Success never magically fell into my lap. When I was fresh out of college, I knew that to be recognized in my career, I would have to hustle. This meant always making myself available to work, even if that included late nights and weekends. Most millennials recognize this as “the grind,” chalking it up to a necessary means to be able to indulge in our best lives from Friday to Sunday. While this lifestyle isn’t uncommon, being online at all hours comes at a cost — burnout. It’s easy to get run down when there is no separation between work life and personal life, which is why I decided to stop checking and responding to work emails after-hours.
Almost a decade later, I still burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines, but now it’s on my own terms. Once I adopted the transformational bliss that is unplugging, I noticed a drastic improvement in my performance at the office as well as my personal happiness. Here are four benefits that I experienced when I committed to this work-life habit:
1. Reduced stress
Adding email to my phone used to be the first thing I did when I started a new job. I felt that if I didn’t check or respond to every daunting ping, I would somehow fall drastically behind in my work by the time I got to my desk the next morning. Once I overcame this fear and quit the habit, my stress practically disappeared. When I physically deleted my work email from my cell phone, I was able to mentally disconnect and recognize where the workday ended and my personal life began. Now, when I come into work each day, I feel more motivated because I’ve had time to enjoy my personal life without the chimes of Outlook to disturb me.
2. Healthier lifestyle habits
Working around the clock took a serious toll on my mental and physical health. Several years back, I was working at a small digital marketing agency where the CEO barely uttered “thank you” to me for working until 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. I regularly answered calls at 9 p.m. and did whatever it took to meet his ridiculous demands. Thanks to always being “on,” I became anxious, developed headaches, and had difficulty sleeping. Despite serving as a stepping stone to a reputable and well-known consumer agency, it was certainly a lesson in putting my health first and helped me realize the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace.
To step out of a toxic work environment, I recommend setting an intention that will separate your work life from your personal time. Whether that means putting your phone in airplane mode for the evening or sending an email to your team that you’ll be offline for the weekend, there are shortcuts you can take to obtain your ideal work-life balance.
3. Supercharged brain power
Whenever I was working on a project non-stop, I never had time to look at it with fresh eyes. This stunted my creativity and problem-solving abilities, which I didn’t even know at the time. Now that I have evenings dedicated to my own passion projects, I find that I’m able to tackle projects with a clear head and new perspective when I arrive at work the next morning. For me, self-care is a necessary practice that reconnects me to what’s most important. Sometimes it’s as simple as settling into a quiet night of making dinner and catching up on Netflix. Other nights, I am working furiously on a short story. No matter what I choose to revitalize myself with, my workdays are better for it.
4. Better prioritization
When I was looking for tangible ways to stop myself from refreshing my inbox, I read a lot of articles about what successful people do. Between the tips to go for a jog at dawn and meal prep on Sundays, turning off your work email stood out as a tried-and-true lifesaver. I now swear by it because I’ve witnessed the benefits firsthand. Aside from feeling more relaxed, healthier, and recharged, the other advantage that I’ve noticed is how I prioritize my workload. Because I know I won’t be online once I leave the office, I come in to work with definitive goals in mind for the day. If there are 10 things I need to get done, I categorize them by urgency and focus on the tasks that require the most diligence. This practice keeps my concentration steady and on track and adds structure to my days.
Stepping away from the digital noise after working hours has made me happier in my own life, and surprisingly, more productive at work, too. As much as I care about moving forward in my career, without having a clear break from work to focus on my personal life, I wouldn’t be half as good at my job. It’s important to analyze work challenges and outcomes, but without time to reflect, it’s easy to lose sight of the lessons we need to learn and grow from.
When she’s not writing about the money-saving hacks that helped her save $25k in a year, Sasha is taking to the skies with her sister Melissa. Their Instagram account, @JetsettingJunkies, and website feature their travels from all over the world. DM Sasha for money tips and advice on traveling often and cheaply!
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