Emails In Bed: Tips For Disconnecting

Are we any good at really switching off?

Studies have shown that many people aren’t and this leads to largely negative consequences.

Some survey findings reveal that outside of work, most people check their emails every few hours. The top three places for email checking? While watching TV, in bed, and while on the phone.

In all our effort to be on top of work, we seem to be impairing our ability to perform effectively. Compelling research has demonstrated that spending our leisure time ruminating over work can lead to a decrease in executive functioning.

This means a decrease in skills and cognitive abilities such as planning, working memory, and mental flexibility. Meanwhile, difficulty concentrating increases as a result.

Prevalent access to technology—and therefore work at our fingertips—poses an interesting situation for employees: the so-called Empowerment/Enslavement Paradox.

Though technology offers flexibility and (if used correctly) even a degree of work-life balance, it can also result in employees being constantly tied to their jobs.

In order to reap professional benefits from voluntary work-related technology use, we have to use it in more responsible ways.

Here's how to disconnect:

  • An EOD check. Before you head home, do a final check of your work email. See if there are any loose ends that need to be tied up before the evening. Anything else can wait until tomorrow.

  • Speak up if you feel pressured. Studies have indicated that many employees overuse work-related technology because they feel pressured to do so. If you feel comfortable, discuss non-availability and your wellbeing with your manager. This is a healthy discussion to have within a team, as well.

  • Set a time limit. If you absolutely need to follow up on something during your free time, give yourself a window of 15 minutes to do it. Don’t use any more of your precious recovery time.

  • Form a habit of staying present. It’s been shown that following up on work during leisure time can become a habit. This means you may have to practice being aware of how you are using technology, and opt to stay in the present moment instead.

  • Turn your phone off! If you’re really struggling with habitually reaching for your phone or laptop, this might be the way to go.

  • Use your down-time wisely. Fill your evenings and weekends with things you enjoy doing. This will mean you’re less likely to want to respond to emails. 

Remember that it’s not just about investing hours in work. For long-term success and wellbeing, we have to invest in our recover time as well!