Do you ever really switch off from work?
I realized a few months ago that I was so focused my business that I was seemingly unable to get my mind off work. Then a client of mine asked me the same question - “how can I switch off from business mode?” So I started to dig a little deeper. I noticed that we had both fallen into the ‘always on’ trap and the fear cycle that comes with it.
So why do we feel compelled to stay in work mode? The answer is simple: fear. We’re scared that if we let go and ‘turn off’, something terrible will happen. Well, at least that’s been my experience. I like to compare this feeling to a rat on a wheel that keeps on running, stuck in a cycle. That’s what can happen when we are always thinking about work and don’t switch off. We just keep running. But just like that rat, we will eventually get tired and sick from all the spinning. In the same way that if we never take a break, work becomes more and more of a burden. We will start to resent it and lose the passion we once had for it. There is a perceived level of safety and security in staying on the wheel and for us, it means working long hours and staying in work mode. It makes us feel like we’re always doing something, we’re ‘busy’ but that doesn't always mean productive and effective. If we keep pushing ourselves, fatigue and burnout will take the best of us and we may be unable to keep going. The crazy part if you are an entrepreneur is that you probably chose to do the work you’re doing because you like it. If you’re a leader in a company, you probably got into your role because you desired the success from pursuing your career that industry.
It can be counter-intuitive to turn off from work when you have so much to do. However, I’ve found that the times I have managed to do so have always turned into the most creative, innovative opportunities and have pushed my business forward in incredible ways.
At some point you will have to take a break. By proactively switching off from business and making it a part of your life, your work will be sustainable, you will stay motivated and creative and most likely happier because you won’t be so exhausted all the time.
I’d like to share a few secrets I use to switch off from business, even if you feel like you don’t have time and have a thousand responsibilities.
1. Block out time before or after work in your calendar for non-work related activities.
Make time for your morning routine, to write, perhaps go to a yoga class or go for a run. I’ve found that it’s even more effective if you can book into something like a class so there’s an extra level of commitment.
Use this time to connect with yourself and think of the bigger picture. The current work you’re doing is a part of your journey but doesn’t define you so make sure it’s not the only thing that you do.
2. Turn off notifications on your devices
A pretty obvious one but very effective. Turn off all the notifications on your phone from Facebook, email, Instagram, WhatsApp or whichever ones are going to stress you out and make you think about work.
One of my clients now turns her phone off at 2pm when she leaves to pick up her children from school. Her business is flourishing and she’s completely booked for the rest of the year. She’s now 100% present for her kids of 100% present for her work time. Amazing! Perhaps you could try something similar?
For me, I turn off all notifications on my phone that stress me out so I can be present and in the moment, whether at work or at home. It’s made a big difference.
3. Tech free weekend day
If you’re someone that finds it hard to take a break from technology you might like to try a tech free day once a week. Many religions make a ‘day of rest’ as an integral part of their week. I believe that even if you’re not religious, you can make your own day of rest and take a real break during that time to re-charge.
There is a whole world out there to explore - use your weekends to take trips, go hiking, read a book (a real one made of paper!), see friends and family or do something creative. I’ve found that the weekends that I really do switch off from work, make the following week much more creative, focused and enjoyable.
4. Mindset shift
A mindset shift is required here to believe that taking a break will be beneficial rather than unnecessarily distracting. This is a HUGE one for most people, myself and many of my clients included. I am a more effective leader if I make time to rest and recharge. For me, I know this is true but it can still be challenging to remember it all the time. If I’m struggling to believe that switching off will actually help, I make a quick mental list of the all the times I have done it that led to amazing results. In fact, I had the idea for my previous tech company while in the middle of the desert!
A good question to ask yourself is "What do I need to believe to allow me to switch off from work?"
5. Book a vacation
Changing your environment helps you switch off from business extremely fast. I’ve found it to be the most effective method for switching off from business and taking a real break. A three day weekend is still effective even if you can’t take a long vacation right now.
When you take time to switch off you give others permission to do the same.
Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, try one of these ideas and see if it helps you switch off from work mode.