9 to 5 emails

When I returned to work at the beginning of January, I made the decision not to receive work emails on my phone anymore. The switch off during December had been wonderful and I decided it’s exactly what I need going into 2015.

MailboxI’ll admit it was hard in the beginning. I would randomly click on the envelope, more out of habit, and remember that my mailbox was not connected. But I stuck it out.

The first realization has been how much time I was ‘stealing’ from home-life by reading my mails. I sit on average 45 – 60 minutes when I get into the office in the morning, catching up on reading emails (that I could’ve read at home). Yes, so it may have saved me time at work, but it ultimately stole time from family and other things around the house.

The second thing I realized is that I needed to start re-prioritizing the important emails. I don’t know about you, but as that email pops into my mailbox, I tend to respond immediately and action it. Almost 90% are not even urgent. So then which are?

Having the support of my boss and team has helped and also encouraged a culture of true work-life balance. They know that if they need to get hold of me (and no, I’m not a Doctor on call so not even necessary) they can Whatsapp me. I also don’t expect of them to be online once they’ve left the office and prefer that they rather spend time doing non-work related activities.

But again, it is their choice, not mine. I know it’s not for everyone. Some people like to be connected and have the flexibility. But it was something I needed to do.

Does not reading my emails after hours make me forget about work? Surprisingly no. I never switch off. I’m constantly thinking about projects, ideas, goals, my team. Do I feel like I’m missing out on some major announcement or important information? Yes, all the time. But I am enjoying switching off more.

It’s been a good decision and time will tell if I’m able to stick to it. Ironically, I’m not alone. It’s becoming legislation in some countries, such as Germany as early as next year. What are your thoughts? What works for you?

If you need me, I’ll be at home

I’m pretty old school when it comes to my job. I believe in arriving at work before 8am, I’ll eat my lunch at my desk and if I have to, I’ll work late to ensure a project or deadline gets met. But there’s loads of new thinking around ‘where’ you work and corporate jargon such as mobile workers and hot-desking are becoming more and more popular. In addition, this concept of ‘working from home’ has been encouraged.

So on Tuesday, I managed to get out of cancel a workshop and alerted my team that I would work from home. It was all very new for me and I didn’t really think I would manage to get much done. Boy was I wrong. Here’s what happened…

I’m usually sitting in traffic from 6:20 until I get to the office at 7:15 (or sometimes later). But having no need to drive into the office it occurred to me that I had the extra time to either sleep in or even go for a run or get to gym. If I went for my usual 5km run at 6:30, I would get back home at the same time it would’ve taken me to get to work. Get outta here!

I didn’t go for my run or to gym but actually got started on work just after 7am. The house was dead quiet. There were no phones ringing, no loud colleagues, no disturbances. Just the laptop and me and yet I was always connected to my team as we emailed & Lync’ed one another all day long.

In between working through millions of emails, I occasionally walked outside to look at my garden and refresh my head. I might have stopped for a few minutes to check my Facebook feed and the news which I don’t get time to do during a ‘normal’ day. I even had time to stop and cuddle my dogs which I personally feel are all activities that are good for the soul. They loved it too!

When it got to 15h45, my laptop reminded me to leave work to get to the running club in time for time trial. Most afternoons, I feel so guilty when I leave but if I don’t, I can’t get to running or gym on time. On this day, with nowhere to drive to, I still managed to do an extra 90 minutes of work before I shut my laptop and went for a run. Yip, still managed to get out there. The amazing thing is that I got so much work done!

It has truly changed my mind about time management and working from home and I will definitely look for opportunities to do it more often. This WILL be my year of less stress, of giving back to my body, my mind and myself. In a smart way, of course!

(Image: Google)