step further and set aside particular devices for work and others for play. For example, make your laptop our 'work device' and your tablet your 'home device' where you get to watch Game of Thrones and have fun.
4. When you're with work friends, don't just talk about work.
Keep work at work. If you always hang out with coworkers during off hours, then talk about things other than work. Find your common interests. You're bound to have some. Sports, dating troubles, kids, TV shows, anything.
By constantly talking about work outside of your workspace, your mental boundaries between work life and home life may start to decay.
5. Stop overthinking things.
You might not believe me when I say this, but it's probably okay if you don't reply to your manager's email within five minutes on a Sunday. It's probably okay if you turn your email notifications off after 7 p.m. on weekdays. It's probably okay if you don't answer any messages during your vacation.
If your boss or manager is constantly berating you with emails and texts during obscene hours of the day expecting you to respond immediately, well, you should start looking for other jobs. Plain and simple.
You're not going to change the world or your future of your company at 1am on a Wednesday. The rest of the world is sleeping, and you should be too.
6. Have others who hold you accountable.
Consider having someone who regularly checks in and holds you accountable for sticking to your detachment goals. This could be a friend, significant other, spouse, child or parent.
Detaching yourself from the workplace can be an extremely difficult thing to accomplish, so having support along the way to steer you in the right direction could prove extremely effective. It works for gym buddies, so why not for detaching from your job?
Lastly, consider making it public knowledge that you're trying to improve your work-life balance. This way, your friends and family can also hold you accountable, making it even harder to not stay true to your word.