CommonSense Blog

Do We Ever “Sign Off” For the Day? – Thoughts from the Train

By Michael Petrone | Aug 19, 2015

I recently traveled to upstate New York for a weekend at my family home via train, and I couldn’t help but notice the staggering amount of travelers using multiple devices (me being one). Travelers of ages, from what I estimate to be 8 to 65 years old, were using tablets, phones, and laptops (some were using all at once!). Among these multitaskers were businessmen and women conversing with colleagues on the phone (eavesdropping at its finest); clearly, they were finding it difficult to disengage from the office.

About a month ago, the WCG Corporate & Strategy team released its latest CommonSense… For The C-Suite outlining the overwhelming amount of messages today’s society is inundated with each day, and the effect this is having on work/life balance. Today’s workforce is constantly connected to email and always “on call” in case something pops up. While technology continues to make our lives more efficient, it’s making them quite a bit busier at the same time.

What we’ve seen

According to research conducted by the American Psychological Association, a majority of working Americans believe communications technology has a positive work_lifeeffect on their lives.

  • 56% said it allows them to be more productive 
  • 53% added it provides more flexibility

However, being plugged-in 24/7 isn’t all fun and games.

  • 36% of employed Americans believe communication technology increases their workload
  • 34% said it makes it more difficult to stop thinking about work

Office landscapes continue to evolve, and more companies are allowing employees to work remotely (or have axed the traditional office setting all together). Today’s technology is shifting employees’ day-to-day realities as they no longer need to physically be at their desk to accomplish the task at hand. More and more, we’re finding that the workplace is wherever we are.

While this allows us to add flexibility to our schedules, it also increasingly presents challenges for us to find time to unplug and officially “sign off” for the day.

Tips for maximizing your work/life balance, unplugging and making time for yourself

Be Realistic and Transparent

  • When setting deadlines for work, make sure that you have identified and set aside the proper amount of time to finish the task at hand. If you have other deadlines or engagements you have already committed to, make sure you voice this to your manager and team upfront.

Set Aside Time for YOU

  • You cannot work for 24 hours straight, every day. Set time aside on your calendar for you! Whether it’s a gym class or a coffee date with a friend, this time should be specifically reserved for something you want to do. Having this booked on your calendar each week (and well in advance) will ensure this time is always dedicated to you.

Create a Routine

  • Do you wake up at the same time every morning? Do you drink a coffee and read the news, or go to the gym? Whatever you may do, make it a daily “to-do.” According to research from Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes exactly 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic on average. By developing a routine, you can start every day off by checking off an item on your to-do list.