Lately, I have been having discussions with my clients about the need to always “be on”. The flurry of emails, the interruptions of working from home, flawed systems for collaboration that are distractions in disguise, meetings for the sake of having meetings … all this means we don’t get much work done at work and we end up having to take it home – even though, we are all working at home (and we thought it would be better!).
The impact of constantly being switched on means we don’t have time to simply be. We deny ourselves space to think. We put our needs last, sleep poorly, adopt unhealthy eating habits and don’t exercise as much as we should.
This has a detrimental effect on those around us, too. Our friends and family all suffer when we are under so much pressure. When we don’t invest enough time and care into our relationships, our world can start to crack.
How does being switched on 24/7 impact you?
The boundaries between home and work are blurred, especially this year. Unless we take active steps to manage this, it ends up managing us. We feel out of control, and the downward spiral continues.
Take Anita, one of my clients, for example. She works in a large professional services firm, where it is the norm to work hard and fast all day long. She came to me as she had become resentful about the hours she was putting in, her quality of life outside of work and the impact her unhappiness was having on those around her.
I asked her to try three things:
Turn off the radio
In a world where we are expected to be constantly “on”, it’s no wonder our brains are flat-out trying to keep up.
Prior to Covid, Anita had a 45-minute drive in and out of the office each day. She was filling it with “productive” noise: phone calls, podcasts, the news. I asked her to start driving in complete silence.
In Adam Fraser’s book, The Third Space, he talks about the time that can be used to connect to work (or disconnect from home) and disconnect from work (or reconnect to home). This can be achieved by driving with no noise. This simple activity lets your brain gear up for the day ahead, or process the workday when it’s done, meaning by the time you arrive at work or home, you are in the right headspace. A new routine is necessary now, more than ever, even a walk around the block before you start your workday will help.
Wash the day away
We tend to think we seamlessly float into the different spheres of our lives, switching gears automatically. However, it usually doesn’t work that way. We often need a “transition period”.
If we don’t have a routine that allows us to switch off from the workday, we can spend our time at home with our mind still at work. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate routine or activity. Simply having a shower at the end of the workday is a great way to transition back into the home.
Get routines sorted
We have all heard this before, and that’s because it’s true. Going to bed at the same time and waking up the same time each day is essential for getting enough sleep and allowing your body to repair.
Anita diligently implemented these three things. I checked in with her two weeks later to see what the impact was. It was like speaking to a different person! Anita was calm and relaxed, her family and friends had noticed the difference in her demeanour, and she was feeling more in control.
We decided to test this strategy for another two weeks, adding in a journal entry or two so Anita could explore how she was feeling. I asked Anita what she had found most surprising about the process. Her answer? “A confidence boost.”
It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s often the little things that make all the difference. Being able to switch off allows us to switch on. Giving our brains a break means we are well-rested and fresh to tackle the next thing on our list.
How do you reset and recharge?
I’m Emma, and I’m a business and executive coach who believes wholeheartedly in the potential of women. My coaching philosophy is simple- taking action leads to results- and I love working with women in business and in corporate roles to take their passion and drive and transform their professional and personal lives.
Be enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic, every day.