Technology, Boundaries, and Taking a Break From Emails and Notifications For Awhile

Technology, Boundaries, and Taking a Break From Emails and Notifications For Awhile

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Are you obsessed with your email? How often do you check it? Is it time to step away from the laptop and your phone notifications?

Our phones, too, are a constant source of notifications flooding in, whether it’s an email a text, or a social media notification.

And every time I see my phone light up, my anxiety kicks in and I feel like I need to read, respond, and take action right away.

Have you ever stopped yourself and really noticed how often you’re checking your email and notifications? Odds are, it’s probably a lot more than you realize. And each time a notification pops up, you probably get sidetracked by other things as well, I know I do. I get an email notification, read it, and then I check in on social media and find myself scrolling for several minutes.

These little distractions throughout the day can add up to a ton of wasted time in the end and interfere with real productivity and connection. And odds are, that notification that just flashed on your phone doesn’t actually need to be taken care of right away.

I had an epiphany the other weekend: what if I didn’t check email all weekend? So, I tried it out. I disconnected my work email from my phone so that I couldn’t see any emails coming in.

Guess what? Nothing happened. Well, except that I felt a lot more rested and stress-free all weekend.

Working from home wreaks havoc on one’s boundaries (which I discovered quite a while ago), so this is something I feel like I need to do to start taking those boundaries back. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should be working all the time. You and your boss should understand and respect your work-from-home boundaries. When you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock. Even if your office is always only a few steps away.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m ALL about technology and the wonders it does for working from home.  However, if we don’t set clear boundaries about when and where we do it, consequences will arise personally and professionally.

So, do you need to step away from the laptop and phone and engage in the real offline world? And how can one do that?  Here are some thoughts and tips:

1. Disconnect Your Phone for a While

This is going to sound crazy, but you don’t always need to have your phone connection on.

Sometimes, when I’m doing something where I don’t want to get distracted and want to focus on having some quality time with my family, I turn off my phone’s data and internet connection. This still allows for texts and calls to come through, but stops most of the distracting notifications that keep making my screen light up and catch my attention.

2. Turn off push notifications for non-essential apps.

I’ve also turned off push notifications for all of the apps and things on my phone that aren’t essential. This means Facebook, Instagram, games, etc. These things never give me a notification that is important and immediately requires my attention, so I don’t like to them distract me during the day.

When I have some free time I can log into these apps and see everything I need to on my time, without the help of a noisy notification.

3. Take the weekends off.

As I mentioned before, I disconnect my work email from my phone for weekends and vacations now. I don’t need to see work reminders when it’s my time off. Plus, if something important did happen while I was away, then I’d get a text or call about it too. This goes for Slack and any other work messaging systems too. Make sure they’re set up to not bother you during the weekend. This is your time.

I will say, however, that I do enjoy logging back in Sunday night and getting a feel for the things that have come through so that I can set a solid game plan for the next day. I’m more productive each day if I map out what I’d like to accomplish the night before.

4. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

Even during the work week and day, set hours and stick to them. Working from home has perks, like flexible hours. Working from home also has downsides, like flexible hours.  Don’t abuse yourself, cause you’ll be sorry in the long run.

It comes down to this, don’t overstretch or burn yourself out. Working from home doesn’t mean constantly working without a break. We’re people, and we need time off. So, close your browser and go have coffee with a friend.

What is something you do to set boundaries with technology? Share with us in the comments below!

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