Removing my corporate email from my smartphone has definitely helped me in the areas of unplugging and recharging, and connection with yourself or others. Like many people, I like to be in the know and on top of things that impact or influence what I’m accountable for. Over time, this has resulted in having my work email on every screen that I owned except the television. I found myself reading and responding to emails seven days a week, any time of the day! I was reluctant to remove my work email from my smartphone because I was afraid of missing out on something.
I soon realized that I was missing something — moments that truly mattered with my team, my family, and myself. I was struggling to be present in any setting. Then there was the incredible burden that I placed on my team and others as they wrestled with whether or not a response after normal business hours was expected. I was distracted in meetings at work and distracted when I was with my family. Honestly, I was even distracted when I was trying to prioritize self-care.
In early 2019, I got over it by giving myself permission to take back control of my time while setting expectations with those I work with around the best ways to communicate with me (e.g. email, text, voice, etc.). Being a part of an ecosystem that includes my team, my leadership, and our partners, it was extremely critical to set expectations with them.
Since having my work email on my smartphone is not a requirement but rather a choice, I’ve decided to use it as a tool when it serves me well. In my case, I get the most out of having email on my smartphone when I’m traveling for work. In those instances, as part of my packing routine, I reinstall my work email app and benefit from the convenience of staying up to speed on the business when I’m on the road. When I return from my travels and unpack my luggage, I also uninstall my email app.
This has been a very refreshing and liberating experience! And it’s also helped me set a better example for my team. It eliminates the need for them to feel pressure to respond to emails sent after the close of business and demonstrates the respect I have for their personal time. Additionally, I try to give my team permission, grace, and support for the tough choices they need to make with regard to calendar management and the calendar discipline that enables them to be successful.
Some advice I will share is to establish a set of guardrails that enable you to build your professional brand while protecting your personal time. If your professional brand is one that’s tied to how fast you respond to everything and how many tasks you take on, you’ve already lost the race. A professional brand that reflects thoughtful leadership, effective prioritization, critical thinking, and team trust will always take you farther and give you the space you need to be who you want to be outside of work!
Second, take action toward reducing stress and preventing burnout early and often! There are many times when we see the problem, but far fewer times that we actually take action on it. Taking action is the difference between managing your stress versus letting your stress manage you. This is a process that never ends. So, identify a set of actions, be intentional about reflecting on those actions after a period of time, and be willing to adjust or change those actions to match what’s going on in your life.
Here are some things that have worked for me over the years:
- Retail therapy — top of the list for me.
- At least one hour of thinking time each week.
- At least one hour of quiet reflection time each month.
- A no-guilt spa day at least once a quarter.
My joy trigger is my family — my husband, my adult son, and my college-aged daughter. I love our group text thread, which helps us stay connected as a family in real time even though we are living in three different states. When we’re together, we really enjoy game nights, cooking, and just hanging out. They really motivate me to be my best self on a personal level while supporting my career aspirations!
The Thrive experience serves as a good reminder that we’re making choices every day that have an impact on our bodies, minds, and souls. For example, I’m now choosing to put my phone to bed! Like most people, my phone usually rests on my nightstand. It’s the last thing I touch at night and the first thing in the morning. So now I’m practicing leaving my phone in a different room at night for the benefit of my well-being.