Written by: Vince Morales, Senior Level Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
What does it mean to be unable to disconnect from work? Do you never come home from work? Increasingly, this is becoming a problem. With so many people working from home, personal and work-life boundaries quickly fade. What this means is we are not disconnecting from work. We find ourselves thinking about our job when we should be spending time with our families. We are checking work emails at the dinner table. We are even trying to get a last little bit of work in, curled up in bed with our laptops before going to sleep. In short, when you cannot disconnect from work, there is never a moment when you are not working in some capacity.
How does being unable to disconnect from work hold us back?
You would think putting all these extra hours into your job would get you ahead, which is not always the case. First, this constant connectivity will destroy your personal life. Second, you are telling your boss that your time is not valuable. If that is the case, you are inviting yourself to be used relentlessly in a way that does not compensate you for the diligence you show in the process. How do I spot when I am unable to disconnect from work?
You can disconnect from work if you can never put your phone down because you feel you must be on call, checking your emails, or doing other work-related tasks outside the typical workday.
If this seems extreme, ask yourself honestly how often you think about your work. Of course, everyone has passing thoughts about their job, and when your job starts interfering with your personal life, this is concerning. But the best test? Ask your family if you are having trouble disconnecting from work. You might be surprised at the answer.
How do I deal with being unable to disconnect from work?
First, figure out what boundaries you need for a healthy work/life balance. How much of your day do you want to spend working? How much time do you need for yourself? How much time do you wish to give to others? Other things to consider:
“Own and defend the perimeter of your boundaries. Your boundaries are not a community issue. Do not give eminent domain to your employer or any other “beast” prowling about ready to consume your territory.” – Vince Morales
What are your job responsibilities?
Some jobs do require you to be on call. For example, if you work in the medical field, it is common to need to be reached when you are home. If your job does not require you to be on call, you might want to question why you are putting in all these extra hours.
What are the boundaries?
Were you told you would need extra hours when you got hired? What is the company policy for working overtime? Are there unwritten rules within your company that dictate you need to put in extra hours if you expect to get ahead? Or are you already working outside of the boundaries established initially?
Years ago, I was starting a new job when one of the managers and I discussed overtime. In my attempt to show I was willing to put in all the overtime necessary (to prove myself to the managers somehow), the manager warned me, “Be careful about feeding the beast. The beast will gladly consume as much as you are willing to feed it. When you have nothing to give, the beast will demand more of you. The beast moves on to its next meal when nothing is left.” I never forgot that sage wisdom, and I can be steadfast about that balance.
Own and defend the perimeter of your boundaries. Your boundaries are not a community issue. Do not give eminent domain to your employer or any other “beast” prowling about, ready to consume your territory.
What Constitutes an Emergency?
It is common to work extra hours during an emergency. There is a difference between an emergency and a routine. What about when the trouble is over? Sometimes during a disaster, we spend extra hours and forget to revert to a regular schedule when the emergency is over.
How Should You Be Using Your Vacation Time?
Are you taking time off for yourself? When you have trouble disconnecting from work, it is likely to have difficulty enjoying vacation time. Try leaving the work laptop at home. Or, set a schedule if you must check in from time to time.
Vince Morales, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Vince Morales is a mindset, self-image, and resilience coach. In addition, he is skilled in leadership consultation and development. From April 2016 to June 2017, Vince was a homeless veteran in San Diego, CA. While homeless, he made a powerful decision to change his thinking and mindset, launching into life coaching. He developed a niche for resilience and mindset coaching. The growth of his business ultimately led to the end of his homelessness. Vince is the Founder of Validus Coaching & Consulting, formerly Zoe Transformation. His story has been featured in online articles and online news outlets all over the U.S. He is a certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer, & Speaker, as well as a motivational speaker. In 2021, Vince earned his Master's degree in Psychology of Leadership from Penn State University and is currently a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in Performance Psychology. He is a 2020 inductee into The National Society of Leadership and Success.