Reclaim Your Time Off: The Importance Of Unplugging

by | December 31, 2014

Did you know that Germany is considering a ban on after-work email? Due to the advances in technology, workers around the world are more easily able to, and are feeling obliged to, access their work life even when they are away from the office.

Risks of staying plugged in

Technology is not just replacing humans in the workforce – it’s dangerously encroaching on replacing humanity. As workers struggle to keep up with machines that don’t need to sleep or eat, they are connecting more with screens and less with people. This puts employees at increased risk for chronic stress, inability to focus on a single task, insomnia, and anti-social tendencies.

Some of the most desirable traits in the hiring world are cultural compatibility, interpersonal skills, and ability to work independently. And yet none of these skills can be developed or maintained when a person is always interacting with a device and responding to emails. It’s a double-edged sword: not only can ceaseless work cause a person to get burned out on their current position – it can also sabotage their chances of moving on to a more desirable position in the future.

Pull the power cord

The German Labor department is still in the stage of conducting research, but current observations indicate that there is a correlation “between constant availability and the increase of mental illness”. And the added time spent working instead of resting is actually decreasing productivity because employees are burning out.

Tackling a stack of paperwork so an exec can spend that time at her child’s recital, or planning a vacation for a business owner who otherwise wouldn’t get around to it, are just small ways we help ensure time off is truly time off.

Draw a line in the sand

As hard as it is, try to set up clear and distinct boundaries between your work and home lives.

  • Unless you are an on-call physician, turn off your work phone. It’s not a big deal if you have to check in occasionally, but having to take the extra step of powering it on helps you determine whether or not it’s a necessary intrusion on your personal time.
  • Establish routines to complete within your first hour of being home to help you transition into a relaxed mindset – reading a chapter of a book, taking a hot shower, or building a lego tower with your kids.
  • Attend a tech-free camp with Digital Detox to kickstart your commitment to getting away from your devices.

Remember what really matters

Screen time should never be confused with quality time. The humans in your life – including yourself – deserve your undivided attention every now and then. Fostering the relationships in your life and caring for yourself are vital to your mental, emotional, and physical health. Not to end on a morbid note, but when it comes time to leave this world, would you rather be surrounded by flashing screens or smiling faces?