I read an interesting article by David Frith
in the Australian's IT section this week. It's all about switching off occasionally - turning off your mobile phone at weekends, distancing yourself from your social media network when you're not in working hours.
I've always been a champion of work/life balance, of having time to yourself where work just doesn't intervene. Like, for instance, weekends. But now I think about it, I can't remember the last weekend in which I didn't do some kind of work. Update someone's website, respond to work emails... if you're like me you know how it is.
The last few weeks have been super-hectic for me. I've been working late at nights and working weekends to finish tasks for people. I've been available and 'switched on', and realistically it's taking a bit of a toll. I woke this morning stressed out because I realised, late last night, I'd left my phone switched off all day.
I'd been in a meeting the afternoon before and switched it off, because I didn't even want disturbance on 'silent' mode. I'd left it switched off for the drive home as I hate the phone ringing when I'm driving. I won't answer it because I find talking on the phone distracting when I'm confronting Sydney traffic, and if it rings a portion of my mind is wondering who rang and what they want when I should be thinking about the idiot in front of me with a penchant for not using his indicator.
So my subconscious took the matter in hand for me, and neglected to remind me to switch the phone back on. As a result I had a reasonably stress-free day yesterday. My interruptions were minimal, and I got a ton of tasks done. I did wonder why several people emailed me asking them to ring me, and didn't find out why until I went to put the phone on charge that night. Oops! My subconscious had the right idea, though. I needed a day to catch up. I'd been making mistakes, not doing updates for people which I said I'd do, rushing jobs and making typos. Not good. Not professional. You might say switching off the phone isn't professional either, but if it gives you the breathing space to do good work, then it's a good thing.
I switched the phone on this morning and collected my messages and thankfully I'd addressed most of them in the course of yesterday's work day, so the stress levels dropped quite a lot. Remembering how grumpy and stressed I was over breakfast, worrying about how many people might be chasing me, and how relieved I was at realising it wasn't as bad as I thought when I switched the phone on afterwards, has rung some warning bells.
It really is important to take time for yourself. Perhaps not switching the phone off for a working day, but switching off at dinner time and not turning on until the next day - switch off the phone, don't be tempted to access your emails, forget tweeting about business stuff. I've been a bear with a sore head for more than a week as I haven't been having enough 'me' time. There's a novel calling my name, and I'm off to read it now and indulge in some necessary escapism.
Don't feel guilty next time you want to do the same.