How I Break From the Work Grind and Lead a Balanced Life

It's easy to stay connected at all times. The difficult part is setting boundaries that will work for you.

Tim Grist Photography/ Getty Images
Tim Grist Photography/ Getty Images

The opportunity to be plugged in is all around us – portable chargers, charging stations, screens everywhere you turn, but being constantly connected can be incredibly draining. By unplugging, we can give ourselves the opportunity to refuel, expand our thoughts and ultimately enhance our productivity and creativity at work.

To recharge, I try to designate my free time to touch one or more of the following categories: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual and Intellectual. By designating these spaces, I can create a clear focus, and thus am more likely to achieve my goals. Below are some tips I like to follow to unplug from work and feel more in control:

Put Your Devices Out of Sight

When I am at home, I turn off my devices and try to be present and focused on whatever I’m doing. For example, when sleeping, all my devices are in a different room. This helps for a few reasons, first there are no distractions, second when the alarm goes off (on my phone), I have to get out of bed and go to the other room. When I’m out in a non-work environment I try not to keep my phone visible; especially while dining. That is one of my biggest pet peeves – I think it is so important and respectful to be present with the people I am with, not fixed to a screen and blatantly ignoring company. I mean, I can order in and relax in my PJs if we are all going to just be on our phones.

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

I make it a point that when I’m not working, I do not check emails. I inform my colleagues that if it is an emergency, call or text. Otherwise, it can wait until the next day. Creating processes and expectations for myself and my team builds better and more effective communication and working environments. Of course there are always exceptions to any rule – in this instance, if there is a deadline or a time sensitive issue. I’m not saying to put off work because it isn’t pertinent, I’m saying be smart and selective.  

Take Breaks

I make a point to take breaks, it’s that simple. Sometimes I block time in my calendar or set an alarm on my phone to stop what I’m doing and walk away for a short period of time. The mental break is a game changer! I’ll go for a run, walk around the block, anything to take my mind off of the tasks that can become too consuming when we haven’t let our brains or emotions breath. By decompressing, I can return with a clear head and make decisions much more quickly. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Surround Yourself With Friends

Sometimes life gets busy and you may find yourself postponing plans with friends to get ahead at work or because you’re just tired and prefer a night in. I make a point to plan or attend at least one outing with friends a week so I can feed off of their energy and find balance. It’s important to surround myself with engaging, positive people in my personal life who naturally encourage me to just be me. By letting my guard down, I can relax, put otherwise consuming situations into perspective and likely feel more level headed and in control.

Push Yourself to Try New Things

The key here is to unplug by experiencing new things. Getting yourself out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to see, hear, and feel things for the first time will invigorate you and give you new perspectives that can make you ready to learn and lead in the office. Either solo or with friends, I will try something as simple as a new restaurant, exercise class, cultural experience such as a show or performance or by just wandering through a new neighborhood or area. By continuously trying new things I’m able to expand my ideas, processes and network.

Everyone’s schedule and working style is different. The more that we can each take a step back and evaluate what is working and what is not, the more energy, clarity and happiness we are bound to find!

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