How much of a work-life balance do you think you have?
06:30, alarm goes off, snooze… snooze… Oh, hold on, a notification. Now that’s got your attention, you’re awake.
The first thing you did this morning was check your phone right?
Work phone, check.
Enough internet access or do you think you need more?
Don’t forget your chargers, you don’t want the world to end.
We live in a world where real time communication has never been easier.
What you see on social media, and online platforms can put an enormous amount of pressure on you and your life subliminally. Your friends from school are getting married, your ex-partner has got a promotion, your colleague has a bought a new car. The grind never stops right? From Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, you can't get away from it, and you’re not helping yourself if you don't take yourself away from it every now and again. There’s nothing wrong with and having ambition, and wanting to be seen as an integral part of the team, however, you need to have perspective and you can’t let others’ success be a measurement of your own.
And it is perspective that we are losing, gone are the days when you leave your office and only get work updates the next morning.
Platforms such as Slack, Azendoo, Bitrix24 - communication software which you will probably be familiar with if you work in an office environment, mean we are virtually at work all the time, primarily due to notification software. Desktop notifications, app notifications, banner notifications. Notifications galore. As easy they are to turn off, let’s be honest, how many of us turn them off? You don't want to miss a thing.
The first time I used Slack it reminded me of using MSN back in my younger school years, so something like this in a working environment, how can you not fall in love with it? Its features are perfect for business teams, with the ability to create open channels for all members and to send private messages to individuals. Slackbot is a cool feature that you can personalise to do anything from welcome members, or fire members every time someone types their name. With emojis and gifs easy to drop into any message, communicating online can be extremely personalised and well, fun.
However, everything has to be used and done in moderation. That also includes work. Are programs like Slack jeprodisring that? How much of a work-life balance does it really give you?
Slack prides itself on bringing the workplace to you “wherever you are.” As perfect as that sounds for businesses, it could also be detrimental towards its users’ mental health. It’s starting to become increasingly difficult to disengage from the work place. Constantly checking these types of platforms when you get home can apply pressure to you because it might make you feel as if you're not working enough, even more so if you work across several time-zones.
One third of respondents asked in a Mental Health Foundation survey said they feel unhappy or very unhappy about the time they devote to work. My question is, how much of communication softwares and social media, is contributing to that. It’s very easy to neglect other aspects of your life because of having a high workload and this can lead to vulnerability to mental health problems.
Mental health should be one of the main priorities in your life. Many of us don’t acknowledge it until its too late, and even then some choose to ignore it because they are too busy to care or prioritise climbing the work ladder and earning the highest amount possible. Of course this doesn't apply to everyone, however it is something that is a concern with a shocking 1 in 4 people experiencing some kind of mental health problem each year and this makes it a problem which needs to be addressed.
How many of you have your work emails set up on your phone? How many of you have your work messaging program, installed on your phone? How many of you reply to your work messages/emails out of office hours? You can't stop yourself can you.
Have you noticed that when you go on holiday and board a flight, you spend that all time in the air with no internet access or phone signal and you have that initial panic. Then it starts to disappear after a few hours, and you slowly begin to relax and you remember what clouds look like and what talking to actual humans sounds like. Shocking.
It’s okay to switch your phone off once you leave the office. It’s okay to deactivate your social profiles for a while. At the least, just hide notifications. Personally, working in the marketing industry and having to use social media as a part of my job role, makes that really difficult. The trick is to create professional profiles and don't follow/add anyone who doesn't relate to business. Refrain from checking your Newsfeed and Timelines, you shouldn't be doing that whilst you're working anyway.
Don’t be afraid to take breaks. The online world is amazing and huge and unimaginably endless with all of the new developments, but the real world is even bigger and more amazing. Explore it, breathe. Let your laptop die and turn off that damn phone.
My Top Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Turn off your data -
I know it’s a bit annoying to keep going in and out of your settings, but turning off your data whilst you're out will actually make a big difference to your life. You’ll feel more inclined to be in the moment and appreciate what’s around you more. Don't worry about missing messages, they’ll still be there when it’s the right time for you to check them. If something is really that important, someone will most likely be more inclined to phone you.
Delete the apps -
I’m sure you know what social media platform you spend the most time on. Heres my advice to you. Delete it. Okay not forever, but go on a social media detox for one week. You’ll be surprised how you feel after it. You’ll realise that all that time you usually spend on it is wasted and can be used elsewhere.
Slack: Meet your new best friend: the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature -
When ‘Do Not Disturb’ is activated, Slack won't send desktop, mobile or email notifications. Schedule your notifications so that you don't receive any outside of work hours (especially whilst you're sleeping). Say goodbye to 4am notifications from oversea team members.
Rather than trying to work to others’ standards, complete tasks to your best ability and stop trying to be a perfectionist. Once you start doing this, you’ll find you complete your work quicker and not taking extra stress home with you. If you know you did your absolute best, then no-one can tell you otherwise and you’ve satisfied the expectations that you’ve set for yourself.
It’s okay to say no, or to ask for help -
Sometimes you just can't do everything. Learn how to manage your workload and tell someone if you’re feeling overworked. Most of the time your manager will be sympathetic and supportive. As long as you meet deadlines and get your work done within reasonable time, there’s no reason for you to overwork yourself.
Plan your holidays -
Go abroad, or sleep for an entire week. Rest is important and it should be prioritised so that you keep in check with your physical and mental health. You need time to rebalance.