As time accelerates our lives to nearly light speed, it can be difficult to manage all of the things we should and should not do, especially with all of the devices at our disposal that keep us connected with our networks around the clock. Here we talk about the top things you need to stop doing now to create a better work-life balance. It involves balancing the scales with your time and technology use. There are some things you may be doing at work that you should stop right now.
Not Taking Your Lunch Break
Your lunch break is designated to give you not only time to nourish your body, but also a brain break from all of the work that is piled on your desk. One of the simplest but most overlooked solutions to balancing work and personal time is the act of stepping away from your desk for lunch. Use this time to decompress from the morning, recharge, refocus and reenergize for the afternoon.
“A common complaint I hear is about lunch time getting squeezed down to ten minutes, or to nothing at all, with people eating on the fly or eating while hunched over their computers,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, author and president of Humor at Work.
Many parents see this scene even at the dinner table with kids. Don’t cut corners with your lunch break and during your half hour or hour timeslot refrain from conducting any business, which includes not checking your email. If you have a close friend who is also a colleague that you often grab lunch with, be sure to keep work out of the conversation. Forbes staff writer Jacquelyn Smith suggests a few more activities you can do during your lunch break to refresh before taking on the rest of the workday including:
- Do what you can’t do in the morning or evening – Some small errands may be handled during midday hours like running to the bank or library to return a borrowed book. Be strategic and use your break to fit in the line items that could free up after work or weekend time. This is a great way to maximize efficiency in your schedule, but remember to be careful not to cram too much into the break, otherwise you may simply just be swapping one type of stress for another.
- Use the time to connect with someone new – Similar to a large public school campus, if you work at a large company or office building with hundreds to thousands of people, it can be easy to become isolated in your environment. Don’t let workplace interactions be fleeting, use your lunch break to make connections and build relationships with your cube neighbors and extended network.
- Don’t get stuck in your routine – Many of us are creatures of habit. Maybe you only take right turns to get to and from work, or go to the same Chinese food restaurant for lunch. Don’t get stuck in a complacent state, try mixing your schedule up by trying new places to eat that fit into your diet, or performing a quick exercise to get your blood flowing. There are many activities to help you improve your mental health. Find one that’s right for you and take the time to fit it in.
Checking Your Email Constantly
Are you on email overload? Checking your inbox frequently and reading every message as it arrives could be a major time waster and have a negative effect on your work productivity. Consider closing your email when working on other projects so you won’t be distracted. If you need to keep your electronic communication client open, consider adjusting to the settings to ensure you do not receive notifications every time new messages arrive. Designate specific times to devote to email, for example three times a day, morning, mid-day and at the end of the day to review and respond to work email.
— Out of the Office (@oofva) June 14, 2014
Being Available 24/7
It is important to set limits on your availability regarding incoming and outgoing communications outside of work hours. Set expectations by talking with your supervisor and colleagues to outline reasonable accessibility standards after the work day has ended. Be sure to follow through with sticking to your designated time of unavailability, otherwise you may be letting others take advantage of you by allowing yourself to be discredited. Despite some of our workaholic tendencies, there are actually some proven disadvantages of being connected to work 24/7 including contributing to your burnout at work.
The Bottom Line
Remember that the simple act of taking your full lunch break plays an important role to your productivity, and although we love technology, it can also hinder us from balancing work and personal time. Use your time efficiently and map out a plan that helps you commit to avoiding these workday mistakes.
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