Do you feel as if there is no delineation between work time and personal time? Has the culture of your workplace made it seem that being available 24/7 is the ‘norm’. If your answer is ‘yes’ to one or both of these questions, you are not alone. The demands of working (on site or from home), connecting with loved ones, caring for children or elder parents, and attempting to stay connected with friends can be overwhelming. The days and nights seem like a blur of computer screens and smartphone notifications. Your body and mind begin to feel under siege and, without setting some boundaries, you will feel exhausted and burned out.
Learning to meet life in a more compassionate and productive way is possible. All you need is an intention to explore some new ways of learning to be more mindful, and the discipline to follow through with some small steps.
This simple mindfulness approach to boundaries comes in two forms:
- Transitions between segments in your work schedule:
Look for the natural breaks in your scheduled day and create an intentional boundary. Boundaries require conscious, disciplined choices. For example, your 10 am conference ends at 11 am. When you leave that meeting, take a few minutes to stand and stretch at your desk. Take a few deep breaths and exhale with a sigh each time. Invite your mind to let go of the interactions in that meeting and pay attention to how your body feels as you stand up and stretch. These few minutes belong to you. Use them to care for yourself and re-center your mind and body so it is ready for the next segment of your day.
A second example involves making the choice to really nourish yourself during the day. When it is time to have lunch, it is also time to transition away from work. Close the computer, leave your phone on your desk and mindfully walk to the cafeteria or kitchen. Feel your feet on the floor of the hallway and redirect your attention to those steps every time your mind begins to pull you back to work. If you are home with other family members, invite them to join you as you prepare lunch and connect with one another over a meal.
These short breaks are important ways to help you cultivate resiliency in a hectic schedules. Look for the ones that support you and make a conscious choice to integrate them into your schedule.
- Transitions between tech time and no tech time:
Although it may seem strange to even think about it, your smartphone and laptop have off switches. Choose to use them. At some point in your day, at least 2 hours before bed, and ideally more, turn them all off. And keep them out of your bedroom. If you have been relying on them to wake you up in the morning, consider investing in an alarm clock. Having tech right next your head while you are trying to sleep often interferes with deep, restorative sleep because a part of your brain is waiting for it to be ‘notified’. You take great care to keep your technology recharged. Do the same for yourself by disconnecting from technology for set periods every day.
This choice to leave tech behind for a while also will allow you to connect more deeply to yourself, family and friends. For example, trying to authentically connect with someone during a conversation or meeting with one eye on your phone is disrespectful. Think about it, when you are speaking with someone and they keep glancing at their phones, how does it make you feel?
Finally, create a ‘no tech zone’ for your house, and set aside ‘no tech hours’ for your entire family. You will all soon find that tech connections are no substitute for human connections.
Taking these small steps to draw some boundaries between work time and replenishment time is not a ‘nice to have’, it is an imperative if you want to live your best life.