Switching Off

Now that I am working I am very quickly learning that it is important to be able to switch off from work mode. This is especially vital when one works from home. I have a set number of hours that I need to work per month, and tasks that all need to be finished in a certain time frame. Of course, at the beginning it will take me longer as I am not that familiar with the software and every step that I have to take – but it’s already getting easier.

That being said, it is so easy to just run downstairs to my office and take care of a couple of emails in the evening, tweak the HTML for the next days posts, so that I don’t have to deal with it all the next day. Bad idea. A couple of emails could turn into an hour that I am sitting in my office taking care of things that can wait till the next day, instead of spending time with the family.

When I eat lunch or dinner I am deliberately leaving my blackberry in the office, and when I am doing homework with the kids, or just chillaxing with them and the KoD in the evening, I make it a point that I don’t check my work email.

The hardest part, so far, was last weekend. I don’t work Fridays, but other people do and there were emails coming in. I had to work hard to ignore them, and to also ignore the thought in my head that said “you have 34 emails (and counting) in your inbox to deal with Monday morning….” I totally switched off.

I spent the weekend immersed in the children, the KoD and household stuff – and came to my office refreshed and ready to take on the week this morning. I accomplished. I did more than I set out to do on my to-do list, and I feel extremely efficient.

There will be emails that trickle through in the hours that I am not working, but it is getting easier and easier to tell myself that I don’t have to deal with it now, and that it can wait.

I have to be firm with my work hours, otherwise I will be burned out. I want my job to get the best ME it can, and I want the kids to have the best IMA they can, and for the KoD to have the best QoH that he can. And that means compartmentalizing, which is no easy feat. But I am working on it.

How do you switch off from work mode?

6 responses to “Switching Off

  1. I found the hardest part of working at home was getting dressed- it’s just too tempting to sit around in PJ’s (or less) all day.

    Before you look for your binoculars- I don’t work at home anymore.

    • I have found I am more effective when I am dressed – not in PJs. Somehow fuzzy slippers don’t engender a professional mindset. Now, that’s not to say I don’t hang out in PJs, but not when I have skype meetings set up 😉

  2. During the week I keep the volume of my Blackberry cranked up to “loud” at all times. In my line of work, time-sensitive matters are the norm; prompt responses to our international clients and supervising partners is a basic rule. Over the weekend, I turn off the volume and check my Blackberry 3-6 times a day; I don’t take it everywhere I go. For the first two years of this gig, I kept it in my purse on “loud” at all times, and my work Blackberry was also my personal phone. Hey, work subsidized it! However, I realized that this meant I was constantly leashed. So I got a personal phone, and that has vastly improved my quality of life.
    Beyond this, I resolved not to work past 9 PM (in the office) unless there is an absolute emergency. Thankfully, I haven’t had to stay past 8 in the last few months (but I do work sometimes until 10-10.30 from home or a cafe). And every emergency has been on a Sunday morning. 😛
    Three years into this high-pressure job that I love, I’ve learned that without boundaries, burnout is inevitable. I used to freak out about how my billable hours compared to my colleagues’, and it was a source of major anxiety. But now I’m less concerned with what they’re doing than I am with how I’m performing–and handling–my responsibilities.
    And to answer your question (how much can I digress?), I never switch off completely from work mode. My duties are always in the back of my mind. But that’s the nature of the beast I love. =)

  3. Good for you for “switching off!” That’s fantastic! When I work (the brief 8 or so hours that I teach my piano lessons) I’m out of the house, so that makes it easy. I have to work on switching off from my online endeavors, however. Lately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the time to do much on the computer during the day, and I kind of like that. Except now I’m staying up quite late to squeeze everything in…ah, I’ll eventually find that balance!

  4. It’s SO different when you own your own business and are 100% responsible for the accounts/clients/schedules/time sensitive correspondence/emergencies ect. Thank G-d for SHABBOS! The only true day we relax and let it all go. But, don’t be fooled- right after Shabbos that BB goes right back on. We are grateful when it doesn’t make noise!
    Hubby and I, well, mostly hubby- likes to work hard- 8 AM- 8PM some days more, some days less. We have traded our Sundays for these short Fridays. (with the quiet of a Sunday, more paperwork and backlog gets done). But- we also like to Play hard. We are fortunate to be able to make our own schedules. This has afforded us the ability to take trips and do other activities a “normal job” would never allow us to.
    I try to make boundaries, but the reality is that the work has to get done. The buck stops here.

  5. I find it’s better to check mail even when I’m officially “off” for a day so I’m not overwhelmed when I return. And truthfully, the people I know who have the best career success don’t shut down for a whole Friday every week. But whatever works for you!

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