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I have many clients who sleep with their phones (literally sometimes closer to them than their partner😆). It’s the last thing they check before they go to bed and the first thing they do when they wake up.
There’s this sense of severe urgency to “just check” to make sure nothing was needed from them. Or “finish up” those last emails before bed (which by the way actually does ruin good sleep - most likely causing you to be LESS productive the next day).😒
They have their phones near (or setting ON - maybe flipped over) the dinner table. It’s like a beacon ready to “ding” at any moment and interrupt whatever flow of connection was trying to happen at that table. ❌
They take their phones on dog walk breaks or check and respond to notifications during lunch.
They are NEVER away.
➡️ And it causes hypervillence - a brain/body stress response of always being “on”.
➡️Causing a perpetual fear that they are missing something.
➡️ Causes them not being present for those who truly matter most to them in the evenings.
And when I dig deeper as to “why” they can’t not “be available” it usually comes down to 2 things. 👇
Reason #1 you may feel the urgency to respond quickly:
You want to be perceived as available. You don’t want to look like “a slacker” or not doing your work and you truly do want to help others out when they need help. While this is admirable, I would argue this mindset often gets in the way of doing GREAT work. 🧐
For most of us who work in non life-depending roles, our value is NOT determined by how fast we email someone back.
I would argue it’s the thoughtful response, the accurate information, the clarity of direction that is actually MORE valuable. And yes, it needs to be “timely”…but NOT immediate. 🎯
And often GREAT work happens when you have a block of uninterrupted time to actually THINK and work.
And this shouldn’t have to happen at night. when nobody else is working. Remember YOU have more control over your schedule than you think - you just need to start taking it. ⚡️
Reason #2 that often contributes to always needing to be available:
You may be (even only subconsciously) equating being “available” with being needed or important. And goodness, isn’t it great to feel needed sometimes? It strokes our ego and makes us feel like our work is important - that WE are important.
But, when people come to you for advice or something that needs to be done, they are coming to YOU primarily because they know they are going to get a QUALITY answer or information and again, if that happens an hour later or even a business day later, it’s still the same valuable information. 💥
And aren’t YOU important enough to yourself and to your family to give them all of you sometimes❓
3 Self-Reflection Questions
When I help clients with this, I often ask these questions:
1) What situations could or have come up during the day (or night) where you would legitimately need to respond immediately? Within 1 hour? Within even the same business day? 🤔
2) What type of boundary (rule with yourself) do you WANT to set? 🎯
3) Does it need to be communicated or just implemented?💥
5 Things You Could Try
⚡️ You could start small. Just leave your phone at your desk for your next break (take a walk, do some stretching, EAT LUNCH away from your email, yes - this means your break is NOT spent scrolling) 😋
⚡️ You could put yourself “away” in Teams when you are done for the day. This way, anyone who even tries to chat with you can actually see it. And if you feel it’s necessary, you can put a way to contact you for matters that need attending to before Xam the next morning.
⚡️ You could talk with your team or teammates about what situations actually require certain response times or escalation past working hours, and what that process should be. Then, instead of continuing to “check just in case” all the time, you know you will get an actual phone call or text or other notification if you are needed urgently.
⚡️ You could set focus time on your calendar each week where you start by working on your most important project, even before opening email.
⚡️ You could shut off your email notifications all together 😁 I don't get any "pop-ups" (less interruptions so I can do BETTER work) - and I always seem to still "see" an email before the day is done.
Bonus tip for Apple watch/phone users, set up the "Sleep" / "Focus" tool (Found under Settings > Focus). It automatically stops notifications (don't worry they are all there waiting for you when that time is done - AND you can choose to let notifications from certain numbers through - like your parents or kids school or husband). I have used the Sleep focus for awhile and LOVE it.
You are important and valuable (even if you don’t respond within minutes). 🎯