When it comes to work, technology can make or break you. While it’s made our work more efficient, it also can mean that you’re plugged into your job at all hours of every day—which can be draining and unnecessary. Obviously, 2020 heightened this even more; with work-from-home being the case for the foreseeable future, it’s important to be able to make your technology work for you. Here are easy ways to make sure you’re maintaining work-life balance—even when you’re working remote.
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1. Delete, delete, delete
One easy way to not let work get in the way of your personal time is to delete the email app off your phone right after you finish working on Fridays (this can also apply to any communication apps your company uses). Then, you can re-download it every Monday morning once you officially start your work day. Not only will this allow you to enjoy your weekend fully and without distractions, but you’ll start your work week off on a much more peaceful foot. You really don’t need to start worrying about work emails the second you wake up on Monday morning.
This may sound like a pain, but it only takes 60 seconds to re-download the app each week, and you’ll gain so much by removing email completely from your view for the entire weekend.
Social media managers: the same goes for you. Delete and re-download any social media apps you aren’t supposed to check during the weekend. If you’re not asked to be on call, it’s OK to step away and take a breather.
2. Don’t be afraid of do not disturb
It can feel like a big deal to cut yourself off from the world, but trust us, once you learn to trust the “do not disturb” settings on your phone, you’ll never want to go back. If you have a work-only phone, even better—you can set your whole device to “do not disturb” for non-work hours.
If you use your personal phone as your work phone, you can still do this, but might want to allow certain friends and family members to call you during that time. If your boss really needs to reach you, don’t worry: if they call twice within three minutes, the phone will ring (you can learn more about how all these features work here). But no, you don’t need to respond to your boss’ brainstorming texts when you’re trying to enjoy dinner with your family.
3. Remove notifications
Even if you don’t open that Slack message or email that comes in a little too early in the morning, it doesn’t mean it’s not disturbing your personal time. That’s time you’re spending reaching for your phone, looking at your screen, and making a mental note to respond later. You now may find yourself thinking about that message during your commute or while cleaning up after dinner instead of catching up on your favorite podcast. Turn off any non-necessary notifications—on your phone and computer—and cut out the distractions. This applies to personal apps too. Not only will your personal time feel more freeing, but you won’t get distracted during work. Get more done and get your butt home.
4. Block your worst distractions
We all have a few websites that we gravitate towards a little too much during the day (this writer is guilty of refreshing New York Magazine’s site constantly since 2008). Try setting some website blockers on your computer to help you keep your focus during the work day. These distractions can slow you down and cause you to work later than you should, especially if you’re working from home where it’s easy to fall into a productivity guilt trap and to work late to compensate. Many of these tools allow you to block devices during set hours (think 9-5), and others remove your access to the site completely until you say you want them back. This list of website blockers is a great place to start!
5. Use tech to set boundaries
Remember back in the day when we would customize our AIM chat room away statuses whenever we stepped away from that precious screen? It’s not entirely clear why anyone needed to know we were in the shower, but that’s how it went. Today, you can do the same thing with your more modern forms of communication. Whenever you leave the office or simply want some heads down time, feel free to change your status on Slack, mark off time on your public calendar, or set OOO notices that inform your coworkers when you’ll be back online. This may feel harsh at times, but if expectations are set, no one will feel like they’re waiting around for your response since they know you aren’t available at the moment.
6. Track your movements
We’re talking literally. Track every physical move you make with a smart watch, your phone, or some sort of exercise tracking device. Set movement goals for yourself and use your tech pal to track your steps and keep you accountable. Check in on your progress throughout the day—an app may just be the reminder you need to give yourself a break and get your blood flowing!
7. Set break reminders
Similar to how you can use your tech devices to give you a nudge when you need to get moving, use your phone or computer to set break reminders. It’s so easy to get caught up in our work and forget to take breaks, but you need to take them. Block off time for a solid lunch break on your calendar, or set a timer to alert you when you’ve worked for an hour straight. Move. Breath. Stop typing. Do whatever you need to do to relieve tension, take a break, and come up for air. You deserve it.