Although smartphones have made it possible to check emails and work from home, they have also begun to erode the boundary between our work lives and our personal lives. It’s become more and more difficult to escape our 9-5 lives in our at-home hours, but research is showing that it can be beneficial for your mind and your health.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the U.S. Army found that on-the-job workers who were cut off from office email use for five days experienced more natural, variable heart rates and switched between computer windows only half as much.
Participants who were not on an email vacation switched screens twice as often as their counterparts (37 times per hour versus 18). These workers were also in a state of high alert, resulting in more constant heart rates.
The findings are so compelling that, reportedly, some employers have begun brainstorming ways to implement the email vacation into their workdays. If your office isn’t looking to schedule email vacations, though, take it upon yourself to schedule your own email vacation. Here are a few things you can do to get the email monster off your back.
Turn Off Push Notifications – If your work email is accessible via your phone, disable notifications for that app/email client. You won’t to be burdened with constant alerts that you’ve received a new message, and if there’s no alert icon displaying how many new messages you’ve received, then you won’t be tempted to check them during your off hours.
Set a Cut-Off Time – Chances are that you work in an office where it’s common for you and your colleagues to work past 5 p.m. If that’s the case, and there are coworkers who may depend on getting in touch with you even after you’ve left the office, then implement a cut-off time for yourself. If you don’t want to be bugged with work concerns after 6, then make it known that any message sent to you after 6 won’t be seen until the next morning. Once they know, you won’t have to feel guilty about ignoring new messages.
Don’t Take Work to Bed with You – If you can’t set a cut-off time for yourself, at the very least keep work out of the bedroom. If you find yourself reaching for your iPhone when you can’t sleep at night, stop yourself! Your chances of sleeping and getting the rest you need (and undoubtedly crave) are much better if you just relax, close your eyes and leave the phone on the nightstand.
Morning ‘Me Time’ is a Must – Avoid or limit the amount of time you spend checking emails in the morning. If you absolutely can’t wait til 9 a.m. to check your messages, then at least restrict yourself to only checking them after a specific time. The less time you have to spend dealing with stressful work matters, the lighter your stress load will be.