Today, 80 percent of Americans continue to work after-hours with fear of underperforming: how do workers detach from ever-present communications always on their person?
Earlier this year, we talked about France’s “right to disconnect” law. In effect as of January 2017, the law obliges organizations with more than 50 employees to initiate “switching off” negotiations with their workforces. The goal is for everyone to agree on employees’ rights to ignore work-related requests outside the boundaries of regular work hours.
However, given that France’s approach is still an anomaly, how can knowledge workers take detachment into their own hands and prevent the organizational drag we talked about a few weeks ago?
Per Bryan Miles, co-CEO of virtual workforce solutions company BELAY, eliminating the ingrained tendency to overwork will not come overnight. With help from Bryan, we’ll explore ideas for identifying and eliminating time-stealers throughout the day to enhance productivity.
It can be a challenge to get away from work, yet it’s essential to disconnect so you can return rested and fully recharged, says Miles. To reduce interruptions during time off, let all team members know you’ll be out of the office. Provide a timeline of all projects, highlighting deliverables, so there are no surprises about gaps and deadlines.
Use technology tools like Boomerang to schedule and hold email or social media messages and create reminders for your return. These can help you disconnect for specific breaks.
Miles suggests that it’s a good idea to set a long-term disconnection goal, such as spending time off without looking at your phone. As an example of how to reach a goal like this, track how often you’re interrupted during a break and identify the nature of each disruption (e.g., emails, deadlines, etc.) so you can cope with them more effectively on your next vacation.
More broadly, look at ways to improve productivity when you are at work and reduce the time spent working after hours. To this end, Miles recommends time blocking. Here’s how it works. Resolve to spend 25 minutes working on a project, set a timer, turn off your phone, and shut out other distractions. When a time-stealer pops in and threatens your progress, make a note of it so that you can strategize how to avoid it next time. You’ll be surprised by how quickly the time flies by — and how much you get done.
Pay a little extra attention to these details, and you’ll be more productive at work and enjoy a better work/life fit overall.