clock spiral

Like many who have returned to working from home at the beginning of the pandemic, I had to readjust. There was no walking around downtown at lunchtime to grab something to eat. That was replaced by a lot of my wife and I wondering why “Cheryl”, our unseen co-worker and housemate, ate the last of the Cheetos and didn’t put them on the grocery list.

The one thing I’ve had the most difficulty with, is turning it off at the end of the day. Pre-pandemic, I would leave the office some time between 4:00 and 5:00 (I typically started the day early). Now, I find myself at the laptop at 10 or 11pm, and sometimes much later.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Being stuck in work-mode is a huge problem for many business owners.

I admit that the chime for incoming messages immediately has me reaching for my phone like one of Pavlov’s dogs. There’s always a Zoom call that I should be on. I spend the days and nights not only thinking about ways to do good work for my clients, I’m also trying to get an edge for my own business.

While I am getting better, I still have a long way to go. There’s lots of writing on the subject of being overstretched and overwhelmed. Here are some of the suggestions that I’ve found that are worth sharing.

Set a stop time and stick to it.

Commit to stopping work as soon as the clock reaches stop time. Whether that’s 5PM, 8PM or 2AM, make an effort to be consistent. That will enable diversions that can allow you to destress or develop other skills in other areas, or rekindle family relationships that may have been neglected.

Put your phone on mute.

I know this one is difficult. Our phones give us as much security as Linus’ blanket. While smartphones are invaluable for keeping you connected, they can keep you too connected. Make sure your email notifications and other are switched off. It’s not like you don’t know people are sending you email. Also, turn off the little red notifications when possible. The were invented to psychologically torture you until you check the app.

Set realistic daily goals and tasks.

Plan your day and work the plan. That will help you avoid taking on too much and falling into the trap of feeling like you haven’t gotten anything accomplished. It also reduces the chance of dropping important balls and disappointing your customers or your team.

I  suspect that we’ll be working from home for a while to come and getting a handle on overworking is important. I know that I’m not fully there yet, but I’m trying (well really, I’m trying to try). How do you switch off?