It’s 10:30 on Monday night. I worked 9-5, picked up dinner on the way home, played a game of hide and seek, gave my daughter a bath, and put her to bed. Since she fell asleep, I have been on my laptop doing work for the past 2 hours. I should be relaxing from my long day, watching a show, reading a book, or maybe even practicing a mindfulness meditation. Unfortunately, the pressure to get things done pushed me into working more.
As a business owner, it makes sense that I would want to make sure that I get everything done. However, entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who let work cut into their personal time. Many people are lured into doing work in their free time. With technology in the palms of our hands, it’s so easy to work even when we’re not working.
The question is, Is this good for us? Thoughts like “the harder I work, the more I work, the better my career and my life will be” entice us into working more and more. We might get that promotion or that new account, but we might also get stressed out or burnt out. Working harder and longer when we should be recharging can have negative effects on our careers and our health. When we work without taking breaks, we are more likely to make mistakes or not do our best work. Our stress levels may increase and we are at risk for anxiety and depression. Additionally, when we work during our free time, we neglect our self-care and doing what is important to us.
So how can we prevent burnout? Here are some of the tools that I have implemented.
- Make a work schedule and stick to it. Do not work during the hours you are not scheduled to work.
- Set “out of office” messages for your phone, email, and texts that include when you are available and unavailable so that you don’t feel pressure to respond when you are off because you know that they know you are not available.
- Turn off notifications on your phone, computer/tablet, and watch.
- Unplug when you are not scheduled to work and if necessary, get a burner phone or a separate work phone.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, rest, sleep, connect with others, do something fun!
It can feel challenging to unplug but it is vital to our health and well-being. If you find it hard to relax in your free time and have negative consequences from working all of the time, learn more about anxiety and stress management therapy to learn how to find a healthy work-life balance; and don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re looking for one-on-one support.
For more information on how to prevent burnout by not working during your free time and on your vacations, check out this article that I was featured in last week.