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?

Juggling life without dropping balls

You need to regularly invest in a relationship if you want to regularly get dividends from it. – @leadingguru

Is it just me or does it feel as if in our everyday lives, it’s sometimes difficult to know and to decide what comes first and  what takes priority when it feels as if everything is important.

I make lists of important things to do at work but the list just gets longer and longer. I skip gym for 2 weeks and when I go back, my fitness levels have dropped. I don’t brush my dogs and the lounge is full of dog hair. I am leaving nail polish on my nails for far too long, hoping to get away with it. I buy hundreds of books but don’t get around to reading them. Magazines are piling up next to my bed and I still have not finished reading the June edition of Shape. I am still trying to get through all the PVR’ed episodes of Gossip Girl which ended weeks ago…

But somewhere in all the middle of this mess, I have lost touch with those I love the most.

As any runner knows, you have to find time to train, to run races and to rest. If you let anyone of these drop, the others will suffer. If you don’t train, you don’t do well in races. It’s only when your body is injured that you are forced to rest. It’s a constant juggling act to ensure that you get it right.

It’s the same with relationships. Unfortunately, it’s only when something goes wrong that you realise you’ve dropped the ball. And it’s only when you realise loved ones are hurting that you realise you have not paid attention. But by then it’s too late.

There’s way too much going on in our lives to put everything first. There’s too much to do, so much to get done and so many people to keep happy. It comes down to making the right decisions, negotiating with yourself and to compromising. If you get it right, let me know…