In today's "always on" work culture, how can people de-stress and avoid burnout? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
A conducted at Harvard Business School found workplace stress is a significant contributor to national health costs, and that the psychological and physical issues of burned-out workers cost an estimated $125 to $190 billion a year in U.S. healthcare spending. Crazy, but this is the work culture surrounding us. What to do?
I don't think digital detox is feasible for most of us. Rather than completely disconnect from all devices - which is both unrealistic and unreasonable - each of us needs to find habits to fit our unique lifestyles. Let's be honest - going cold turkey and unplugging all devices is not something most of us are going to do, so think about what's really needed, and where you can downscale. It's impossible to stay on top of every device and app 24/7. Instead, I recommend using one device (phone or laptop, but not both) and focusing on that one device during the workday. You aren't being served well by receiving the same notification in multiple places - it's just annoying and distracting. Free yourself from overwhelm by taking control of your devices and your notifications.
It's often an unstated assumption that your work requires you to be available and responsive all the time - but that's not actually the case. This is just a pervasive, by-default cultural norm that is commonplace because it's generally never discussed or decided upon. Reality is that nobody wants to be beholden to work or work-comms every minute of every day. Instead, I encourage you to establish guidelines within your workgroup and set expectations on when team members are supposed to be online and available. 99% of the time it won't be 24/7. Yay!
Constant notifications and pings from your teammates, social feeds, and email can create a sense that you need to be "always on". Opting out of notifications breaks a precedent that we need to constantly be available and gives ourselves permission to be more proactive and less reactive. I strongly suggest turning off all but the most critical notifications - whether from a specific person or related to a particular project. You'll find your notification distraction and overwhelm will go WAY down. I check my phone when it's good for me, rather than when someone else sets my schedule, which is what you're letting others do when you have all your notifications turned on. Instead, get empowered, use notifications selectively, and build habits that create a sense of freedom by cutting (or at least lengthening) the cord to your devices.
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