By Lauren Kottwitz
So there’s this hot new trend hitting workplaces across America – it’s called “Work/Life Balance” and it has taken the corporate world by storm. People are suddenly smiling at their cubicles and rush hour traffic is a thing of the past because an equal number of workers are on vacation as are in the office. Pharmaceutical companies are losing money hand over fist because no one needs anxiety or ulcer medication anymore. Reports of premature hair loss are down 50%.
Americans are terrible at Work/Life Balance. As a nation, we take only 10 vacation days per year and leave more of our earned time off on the table of any other nation. It’s an issue that is being talked about more and more, as the importance of mental health is being reaffirmed culturally. In order to maintain morale, detachment from work is necessary. Unfortunately, all of us are constantly attached by technology.
So how do you take more of that time off? More importantly, how can you spend that time actively decompressing?
1. When you "clock off", clock off. Don’t answer calls from work after a certain time at night (no exceptions) – everyone deserves to eat dinner in peace. Edit your work email settings to
disallow notifications of incoming new mail between 6:00 pm and 8:00 am. If you have a
particularly demanding boss or a position that obliges you to a certain level of reachability, workout a schedule wherein you will be available until 8:00 pm, after which they can text you
regarding emergencies and you can respond if necessary.
2. If you can’t help but look at your phone, turn it off. I mean it – all the way off. Whatever it is will be waiting for you when you turn it back on. Remember that, with a few exceptions in the medical field, no one is going to die if they cannot reach you in the next 30 minutes. Your time and energy are not worth less than your manager’s.
3. Utilize your vacation time! It’s yours! You earned it! If you are among the many of us who
cannot afford to take a vacation somewhere or are just anxious about taking too many days in a row, take one or two days off at the beginning of the week and just sit around at home finishing that Harry Potter puzzle you got for your birthday. Take a half day off and take an extra long walk with your dog. Plan to come in late one day and make yourself pancakes and bacon and avocado toast. You will never regret the time you took off of work. Imagine how refreshed you will be when you go back into the office.
4. Start slow and be realistic. You can definitely take a vacation. You cannot take a two week
vacation starting April 1st if you work as an accountant or tax professional #realtalk. If you are used to working 80-hour weeks, don’t try to cut down to 40 right away. Being busy all the time is an addiction that you cannot quit cold turkey. Start by limiting the people who have
access to your direct line after hours, then work your way into limiting your email notifications,
then maybe take a week off.
Every little change is an act of self-care – and that’s really what Work/Life Balance is about. You have to take care of yourself to bring your best self to your work.