These days, we are more connected than ever. You want to order a pizza? Just tweet about it. You want to buy movie tickets? Open up an app. And if you want to see what’s happening at the office on your day off, just pull out your iPhone.
Smartphones have made telecommuting easy. But it can be a bad idea to have your work email so accessible on your phone.
Checking work emails after hours can lead to undue stress and anxiety. People often send emails with their own schedules in mind, not the recipient’s. When someone emails you, they probably want to get it off their plate and onto yours.
If you’re checking emails on your phone, you may feel a sense of urgency to respond, even if that wasn’t the sender’s intent. You might feel the need to drop what you’re doing and turn your focus to replying to the email. You can’t always respond immediately. It can cause unnecessary stress if you feel like you should reply right away and can’t.
Checking your emails in the evening, on the weekends, or especially on vacations, never gives you the chance to fully disengage from your work. Time spent away from work should be time to unwind and recharge. But if you’re constantly checking work emails on your cell phone, you never let your brain turn off and you risk getting burned out.
You should feel refreshed and rejuvenated after being away from work for a couple of days or longer. After having that unplugged time, you’re more likely to come back with new ideas and perspectives. We all want to come back from a vacation feeling renewed. It’s valuable to return with a fresh mindset and an eagerness to get back into the swing of things. This won’t happen if you checked your emails while you were on the beaches in Maui, or replied to emails all night while half watching your son’s Little League game.
In order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, we all need separation. Focusing on yourself and your family while you’re away from work will lead you to be more present while at work, and effectively, a better employee. So be fully present while you’re at work. And once you leave the office, save your phone time just for the fun stuff like checking Facebook or playing Candy Crush.
If your company requires you to be accessible via email on your phone, then see if you can set some boundaries. Set a designated timeframe when you’ll check emails, and then don’t check them again after that. Skim through your emails during that designated time and only reply to the ones that have to have immediate responses.
It may feel strange at first, and you’ll probably have to fight the impulse to open up that little envelope icon. But in the end disconnecting will grow on you and make a big difference in both your work and personal life.
Business Phone picture from Shutterstock.