Recently I came across an interesting article on HC Online titled ‘Time for an email curfew’. As someone who routinely sends emails late into the night, early in the mornings and on weekends, I was very interested to read about US health-care consultancy Vynamic’s decision to ban their staff sending emails between 10PM and 6AM during the week, and at all on the weekend. Dan Calista, CEO of Vynamic is quoted as saying “You get an email. You’re trying to sleep. You happen to look at it right as you fall asleep, and the next thing you know you’re up thinking about it. All it takes it that one”.
While my immediate reaction was to think of all the reasons this policy is both impractical and constraining, upon further reflection I think it makes a lot of sense. As Dan Calista points out, if people really want to write an email over the weekend they can – they just can’t send it until 6.01am Monday morning. Policies like this one not only protect those on the receiving end of the equation, they also encourage the sender to stop and reflect on whether or not it is in their best interest to be working.
The reality is most people are likely to face the challenge of demanding workloads and deadlines from time to time. I am no exception – in the foreseeable future it will be difficult for me to avoid all late evening, early morning and weekend work. However, what I know from many years of fighting the work-life balance battle is that when I fail to take time off my performance suffers. Like most people I meet, my capacity to focus, emotional resilience and optimism unquestionably deteriorate when I am tired and in need of ‘soul food’.
With that in mind, here are ten rules that can help you maintain healthy balance in life:
1. Look after yourself: if you aren’t happy and healthy your capacity to succeed or help other people is dramatically undermined.
2. Make your own needs matter: People pleasers find it particularly hard to create balance because they sacrifice their own needs to meet the expectations of others.
3. Take time to be with just you: Allow time and space for your mind to be quiet, allowing you to reflect on life, happiness and the choices you need to make.
4. Waste time: our obsessive focus on the scarcity of time makes many people anxious about wasting it. Spend time doing nothing productive … it can be the best thing that ever happened to your productivity.
Diet and Exercise
5. Don’t accept excuses: tell the ‘poor me, I’m tired, I really can’t do this’ voice in your mind to be quiet and get on getting active. Movement is an essential part of recharging your battery.
6. Choose food wisely: know the foods that make you feel good and those that weigh you down. Choose those that give you the energy you need to keep up with life.
7. Value togetherness: you don’t need to be doing anything particularly exciting or special to benefit from the energising impact of spending time with people you love.
8. Talk: share what is going on in your world and mind. Too many of the busy, stressed out people I work with don’t share how they are feeling with the people who love and can support them the most.
9. Have Hobbies or Interests: Find something you LOVE doing and create time to do it. It doesn’t need to be anything creative or even productive. It can just be something you enjoy for the sake of it.
10. Participate in life: Choose to experience the wonders of the world around you. Being busy and distracted can rob you of the opportunity to observe where you are, whom you are with and the amazing things all around you.