This post was written by a member of the Debut Student Publisher Network. Check out Zaki’s advice on how to stop working before bedtime:
Ever feel like you just can’t switch off? You’re not the only one. Thanks to technological change, we’re more contactable than ever. Though some people find it easy to leave work mode the minute they leave the office, many of us struggle.
It’s not just in Black Mirror that people walk around with smartphones in hand all day. I’m certainly guilty of checking my inbox in nightclubs and taking my eyes off my favourite sitcom to leaf through emails. So here’s our guide to help you find that all-important work-life balance:
Turn push notifications for emails off
I make a habit of checking my emails a lot during the working day. This means I never need to have push notifications on in the first place. But if you have to, just get into the routine of turning them off when you finish work. Trust me, the last thing you want sitting down by the fire with a hot chocolate is for an email from your boss.
Even if that prompts you to switch your phone off, allowing that work-related thought to enter your brain could mean you might not be able to relax in the same way.
Try to avoid smartphone use late at night
Studies have discovered that using a smartphone before going to bed more than doubles the chances of a bad night’s sleep. Recent research found that children’s sleep may even be disrupted if their smartphones are in their room unused. They may be subconsciously engaging with them even when they’re not in use.
Sure, a quick dose of Instagram, Twitter, Tinder or whatever your go-to bedtime app might feel relaxing. However, the science seems to suggest that it’s healthier to stick to reading books, newspapers and magazines, or listening to music, radio or podcasts, in bed.
Find time to relax and socialise
We perform best not only when we’ve had enough sleep but when we’ve relaxed enough prior to heading to bed. Statistics show that outdoor activity helps sleep. But you don’t have to do lots of that.
The important thing is to find time to let your hair down. Whether that’s through exercising, catching up with friends and family, cooking and baking or going out for dinner or to see a film.
Set your phone to “airplane mode” overnight
Most of your friends are unlikely to text or message you in the middle of the night, but there’s a good chance somebody will. What if one’s in another time zone? Or just up really late and wants to tell you something before they forget to?
Make sure your sleep doesn’t get interrupted by someone sending a photo of a cat.
Give yourself a set time to stop any form of work by
When you’ve made plans to meet someone at a specific time, it can be easy to persuade yourself to stop work for the day. When you haven’t, and when you do some of your work on your journey back and at home, as I do, you might find yourself doing stuff which can be left to the next day. Some university lecturers now have a policy of not responding to emails after a certain time, and I’d suggest doing something similar.
It can be easy to forget that work emails are work, and guaranteeing yourself a certain number of hours off each evening (barring work emergencies) can help ensure that key balance.
Have separate work and personal email accounts
Initially, it might sound easier to stick to one email address. But this is conducive to letting your personal emails get in the way of work ones, making it easier to forget about an important work message because it immediately got swept down your inbox by ticket alerts or Wowcher offers you don’t even remember signing up to. And, more importantly in this context, keeping them mixed up makes it harder to switch off and stay away from work when you log in to your account with the intention of sending a personal email.
If you muddle them up, you’ll often find that you log in to email a friend or check what time your next gig starts only to remind yourself of a work email you haven’t sent, and find yourself spending 10 minutes rewriting it and proofreading it.