Making Time for Yourself in an Always-on Culture
Now that much of the work done in the office has become easily accessible through mobile apps and the internet, it can be challenging for team members to switch off after hours. It shouldn't have to be. Your mental and physical well-being are just as essential to accomplish your job. So, let's walk through how we can fight the 'always on culture' while still being a productive teammate.
Identify your needs
We all need the basics like food, shelter, water, and sleep. Take time to identify the specifics and address whether you are meeting those needs. We are all different, so your list will not match up with your colleagues but consider asking questions like:
- Whom do you enjoy spending time with?
- How much sleep do you need?
- What kind of physical movement do you need to feel good and healthy?
- What activities bring you joy?
- What foods can you eat to feel your best?
- Are you getting outside enough?
Everyone has needs, and you don't have to be sorry for having them. Make sure your needs are met, and if not, take steps to address them.
Figure out what can be done
Depending on what stage of life you are in, you have varying degrees of control over what you can do. Maybe you are taking night classes, helping your kids with remote school, or learning a new skill. No matter what your current challenge is, you can do something to start addressing your needs.
Say you can't seem to get enough sleep. Map out your whole day and figure out why you have been missing out on extra zzz's. Are you watching too much television before bed? Cut the T.V. time in half. 2-hour lunch breaks prolonging your day? Bring your lunch and eat at your desk. Is the neighborhood you are living in is too noisy at night? Buy some comfortable noise-canceling headphones to block it out.
Not every problem is as simple to solve, but there are always steps to get you closer if you take the time to explore the options.
Set Time Aside
It can be overwhelming to think of all the things you could be doing with your time, and setting some time aside just for yourself can seem like you're setting yourself up for failure. You are not. Schedule this time in your everyday activities, and don't feel guilty using it. This time could include:
- Cooking your favorite meal
- Going on a walk
- Reading a good book
- Playing with your kids
By actively scheduling this time, you won't have remorse when you use it to better your mental health.
Make it easy
Don't allow other things to get in the way of the time you worked hard to set aside. Don't let other items creep into and suck the time up. Set strict boundaries and a precedent that this time is for you. Eliminate the barriers between you and this time.
Want to work out? Have your gym bag ready to go before the workout. Want to eat healthier? Buy less of the foods you know are bad for you when hitting the grocery store. Want to get a good nap in? Find a cozy, quiet, dark space to fall asleep quickly.
Doing this will stop you from making excuses when it does come time to make time for you. Don't give yourself an excuse not to take this time.
Make it clear with peers
Set boundaries with those you love. Don't budge on these boundaries. If you need to leave the bar early during a night out to reach your sleep goal, be honest and tell your friends. You may get some backlash, but if they are your friends, they will understand. Stand your ground. You will thank yourself later.
Our time is precious, don't let it go to waste, and make sure you set time aside from yourself. Remote working has created an "always-on” culture. Don’t be. Step away, make sure others know you are stepping away, and don't budge. It's time to reclaim your time.