Ahead of the long weekend, learn how to completely detach from work


We are currently living in an era where constant connectivity is the norm.

In a lifestyle dominated by smartphones, smart watches, tablets, and coupled with the increase in remote working since the pandemic, many of us will find ourselves blurring the boundaries between work and home life.

Lack of work/life balance can also lead to disturbed sleep, especially if you are checking emails just before bed, and lower our mood. If we are find ourselves unable to ‘switch off’ after work, we are less present in our personal lives, and therefore may not experience as much enjoyment from activities as we once did and our relationships are likely to also suffer.

Not only does this impact our quality of life, but also has the opposite impact to what we may expect when it comes to how productive and efficient we are. In this article, we will look at why we struggle to disconnect, the consequences of this and most importantly – how do we do a desk detox?

Here are a few tips to ease the process:

Set clear goals

Ask yourself, do I need a desk detox? How much work am I doing outside of hours? Why? Is doing this extra work making me feel any more on top of things? Based on your answer to these questions, set clear goals to work on – e.g., is it reducing screen time? Is it protected work times? Is a conversation with employers needed?

Be realistic

I appreciate that for many, it may be unrealistic to expect no work outside of work hours. If this is the case for you (i.e., there are likely serious consequences of not keeping an eye on things) then setting boundaries for how much time you spend working outside of hours can be helpful. E.g., protecting time every couple of hours or so to look at emails, and engaging in other things outside of these times. This can help reduce the constant triggering of ‘threat state’ every few minutes.

Let people know

Letting people know when you are contactable vs when you are not can help manage feelings of guilt that may arise when disconnecting. Block out time in your diaries, set “do not disturb’ notifications on when appropriate, and let colleagues know the boundaries about what constitutes emergency contact. This can also be healthy modelling for colleagues and juniors.

Allocate tech-free zones

Protect time in your after-work schedule which doesn’t involve technology. If you work from home, is there a space where you work which doesn’t interfere with your daily home space? If not, can you hide away your work equipment when you log off? Out of sight, out of mind!

Increase offline activities

See if you can come up with some after work activities that don’t involve technology, thus reducing the pull into constant checking of work-related material. Walks, reading, socializing can all be great ways to enhance quality of life and connect with your value systems outside of the professional sphere.

Use digital wellbeing tools

Did you know most smartphones allow you to set limits on how much you use certain apps? You could also put ‘do not disturb’ mode on or turn off notifications when you are doing other things. Another tool many I have worked with find helpful is to remove things like email apps from easy access – they can be hidden in a digital folder on your home screen which means you have more of a chance to break the habitual cycle of opening the app every time you are on your phone – again out of sight out of mind.

Reminder – this isn’t about being completely tech free or never doing anything for work outside of work time, as let’s be honest that isn’t realistic in today’s world or desirable some industries and roles. Instead, aim for balance – take a step back, protect downtime, use smartphones in psychologically smarter ways to enhance your wellbeing and social relationships. Not only will this likely improve your quality of life, but your productivity and job satisfaction levels too. You could start today, even with something small and see how these transforms over time!

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