Insight

How to switch off from late night emails

By Charlie Knight |

Night time half moon

 

Is there still such a thing as a nine to five job? Advancements in technology mean that many of us are finding it harder than ever to switch off from work. If you have a smartphone, tablet or even a smartwatch, you could find that your work life and social life merge. As that starts to happen, it could affect your mental health in more ways than you could imagine. 

In reality, having smart technology should make our lives easier than they once were. We no longer have to log in to our emails on our computer. Instead, they are there when we need them. The moment you get an email, your phone starts to buzz. There is just no ignoring the fact that someone, somewhere wants your attention. No matter where you are, you might feel the temptation to check your messages. So, why should you resist just that? 

Do you check your emails at home?

When you get in from work, what do you do? You might kick off your shoes, greet your family and sit down for some chill out time. Alternately, you might give your inbox one last check before you do anything else. If you are guilty of the latter, you need to change things. Sure, it might seem as though you're an excellent employee, but the truth is you could be hindering things. When you fail to switch off from work, you end up burning yourself out and causing yourself undue stress.

Relaxation time is as important as work time. When you have clocked off for the day, you need to have some time. That way, you can allow your mind to relax. If you never have this period, you will find that you struggle to keep up with simple jobs. Rest is crucial, yet so many people choose to deny themselves it. These days, the world of work is more stressful than ever. That is why it's so important that you make time for yourself. Only then, can you recuperate and give 100% the next day.

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How checking your emails stresses you out

It may surprise you to find that when you check your emails at home, you're causing yourself stress. People that assume dealing with things (emails) as they arise is the best way to be efficient. In reality, though, that is not the case. You might even think that working overtime is helping you get everything done on time. Well, research suggests that quite the opposite is true in most cases.

According to a German study, when you reply to emails out of hours, it has a terrible effect on three of your moods. A group of researchers published the study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Their hypothesis stated that when staff extended their work availability, it set back their moods. After testing 132 participants, the results were clear. The researchers found that people who were accessible to work at home had less energy in the morning than the others. They were also less positive and less calm than other participants. That means that people have a problem when they choose to open their emails at home. In the long term, this problem can affect your mental health.

One of the main issues is the fact that some workplaces have unwritten expectations. For example, many managers will think nothing of emailing their staff out of hours. While the bosses can't demand that their employees reply to emails, many many expect them to do so. That means that many young professionals feel that they have no choice. They feel that they have to be accessible when they are at home.

Tactics for avoiding work emails

So, how can you switch off when you're at home? Well, there are some things you can do, but it's not as easy as you think. If you have your email inboxes on your phone, you will need to find a way to ignore them. One thing you can do is stop checking them after 6pm, but that is unlikely to work. Instead, it might be best to delete the inboxes altogether. When you are at work, you can keep your emails open in a browser window. Alternately, you may want to download an app like Thunderbird so that your emails pop up on your screen.

If you no longer have your emails on your smartphone, it is harder for you to check them than it is now. That means that, if you want to check up on work, you will need to log into your emails on a desktop or laptop. It is unlikely that you will bother to do so at any point. You see, the problem with the modern world is that everything is accessible. Once you take a step back, you will see that it doesn't have to be that way.

How to avoid staying in 'work mode'

Turning off your email notifications is one thing, but how can you ensure you slip out of 'work mode?' These days, it seems like no one ever switches off. If you have a reminder app on your phone, you will find that it sends you notifications about the things you have to do. When you are relaxing with your family, the last thing you need is a reminder about the work you have to do tomorrow.

In the same respect, if you happen to have a Gmail calendar on your tablet or phone, it may give you event updates. While these notifications are useful in some ways, they can prove to be a hindrance. Let's say you have just settled down to eat your dinner with your loved ones. Five minutes into your meal, your smartphone vibrates. It's an event update about a meeting tomorrow morning. The moment you see it, you are no longer in the room with your family. Instead, you are thinking about work. You might find that your mind starts to wander to the things you have to say or do tomorrow.

When you have these apps, you will find that they interrupt your free time. They are likely to have the same effect on you as reading work emails does. That means that they will cause you stress for no good reason. The best thing you can do for yourself is delete them. You should not have these apps on your personal devices - you should only have them on your work devices. When you finish for the day, it's time to turn your work phone off.

Consequences of work-related stress

You might think that a little extra stress is no big deal, but you could not be more wrong. Work-related stress is a serious problem that affects many people in the country. In the long term, you could find that this issue leads to things such as depression and a lack of energy. Stress does not just affect you in a psychological way. In reality, you could find that continuous stress causes you to weaken physically. Often, things like obesity and heart disease are the consequence of this problem.

Relaxation techniques you can use

When you finish work for the day, it can be tricky to stop thinking about it. When you have a high workload, it is only natural that you would want to plan things out in your mind. Often, people find that they can't stop themselves from obsessing over simple tasks. That means that they never have a moment of peace.

If find it almost impossible to switch off, there are some relaxation techniques you can try. One of those techniques is mindfulness. This trick is a form of meditation and will help you to empty your mind. When you want to have a moment of peace, you should sit in a quiet room. You need to focus on something. For example, many people find that they can concentrate on colouring in pictures. (That is why adult colouring books have become popular in the last year or so.) There is a wealth of information about mindfulness online, which might just help you. Once you learn how to clear your thoughts, it will help you get out of 'work mode' when you need to do so.

How to support your staff

Of course, it's not just about you. If you happen to be a manager, you need to ensure that you support your staff in any way you can. One thing that you need to do is show them that they don't need to be accessible out of work hours. You should have a meeting with each staff member and let them know that you don't expect them to be available all the time. Once you make this clear to your staff, you will see a noticeable difference in them.

It is crucial that you support your staff in a psychological way. If you can see that someone is overworking themselves, you need to correct them. They might have a large workload that they can't manage. If that is the reason they work when they get home, you have to change things for the better. Take the time to consider how much work each person has and whether they can cope. If you encourage people to talk to you about their issues, you can help them excel.

Conclusion

The effect of over accessibility is worse than we could ever imagine. Sure, it is easy to make yourself (and your staff) available 24/7, but it is not healthy. If you want to perform well and get the best out of your team, you need everyone to have free time. Only then, can people unwind and come back refreshed for the next working day.

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Source: Vine 8


Charlie Knight

Written by Charlie Knight

Charlie has 3 years experience in digital marketing, helping B2B technology companies grow their businesses through inbound marketing before joining Vine Resources as Content Marketing Manager. In his spare time, Charlie enjoys travelling and the great outdoors, and he recently hiked from Mexico to Canada for charity.