Boundaries between work and personal life have blurred. You might feel like you’re always available and unable to disconnect from work. It’s never too late at night or too early in the morning to reply to an important work email. Even at halftime on Sunday morning, you’re checking in on work mail while you should be having fun with your mates. And when you finally get a week off, you still check your inbox every day. Because, you know, they might need you.

And you’re probably right. Your company does need you, or they wouldn’t have hired you. However, that doesn’t mean they need you 24/7. Besides, no one can give the best of themselves every single minute of every single day. Therefore, it’s vital to disconnect from work now and again. Schedule time to relax so you can keep working at full capacity and be the brilliant designer, account manager or investment banker they pay you to be. 

Use our 3 tips below to learn how to disconnect from work at night, on weekends and especially on vacation.

3 tips to disconnect from work:

Log out to disconnect from work

Log out of all your accounts, even email. Forget about Slack, Trello and Microsoft Teams. When you’re not at work, you’re not available. Simple as that. 

Why log out? 

If you don’t log out, I guarantee you that you’ll continue attending work emails at night. Clicking the mail or any other work-related app is so natural. You often do it unwillingly. You’re bored for a second and there you go: you check if you have any new emails or slack notifications. Even after logging out, you’ll still do this because it has become a habit. However, when you realise that you need to re-enter your password, you’ll be reminded of your good intentions to disconnect from work.

Consider logging out of social media accounts as well. Although for most people, social media is not work-related, it’s not a good way to disconnect from work. Seeing other people’s exotic destinations, fun parties or delicious meals isn’t exactly what your mind needs to find some rest. 

I even recommend giving your socials a break during vacation or weekends. Allow your brain some quiet time. You need that time off to process emotions and find inner peace. Think about your personal well-being and give yourself some credit: you can find a better and longer-lasting path to happiness than making people jealous with a picture of you and a sweet cocktail on the beach. 

Tips to disconnect accounts

If logging out doesn’t work, you can take some other measures to curb your social media and email use. 

  1. Set app limits on your phone. Limit email use to one hour per day, for example. After one hour, your phone will ask a passcode to continue. Let someone else choose the code, or this method won’t work. 
  2. Change your passwords. James Clear had his assistant change his social media passwords every Monday so he could work without distractions until the next weekend. I’m suggesting you do the opposite. Have a family member change your email passwords on Friday night, or before a holiday. 
  3.  Consider deleting the apps that most distract you. If not forever, do it temporarily. Delete Slack on Friday and download it again on Monday. Before you delete an app, make sure everything is saved to the cloud, though! 

Finally, if it is within your means, acquire separate devices for work and personal life. Leave work phones and laptops at work when possible and never ever take them with you on a holiday. 

Log out of your work accounts. Literally disconnect from work. 

Tip 2: Learn and spend time on hobbies

Use your free time to do something you like. Change your focus and engage your mind differently. It doesn’t matter if the activity is as mentally, emotionally or physically consuming as work. A change of focus is just what you need to disconnect from work. 

Besides, spending time on an activity that interests you releases endorphins, a.k.a. happiness hormones. They are notorious for reducing stress, killing pain and renewing creativity. It’s free and legal Mary Jane! No dealer needed. 

As we spend most of our time glued to the screen, your hobby is preferably away from it. Channel your inner Ronaldinho, Dalí or Vivaldi. Don’t set yourself any limits. Be creative! As best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert explains, children naturally find calm (and flow) in art and creativity. Adults, however, look for easier and faster solutions such as sex, drugs and money spending. Peace of mind is quickly achieved with these measures but it never lasts.

The key to making this tip work is planning. Add time for hobbies in your daily/weekly/weekend/holiday schedule. Use them as deadlines. This helps to be more focused at work. If you’ve got squash with Paul, golf with Brandon or a Tinder date with Heather at 6 p.m. on your agenda, you’re going to work hard to get your to-dos done in time. (As you see, some activities might be more motivating than others. I’m obviously referring to squash with Paul — wouldn’t miss it for the world.)

Disconnect from work by planing time for other activities that are important for you.

Tip 3: Escape your day-to-day life

Disconnect from work by disconnecting from your daily life. Our personal life is often so interwoven with work. Whether we use the same laptop, work from home or live with a coworker, few people have a perfect work-life separation.

The solution?

Escape. Not forever, but go somewhere new once in a while. Or go to your favourite park, café or barber shop on a free afternoon. Just get away from your daily environment. New input and triggers will help you disconnect. 

Many people mistakenly live according to some kind of 50 – 2 schedule. They work 50 weeks and try to recover during a short two-week holiday. This simply doesn’t work. Multiple short breaks work way better than one long vacation. And know what works even better? Short breaks on a daily basis. 

There’s no rocket science to it. Disconnect from work after hours, plan some extra time for yourself during the weekends and get on a plane or train from time to time. 

Disconnect from your daily life and find new triggers to disconnect from work.

Time to disconnect from work after hours

Draw those lines between work and personal life again. Disconnect your accounts at night, in the weekend and especially on holiday. Don’t let any work stress or notification interrupt your personal life.

Spend this newly-gained free time on your favourite hobbies and excursions to escape from your daily reality. Your body and mind will thank you. Yes, even your boss will thank you. Know why? Because by having a healthy work-life balance you’ll be happier and even more productive at work!

Finally, I want you to remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t feel guilty about disconnecting and taking it a bit slower once in a while. You still have many miles ahead. Besides, there’s no need to win. Completing a marathon is a huge achievement by itself. 

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Original photo by JP Valery on Unsplash

Sources and further reading about how to disconnect from work