Switching off

We’ve all experienced the phenomenon of feeling like our brains are fried. The constant multi-tasking and the inability to put down our phones and properly set barriers between work and personal life is costing us our mental health.

Whilst it’s not easy, and life will definitely force you to battle competing priorities, there are a few simple things you can do to manage those boundaries better.

Avoid taking electronic devices in the bedroom. Charge your phone somewhere else in your house. Don’t read your iPad in bed. Buy a simple alarm clock so you are not dependent on your phone. Read paper books in bed—although your kindle is safe and exempt from my definition of ‘electronic’. (For more information on the effects of screen time at bedtime, read thisthis or this.)

Put work phones away after hours. I have even tried putting mine in my safe. You can also simply switch it off or use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. Don’t bundle all your email accounts into one app. Keep work email and personal email separate (for a variety of reasons) and turn off app notifications or change their settings. (Click here for iPhone and here for Android.) Sometimes the simple habit of making it difficult to access the phone stops you from looking at it.

Limit your social media time to once a day. And put a time cap on it! Even better, stand up while you are looking at social media rather than lying on the couch. Mentally, for some reason, I find it best not to look at social media first thing in morning or as one of the last things I do at the end of the day. Instead, reacquaint yourself with old hobbies or do the things you wish you had more time for.

Start your day fast. By this, I mean get up and get straight into some exercise. It need not be a 10km run. It could be yoga or skipping or push-ups. Or go for a walk. Meditate. If you’re time scarce, keep it short. You will feel good, and best of all it’s great for your health. Not to mention you’ll do it using the same amount of time you would’ve spent on social media or checking emails.

Always start your day with a to-do list. Keep it short and ideally write it the day before. Whilst some prefer electronic to-do lists, be realistic about your ability to avoid the other distractions on your device such as social media, email or chat apps. Complete as many tasks offline before switching on your email and being bombarded with new priorities.

You will be pleasantly surprised at the sense of calm and control these minor adjustments will give you.

Suresh Shah, Pathfinders Enterprise

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My thoughts in writing above, are inspired by a write by MathewChapman, Mentor HR Leaders and Build HR Teams Across the World

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