10 Ways To Unplug From Work Productively
Turn Off Your Gadgets To Focus On What’s Important
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
Your phone vibrates in your pocket as you type out a memo on the laptop. Buttons pop up on the screen informing you of new emails. Meanwhile those voicemails keep piling up. It’s hard keeping pace with the conversation through your in-ear Bluetooth.
Are you about to blow a fuse? A recent Monster Worldwide survey shows that 81% of respondents feel some level of burnout from their existing job. The relentless presence of technology – with pressure to be constantly plugged in – contributes to this stress.
Taking occasional techno-breaks can actually make you more productive. But how do you disconnect without getting overwhelmed by messages, texts and emails?
Unplugging Lets You Organize More Efficiently
Being continually connected is like a permanent adrenalin rush. You feel important and wanted; alive and energized. Until you start to lose steam.
At that point your gadgets seem more like prison wardens than productivity enablers. They trap you into responding at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile it’s harder to plan your day or take time just to think quietly.
Turning off the tech (or at least toning it down periodically) restores your control. You’re able to prioritize tasks and consider the bigger picture. Which leads to better use of your time.
Organizing more efficiently means you’ll focus your efforts on what really matters – without the distractions of texting and other instant messages.
10 Productive Unplugging Tips
Think you’re too busy for a techno time-out? Why not try some of the tips below.
· Determine what your own limits are in terms of being available. Will you go offline for ten minutes every two hours? For an hour a day? You want to preserve your peace and quiet without being viewed as inaccessible.
· Let people know specific times and days that are best to get hold of you. It's all about managing expectations, communicating clearly, and sticking to your resolve. Ultimately we train people how to respect our seclusion.
· Take a course in time or priority management to help you set limits, parcel out your week effectively, and create intervals during the workday where you’re briefly off the grid.
· During your techno-breaks, don't respond to alerts, rings or messages just because they blare at you. Better yet: turn stuff off! You can take a few moments at the end of your retreat to sort saved messages according to urgency.
· Get an e-mail service that offers spam protection and incoming mail sorting. Learn how to use filters for automatically grouping messages in order of importance. In addition, add an auto-response to your e-mails letting people know you'll reply within whatever period you stipulate.
· Clear out your voice-mail regularly. Return the critical calls immediately, put less important calls on a 'to do' list, and expunge the ones you'll never get around to answering.
· Earn the right to have downtime. Show that you’re a high-performing professional who can be trusted to return messages and submit work in a timely manner, even if you aren’t online every minute of the workday.
· Try unitasking while unplugged. Studies show that many people aren’t wired to effectively multitask. It can cause excessive stress. So when you’re temporarily off the grid, do one task at a time. Quality of output beats error-filled quantity.
· If you don’t have an office door to close, put on a pair of headphones or stick some music earphones in. You don’t even have to turn on the tunes.
· Rather than return messages electronically, stroll over to colleagues and speak to them face-to-face every so often. The bond you build via personal contact can be much stronger than with tenuous connections online.
Set Your Limit, Stay Within It
Tuning out the tech is mainly a matter of boundaries. You set the limits but you also have to enforce them. That’s true whether you stay on-premise or schedule time out of the office.
Every now and then you may not be available at the exact moment you’re needed. Overall, however, your performance can improve. Disconnecting for short periods allows you to practice mindfulness. Being in the moment helps you take a strategic approach and focus on priorities. That can only happen if you protect your turf from unwanted intrusions.