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?

The empty desk

The ‘Old Man in the office’ has retired. Most of us thought this day would never arrive as he seemed to re-invent himself and move to different teams every time his retirement date drew near. He delayed his departure for a couple of years until he finally made the decision to leave for good.

On his last day at work, he walked the floor and said his goodbyes (taking full advantage of the hugs from all the ladies). As he neared my desk and I watched his face, I saw real sadness. I guess after working at a place for so many years, you do form a bond and a strong connection with both people and everything around you. It becomes your world. Saying goodbye is hard.

I always lecture myself about work life balance and ensuring I am not too ‘attached’ to work. But I saw this quote the other day and it kind of made some sense to me.


Yes, work life balance is important but I’m surrounded by some individuals who give it 110% every single day. There’s a passion and a drive about them that’s highly contagious. It keeps me coming back for more, thirsty for that next challenge.

I’m going to miss the Old Man, especially his terribly rude corny jokes he used to tell. I’m going to miss hearing him complain on the phone and getting upset in meetings when people talked at the same time. I’m going to miss him asking what I’ve got in my lunchbox. I’m going to miss tweeting about his silly mannerisms. In a weird way, I’m even going to miss him asking me, “Brony, would you like some coffee, tea or me?” Awkward. 

Goodbye Old Man.

Exactly how candid are your conversations?

In a world that is constantly changing, under strain and with people working in abnormally stressful environments, you often find that corporates send their teams to workshops in order to master EQ, communications and other skills. With so many personal development areas to focus on, the one area we often ignore is how to have candid conversations with others.

Group work to discuss issues

Group work to discuss issues

So I found myself sitting in one of ‘those’ workshops today and while we engaged in insightful conversation and at times, quite emotional sharing, it was only when I got home and read some of my notes that I realised just how powerful some of the statements I had written down were. You don’t need to be in my workshop to use these statements and make them relevant in your life:

  • Self-awareness enables us to respond vs. react.
  • Inquiring brings out the other person’s view.
  • Waiting to talk is not listening.
  • People change and forget to tell one another (and even themselves).
  • Reality clashes with plans.
  • People are uncomfortable with real.
  • I’m going to show up as ‘myself’. Show people who I am.
  • Be here! Right now, in this moment.
  • Know who I am and what I am about in all my conversations.
  • Keep reminding yourself daily of what outcome you want in life.
  • No one is able to keep up with the level of change – protect your immune systems. You only have one.
  • Why is it so easy to disappoint yourself, but not other people?
  • Perceptions = Reality.
  • In every conversation, there’s my story, your story and our story.

The final message of the day was finding that balance in life/work (keeping up with those friggin walkers!). It could be gym, a run after work, walking the dogs, a good meal or even a favourite TV show. But give back, both to your body and your mind. Remember to reward yourself. You deserve it!

I encourage you to read my list again and pick out that one relevant statement that speaks to you and make that change!