Zoom fatigue from back-to-back meetings. The “always on” feature of 24/7 internet access and connection to anyone. Feeling like a slave to, vs. a master of your phone, laptop, or tablet. The seemingly endless to-do lists and projects, and your energy and attention being pulled in different directions. Any one or a combination of these circumstances can lead us to mental and physical depletion or burning out. 

 

The truth is, we are not robots. We weren’t designed to be on the go all the time. We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS. Just as we routinely fuel our vehicles and get tune-ups so they continue to run at their best, we must allow regular “pit stops” for enabling our best performance and staying vibrantly resilient in our marathon of life.

 

If you looked at your calendar now, how much white space would you see in your typical workday? For us to sustain a healthy rhythm and pace, we require breaks throughout our day. Taking such pauses is not a sign of weakness or laziness. In fact, granting ourselves periodic intermissions allows our brains to function more powerfully. It elevates creativity, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. Consider the times when ideas come to you in the shower: that’s because your brain has been allowed to wander!

 

What does disconnecting look like, tactically, on workdays?  

 

Here are some ideas:

  • Instead of scheduling 60-minute or 30-minute back-to-back meetings, play with 45-50-minute or 20–25-minute meetings. 
  • Set your phone’s alarm to go off every 60-90 minutes, where you step away from your workspace. Do some squats, bounce up and down or stretch in a way that’s pleasing to your body.
  • When you complete a task or meeting, before moving on to the next one, give yourself a transition pause. That might look like mindful breathing, reciting a mantra to release/discharge the previous task, or setting intentions for your energy and outcomes for the next task.
  • Designate one day a week as a meeting-free day.
  • Get outside and leave your phone behind. Take in the fresh air, sunshine, the expansiveness of the infinite sky. At a minimum, look toward the horizon, as far as you can see. This is an effective neurological reset. You can use this at any point in the day: popular times are during your lunch break, in the newfound time you gained from shorter meetings, or at one of your 60-90-minute breaks. 
  • Take a 25-minute mid-afternoon nap or a fun/creativity break.
  • Set a hard stop to your workday, where you shut down your laptop and exit/close down your workspace for the day. This includes a stop time for reading/responding to work-related messages until the next workday.
  • Have a deliberate transition period at the end of the workday before continuing with the rest of your day. That could be a brief walk, putting on a favorite dance tune and dancing/singing along, lighting a candle and playing soothing music, yoga stretches, or sitting quietly.  
  • For the remainder of the day have phone-free zones, such as during dinner and in your bedroom. Suspend all screen viewing 1-2 hours before bedtime, to enable quality sleep.

 

Don’t wait until weekends or your next vacation to disconnect from work. Challenge yourself to experiment with at least 1-3 of the above ideas during your workweek: make it a game! Over the weekends or on vacation, take the spirit of these tips with you. Peel further away from the phone and other technology that pulls you into the black hole of the web, messaging, and mindless scrolling. Remove apps or disable notifications. Instead of always looking down at your phone when bored, waiting, or when you have free space, use that as a trigger to look up and be present: pause and notice what you see, hear, taste, smell or feel.

 

When we allow ourselves to disconnect in these ways, we help prevent burnout while reconnecting to ourselves and what’s important to us. When we give ourselves breathing room to simply be, it allows us to hear the voice inside that’s always there, guiding us to what’s essential, how to tend to our well-being, and be at our best. 

 

This article was written in partnership with getWise - a technology platform that provides on-demand expert advice for small businesses and women to accelerate their business or career.  

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