With the power to fit our workday into our pocket and the unrelenting rise of “always on” work culture, it's no wonder so many people struggle with work life balance.
Some jobs' nature has very clear lines between when you’re “on” and when you’re “off”, while in others the lines are blurred, or potentially nonexistent. That makes not being distracted by work, especially mentally, a true challenge.
This can lead to sitting at dinner while your children tell a story about their day, but instead of hearing them, you’re wondering whether an email from your boss came through. It can mean exchanging the time you could have spent on sleep, exercise, or talking with your spouse glued to your laptop. And it can look like keeping your work life in order, while your finances or home are a mess because you don’t take time to pay bills, buy groceries, plan for retirement, set a personal investment, or tidy up.
However, what is possible can vary depending on your particular job, work culture, and coworkers. But in most cases, you can reduce how distracted you feel by work during times when you’re not actually working.
After 10 years' experience in several industries, and with the new working style we're adapting to, due to the COVID-19 crisis, I encourage you to challenge yourself to gradually implement these changes and see how much you can leave your work at work, both physically and mentally, during these difficult times.
Tip 1: Define “After Working Hours”
For tech people especially, we're working in an environment with flexible hours, you’ll need to think through when you want to be on and off the clock. If your employer has a certain number of hours that you’re expected to work each week, start by seeing how to fit those hours around your fixed personal commitments, like spending time with your kids at home or extracurricular activities, watch an online course, or attending an E-hangout you really enjoy. When do you need to start and stop to put in the proper work time?
On the other hand, if your company doesn’t have a specific amount of time that you need to work — say, you freelance or have a results-only work environment — but your job still takes over almost all of your waking hours, take the reverse approach. Think through how many hours you want for activities like sleep, exercise, family, friends, cleaning, finances, etc. Then see how much time you need to reserve on a daily and weekly basis to fit in those personal priorities. That then defines the parameters of when you want to be “off hours.”
Tip 2: Reduce Brain Fog And Increase Mental Clarity
Make sure you have mental clarity on what needs to get done and when you will complete it. This includes having a place where you write down the many tasks that you need to do, whether that’s in a notebook, a task management app, a project management system, or in your calendar.
In engineering jobs, it is impossible to switch off after working hours. There are always, at the job, things leftover and not resolved, things need more thinking, things need developments, etc.
To really switch off after working hours is not easy, for the engineer, but is only possible, just write down a note when the thinking imparts, and enjoy whatever you’re doing. Such notes shall relieve you of being distracted and busy minded most of the time.
Then once you have this list, plan out your work. That could mean setting aside time in your schedule to work on a report in advance, putting time in your calendar to prep for your next day’s meetings, or just plotting out specific hours that you will reserve for getting your own work done versus attending meetings or responding to other people’s requests. This planning reduces the anxiety that something will fall through the cracks or that you’ll miss a deadline.
The final part of increasing your mental clarity is to have an end-of-workday wrap-up. During this time, look over your daily to-do list and calendar to make sure that everything that absolutely must get done — specifically, those tasks that had a hard deadline — were completed.
Tip 3: Communicate Your Availability
In some job situations, you can set a definite after-hours boundary like, after 6 pm, I’m offline. But in other situations, the lines are much blurrier.
For those in situations where you can have a clear dividing line between work and home, I would encourage you to directly communicate that with your colleagues. For example, you might say, “I typically leave/finish work at 7 pm, so if you contact me after that time, you can expect to hear back from me sometime after 11 am the next business day.” Or in some cases your actions can simply set that tone. If they never hear from you between 6 pm and 9 am, that will set the expectation that you’re not available.
But for others, who have jobs that require more constant connectivity, mostly managerial levels, you may want to set some guidelines to control how people reach you, thereby reducing unwanted interruptions. For example, you could say, “It’s fine to text me during the day with questions, but after 7 pm, please send me an email instead of a text unless the situation is truly urgent.” Similarly, if you have a very flexible schedule where you take extended breaks during the day for things like going to the gym or picking your kids up, encourage people to reach out to you in specific, preferred ways that you establish. For example, “There are some times during the day when I may be away from my computer. If you need a fast response, call or text me.” In these scenarios, you’ll know that only the most important work will take you away from your personal or family obligations.
Tip 4: Get Work Done “Only” at Work
For many, they perceive “real work” as something they reserve for post-8 or 9 pm, after everyone else has left the office/left all working channels or for after they’ve tucked their kids in bed for the night. People have this mindset because this time can seem like the few precious hours where no one is dropping by your office or asking you for anything immediately. But if you want to stop feeling distracted by work after hours, you need to actually do your work during the day.
And if you must do some work outside of your standard days, make sure that you time-box it. For example; will work from 8-9 pm tonight then stop. Or, I’ll put in three hours on Saturday from 1-4 pm, but then I won’t think about work before or after. It’s much better to designate a time and stick with it than it is to think about work all night or all weekend and do nothing.
Awareness of how you’re working and an understanding of the values that support work-life balance are key, we need a mental break to do our best work, and taking time for ourselves — without the distraction of work — can help us become our best selves. I can’t guarantee that thoughts about work will never cross your mind, but with these four steps, you can reduce how much you’re distracted by work after its hours.
The more we’re able to set and stick to proper boundaries to our workday and counteract the distractions, multitasking, and communication overload that takes away our productive time, the more we’ll be able to find balance, stay healthier and happy, and get more done.specially in a global setup where everyone needs to work across different time zones. I guess we all have to figure out what works for us and stick to it.
Many books talk about how you can balance you day while being productive.
And ending with some quotes:
“You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be successful. It’s natural to look back and mythologize the long nights and manic moments of genius, but success isn’t about working hard, it’s about working smart.” ―Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab
“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”
―Heather Schuck, The Working Mom Manifesto
“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” ―Hillary Clinton
“Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” ―First Lady Michelle Obama
“I spend most of my time thinking about how to connect the world and serve our community better, but a lot of that time isn’t in our office or meeting with people or doing what you’d call real work. I take a lot of time just to read and think about things by myself.”
We at Rubikal helps our Engineers to life their lives while being productive at work, and that is a key of success for doing work the right way.
Ready to work with us?
We have a full house of talents, who are capable to build your dream application. Rubikal can help from an idea phase to a scaling solution that serve millions of users. Reach out to us Here
Book a meeting with us
Learn more about us here Rubikal.com
Engineer and up to the challenge, check out our latest job opening here