In modern life, it’s increasingly difficult to switch off from work. Technology streamlines life and opens up new opportunities but it doesn’t reduce our workloads.
Now, many employees find it difficult to switch off when emails continue to pop up on their smartphone. The knock on effect here is less time spent with family.
How do you stop this trend and embrace some much needed downtime? We’ve got some handy tips for you so you won’t let work take priority over spending time with family:
1. Turn your devices off
The pressure on modern employees is enormous, which makes it tempting to continue working long after your 5pm finish. Of course, most staff aren’t paid for this overtime.
There’s even a new phenomenon called “leavism”. This is where employees take holiday time to catch up on their backlog of work, rather than relax.
Constantly working is a drain on your health. You simply need time off to recover. It’ll make you more effective at work too. So once you get back home, turn your devices off. Get away from work and catch up with your family, indulge in a few hobbies, and relax.
This may prove difficult if you’re used to firing off emails at 11:30 pm. So condition yourself gradually to make this marked shift. It should become part of your routine.
Over the course of a few weeks, you’ll lapse into more family-friendly activities. It all starts with hitting the off button – or, at the very least, your “do not disturb” feature.
2. Request flexible work time
Changing your work hours can have an enormous effect. You may want to start earlier or later, for instance.
Have a word with your manager to see if this is possible. It can open up new opportunities to ensure you can spend more time with your loved ones.
3. Take a new career route
If it’s not possible for new working hours, then a change of career path could open up new opportunities.
There are endless new opportunities available for you. Actively hunting for new roles can open up a new world for you. After all, many modern businesses are in tune with a sound work life balance. Your next step could lead to a better job, plus more time to spend with your family.
But how do you go about a career change?Here’s a guide for when you have no idea how to change career:
4. Work remotely
Of course, you could improve your work life balance drastically with a remote worker role. Not every career route is open to this. But if your industry is, then you could request this opportunity with your current employer.
You can check out these 17 Types of Online Work at Home Jobs that Really Pay Off.
5. Relax before heading home
Arriving home from work feeling stressed out and unhappy can only have negative results on your family. As such, relax properly before you return home.
Take a trip to the gym, for instance, or take a walk around your local area. Do some shopping. Pick up a book you want to read. Buy a present for the kids.
Effectively switching off before you get back can turn your mind off from work. The result is quality time with your family, rather than downtime sabotaged through work stresses.
6. Make Friday a special night
For many employees, Friday night signals the end of the week. It’s a date to look forward to and cherish. So turn it into an ultra-special occasion — one that you can look forward to throughout the week.
If you add several relaxation activities to your calendar each week, make sure Friday night is a priority. It’s a chance to celebrate the weekend. And you can start that off with some family activities — a film night, for example, or a meal out. That sets the scene for your weekend.
7. Talk about something other than work
If your life revolves around work and you struggle to have conversations about anything other than work, then you can broaden your conversational horizons.
I’m not on about gossiping of course, but little instances that can shift talk away from something other than what’s going on at the office.
You can make steps in your professional life to network with people beyond asking about their work. Talk to your colleagues about their family life, for example, to find common ground. Try these tips on How to Talk to People When You Have Nothing to Say to add more meaning to your conversations at work.
8. Reduce your stress levels
Stress has an adverse affect on anyone. Over time, it can sap your morale and leave you feel negative. Combatting it with positive activities can ensure your time off with your family is properly spent.
Yoga is one such example but there are plenty of other options. Just take a look at these 8 simple relaxation techniques to help reduce stress.
As you’d expect, there are also plenty of calming apps to help you along. Headspace is a lea ding example – check out the video below. It’s free and offers tips on meditation to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Or there’s Calm , which offers meditative sound effects and sleep stories. Also, it’s free!
9. View busyness as bad
It’s something of an intellectual pursuit in modern business. Prove to others you can hack an enormous workload. This is an outlook championed by the likes of Elon Musk. We all see it in the news as defining what “success” is.
But no matter how brilliant you are, rest is essential. In fact, if you’re overburdened with work, then your productivity will drop. Your mental health will also take a battering.
There’s a school of thought that also suggests busyness is bad for business. In fact, there’s now a backlash against it. In Scientific American’s article Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, it’s argued:
“Throughout history people have intuited that such puritanical devotion to perpetual busyness does not in fact translate to greater productivity and is not particularly healthy. What if the brain requires substantial downtime to remain industrious and generate its most innovative ideas?
Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future. Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self. most innovative ideas?”
10. And finally… have more fun
Focus on making sure fun becomes an integral part of your life. Instead of becoming bogged down in stress and work commitments, find new opportunities to focus on.
You can start by taking a look at making parenting easier. This can ease the pressures you face alongside your job. If you’re bossing parenting, then you’ll also head into work feeling confident and ready to take on your latest projects.
But you can also advance your relationships with fun family activities. As mentioned above, you can turn your focus towards making weekends as fun as possible. This list of 53 fun things for the weekend is another step in the right direction.
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.