At this point, it’s been determined that work/life balance is a modern illusion. Even still, we certainly strive, albeit secretly, to achieve it. Blame the perfectionist in us, but the idea of striking a flawless balance between our careers and our private lives (aka friends, family, health, and hobbies) will forever be on our personal wish list. But there’s just one thing wrong with that utopian aspiration: It doesn’t exist. We all work far more than we should, and every minute we clock beyond regular office hours is slowly sabotaging our happiness. (Here’s how to leave work at 5 p.m., for reference.)
Even though we all know this, it doesn’t mean we always do something about it. With the average workweek exceeding 40 hours, the demands of our careers don’t always allow us to push back, but overtime is bad for our health. So how do we get a grip on our professional life so it doesn’t impact our personal one? We found a few sneaky (and very simple) errors you can fix before you burn out.
When was the last time you checked the details of your email signature? It might be worth taking a closer look and deleting your cell phone number. Think of all the ways in which people can contact you. Thanks to technology, there’s a myriad of communication channels to touch base at any hour of the day. So why does your cell number need to be in there too? This number should only be handed out to the people who really need to reach you in an emergency, but outside of that, your personal cell phone should be just that: private.
One of our team members recently contacted a fellow colleague on his cell phone when an urgent IT request came up outside office hours. Her justification was “Well, he shouldn’t have put it in his signature.” So if you prefer to be left alone when you leave the office, take that cell number off—stat.
While you might reserve it for long weekends and vacations, the out-of-office message is actually a great way to notify work colleagues and publicists that you’re unreachable after hours, too. It might seem small, but turning this notification on is incredibly satisfying. For many of us, there is almost a FOMO when it comes to turning your out-of-office on, as if you’re going to miss something important. But the truth is once the sender receives that automated message, it’s crystal clear to them that you aren’t available, even if it’s just for the night.
So do yourself a favor and set one up for when you leave the office each night. Of course, it won’t completely stop you from checking your email, but it means you’re not expected to respond immediately. And that’s a relief in a culture that typically expects immediate answers.
Scrolling through social after hours is one of our favorite ways to unwind. It’s in the same mind-numbing category as reality TV, letting the brain relax and tune out. But while it’s great to look at what your family, friends, or favorite celebrities have been up to, make sure you’re not checking in on work-related feeds. And we know how hard that is.
At MyDomaine, we work with so many amazing homewares brands, interior designers, chefs, and other lifestyle categories, so we understand that it can seem impossible to avoid these connections on social media. But it’s critical that you try. Why? Well, it might seem like fun, but in the back of your mind, you’re clocking up story ideas or thinking about that publicist’s email you haven’t responded to. If this is simply too challenging to ignore, then set aside some time specifically to go through those ones and be done with it. Or read a book instead.
For most desk-bound employees, eating at your workstation is a daily occurrence. We get it—who has the time? But really, your health and happiness deserve more than a sad salad while you’re staring at a screen. If you really feel like you don’t have the time, then think about the productivity advantages. According to a Fast Company report, taking a break—even for 15 to 20 minutes—will not only improve your concentration but also increase your energy levels throughout the day. Besides, the ambient white-noise hum of a café has been proven to enhance creativity. So there’s that.
But if you simply must eat at your desk, then please make it a healthy one—these meal-delivery services are quick and nutritious.
We are all guilty of it. We leave the office, eat dinner, and then open the laptop to get ahead for the next day (hands up if you do this on Sunday nights too!). But while you’re ramping up your productivity, you’re dialing down your efficiency. There are only so many hours you can work in the day before your capacity hits a wall and the quality starts to decline. In fact, science shows that productivity declines sharply when our workweek exceeds 50 hours.
Besides, think about the negative health implications from lack of sleep. About one in three Americans are suffering from sleep deprivation, and this is increasing our risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, mental distress, coronary heart disease, and early death. So limit the late nights and get some much-needed shut-eye. Your body and your work will thank you.
As editors, we’re invited to various events almost daily, but while they’re all amazing opportunities in gorgeous locations (often with the most incredible gourmet food), we simply can’t attend them all. If we said yes to everything, we’d never stop working (although we kind of feel that way anyway—that’s why we’re here). But the key is to be strategic. Choose to attend the events that really speak to you, have important networking opportunities, build relationships with industry figureheads, broaden your work brand into new areas, and enhance your professional profile—and that you’ll have a good time at too.
Did you know that more than half of Americans check their emails after hours? Which means many of us are also sending them then too. But it’s time we applied a little email etiquette 101. If you want a productive team, sending late-night emails will actually trigger the opposite. According to Harvard Business Review, “After-hours emails speed up corporate cultures—and that, in turn, chips away at creativity, innovation, and true productivity.” The truth is if you’re sending emails late into the night, it causes your team to feel like they should be working too—even if it’s 2 a.m.
Besides, you should be focused on unwinding, relaxing, and settling into sleep. Sleep pathologist Sharon Moore told MyDomaine, “Never, never allow screens to be in the bedroom. The blue light of digital screens switches off melatonin and wakes up the brain.” So stop the late-night emails. Your health (and your sanity) depend on it.
Ready to start turning back your professional life and turning on your personal one? Read our favorite book selections to get started.