As most managers know too well, even in “normal times,” achieving true work-life integration can feel challenging. Right now, if you’re leading a team while working from home, and your colleagues are doing the same, one of the hardest things to do is to call it a day — to stop work, “leave the office,” and switch your attention to your personal life. There’s often a temptation to work late into the evening in order to get everything done — and even then it can seem like your work is never complete. But in order to support yourself and avoid burnout, it remains essential to establish clear boundaries with your work.
Recent research published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that working for too long backfires badly — it can lead to stress and depletion, in addition to serious medical conditions. Spending time nurturing ourselves and our relationships, on the other hand, leads to greater productivity and well-being. Enforcing a time to stop work and preserve time for connecting with family, or for your physical and mental well-being means making disciplined choices, and resisting the temptation to complete “just one more task.” What’s more, when you’re in a leadership position, setting an example by logging off will mean that every member of your team knows it’s OK to “leave the office” when the workday is complete.
“After a reasonable day’s work, put away your electronic devices and work tools just as you would store carpentry tools after building shelves or baking ingredients after making a cake,” Bryan Robinson, Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and author of #Chill: Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life, writes in Forbes. “Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries.”
To support yourself in enforcing an end to your remote workday, make sure you transition when you are nearing the end of your day by tidying your office space (or desk), and attending to any last remaining priorities, like sending off key emails.
For more inspiration on how to lead by example and support your team in creating clear, healthy workplace boundaries, try these Microsteps:
In your next team meeting, tell your direct reports how you’re taking care of yourself.
Sharing how you recharge will normalize these important practices.
Declare an end to the day, even if you haven’t completed your to-do list.
In any leadership position, it’s almost impossible to do all you could have done in any one day. Effectively prioritizing means being comfortable with incompletions and taking the time to recharge, so you’ll return to work the next day ready to seize opportunities.”
At the end of every day, think about what you accomplished.
It’s more important than ever to celebrate your small wins — and help your team members to do the same.
Send a quick note to your team when stepping away.
A heads up on when you’ll take lunch or a walk will help them feel connected while giving you space to recharge.
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