Houston, we have a problem.

It's our own work addiction, our desire for success, our tendency to stay connected at all times of the day. It's ruining relationships, breaking up families, and causing a lot of other problems. I know of at least one person who is getting a divorce literally because of working too many hours and not nurturing a marriage. No one ever sees these addicts because they are always looking at a phone, checking emails, and making calls.

Is that you? It's time to get serious about the problem.

This 30-day challenge is meant to be pretty tough. I will say that you might not even get through the entire period, because honestly most people don't. It will require some serious dedication. You will have to fend off the wolves, shut down your connections, and stop checking Twitter.

And yet, the rewards! People will notice you are more available, more present--more engaged. It will make a huge impact on your life and everyone around you. I'm hoping if you do this challenge, you will find that it works a bit like the best diets--the ones that turn into a healthy eating lifestyle for years or decades.

Work smarter, become more efficient with your time. You can do it!

Here's what to do. Will you start on August 1 of 2018? And go the entire 30-day period? If you do, let's compare notes and see what happens when you have more free time.

1. Stop working at 5PM each day no matter what

The biggest step and the one that will have the most dramatic impact is to quit working at 5PM each day no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT! No calls, no texts with the boss, no social media activity--you are agreeing to sign off at 5PM and focus on other things. Let everyone know--this is serious and you are not going to slip. You are taking radical steps. No working dinners, no late-night strategy sessions. You're logging off.

2. When your phone battery dies, you're done

Phones last more than eight hours these days, but it does depend on which model you have, how you use it, and if you charge up during the day. Here's the thing. Your number one distraction by far is that little plastic gizmo. Once it dies for the day, decide to wait and recharge in the morning. Even if it's before 5PM, who cares? Switch to a laptop. Let calls go to voicemail. Become a radical "no phone after it dies" person.

3. Configure your router to disable the Internet at 5PM each work day

Most routers have a setting these days for parental control. We're going to use that to our advantage. Check with your manufacturer, but in most cases you can configure a time of day setting so that the Internet shuts off between, say, 5PM and 6AM the next morning. (Or buy a router that has that feature that works in the office and at home.) Why bother when you agreed to quit work at 5PM for 30 days and you don't have a phone? Because we're all a little squirmy. We find workarounds. Block them before you ever get started.

4. No email on weekends...ever

Next to your phone, email is a major temptation after the day is over. I should know. I tend to check for new messages right before bed...and after dinner...and on walks. In this challenge you agree to stop checking email after work but also on weekends. No excuses! Let everyone know emails are off limits.

5. Tell 10 friends you are doing the challenge

Accountability is incredibly important. Identify 10 friends or family members, and let them know you are quitting work at 5PM, not answering email at all on weekends, and taking other steps to deal with the imbalance between your work and life. Ask them to check in with you once in a while to see how you're doing, just not after 5PM and not on weekends.

6. Pause your social media accounts

I said we're getting radical here for 30 days. Social media accounts work like a drug. We keep checking them because we think there will be a comment or like that makes us look better, and there's a dopamine hit in the brain when we get that feedback. At the start of this challenge on August 1 (starting this coming Wednesday), let everyone know you are pausing your social activity. No posts, no tweets...nothing. It's a risk for some, but it's also only 30 days of non-activity. You'll survive. You'll be fine.

And that's it. Do all six of these challenges. Start on August 1. Stick with it the whole time, And then see how it makes a difference in your relationships with friends and family.

Published on: Jul 30, 2018