Knowing when to disconnect, shut it off, unplug, or walk away from work is one of the essential keys to work/life balance for harried and overworked people.
When was the last time you completely left work behind? How frequently do you take work home, check e-mail or voice mail from home, or take your work with you on vacation? Do you feel you can’t afford to not do these things? What’s the real impact on your personal sense of balance when you are consistently making work your top priority?
The work many of us do is extremely demanding of both our time and energy. In many cases, you may allow the intrusion and justify the cost on a personal level for real or anticipated gains on the career level. But way too often, we’re sacrificing family time, exercise, or much-needed personal time without making conscious choices about the implications and trade-offs.
Many of us feel stressed and overworked because we are overconnected. As a result of the onslaught of information, along with the never-ending ways that people can access us anytime of the day or night, we feel perpetually connected to our work. Think about the number of technology resources you now use that were not commonplace just a few years ago. Cell phones, pagers, e-mail, instant messaging, online chats, voice mail, call forwarding, wireless Internet pagers…. the list just keeps growing. How much is enough of these technology tools and the obsessive connection to our work?! And how do we begin to reestablish those important boundaries between our work and our personal lives?
In our book, "Dot Calm: The Search for Sanity in a Wired World," we provide a wealth of “how to” tips for managing the work-life challenge:
The first step: JUST SAY NO!—and draw clear boundaries. This takes on multiple forms:
Obviously, some intrusions of work into personal life are unavoidable, depending upon the nature of your work. If you manage a nuclear power plant, are a member of an organ transplant team, or have on-call responsibilities as part of your job, then some intrusions go with the territory. However, more often than not, we let work seep into our personal lives even when there’s not a bonafide emergency or time-urgent crisis. We’ve become so accustomed to the ever-presence of our work that we’ve unconsciously allowed further intrusions that have, in many cases, become unreasonable.
Our research involved hundreds of interviews and surveys to learn how busy people are achieving balance and integrating overwork solutions into the lives. There are five key solutions that are working for these people, some of whom work long hours, receive over 300 e-mail each day, travel extensively, and have families they treasure. Here are a few specific steps you can take for each of these solutions:
1. PRIORITIZE AND ORGANIZE
2. TAKE DAILY “TIME-OUTS”
3. TAKE MINI SABBATICALS.
4. NURTURE THE SOUL AND MIND.
5. NOURISH THE BODY.