Standing Up For Your Free Time (And Why You’re Your Worst Enemy)
Feeling shackled by hyperconnectivity? These tips will help you stand up for your free time
Buzz buzz! Another email has arrived. Even though your phone’s on silent, you grab it and sneak a peek. It’s 8 p.m. and you have finally sat down for dinner.
Pavlov was right — ring a bell and you’ll salivate. Or in this case, click on the new message and you’ll start working again. That’s what you’ve trained yourself to do.
Company-issued smartphones and laptops have made it is easier than ever to be connected to work. Your inbox lies inches away from your digital social life — Facebook, Twitter — and with a click or tap of the thumb, you’ve re-entered the world of work, answering client emails or updating your boss on your forthcoming presentation. Hyperconnectivity is the norm.
For some, this is just fine and even preferable. They love what they do and answering emails after hours is like chatting with old friends. A Gallup poll reports that 79 percent of full-time U.S. workers feel positive about their ability to work remotely using computers, tablets and smartphones after their normal work hours are over. Millennials are the age group most likely to clock back in.
But for others, it’s a fast lane to Stressville. In the same study, almost half of respondents who reported frequently checking email after work hours experienced significantly more stress than those who reported no remote work time.
“Quickly” checking email turns into an hour of work or more. Before you know it, it’s time to collapse into bed and start the fun all over again tomorrow.
Are you in the camp that feels shackled by hyperconnectivity? Here are some tips to help you stand up for your free time.
Make it your job to not work after hours
Think opposite of Nike. Don’t do it.
Your job after work is to enjoy your life, not be consumed with work in a different place and feel stressed. The choice is yours, not the company’s. If they’re not paying you for being on call 24/7, don’t be on call 24/7.
Set rules for yourself once you get home and stick to them. Try — *gasp* — turning off your phone and laptop during dinner, before bed or whatever works for you.
Just be sure not to miss your Words with Friends notifications.
Before you disappear, make it clear
It’s funny. We turn on vacation auto-replies if we’re out a day but we don’t do it when we leave work. Shouldn’t we? It’s the same concept: we’re not willing to reply on our time off but we want people to know when we’ll be available again.
Don’t hesitate to tell co-workers and clients when you are and are not available so they’re not left in the dark.
Right now Germany is actually considering issuing a ban on sending after-hours work emails, with companies such as Volkswagen and BMW already implementing similar policies.
Don’t feed the pigeons
Think of replying to an email after hours as feeding pigeons. If you toss one piece of bread, you’re probably going to have to toss a few more. Soon you’re feeding the whole flock. What pigeon only wants a quick taste?
It’s nice to be needed but nicer to be happy. Stand up for your free time. No one will value it more than you.
Monster Wants to Know: Is hyperconnectivity a problem? Does it work or not work for you? Share with us in the comment section.