Over 205 billion emails are sent around the world every day, which makes it the most widely used form of communication. And with the world now at the palm of your hand, it can be difficult to break the vicious cycle of checking emails, replying, and refreshing your inbox when you’re supposed to be on holiday. Here’s why you should disconnect this Christmas and how to go about breaking the habit on any holiday.
The risk of burn out
As the owner and manager of your own business, it’s easy to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It can’t hurt to peek at your phone, right? Wrong! According to research from AXA Healthcare, staying connected 24/7 through email and social media can mess with your concept of reality.
“Whilst the ‘rewards’ of communicating online are instantaneous, this isn’t necessarily a good thing and it can create an ‘always on’ state of alertness from which it’s a struggle to switch off.”Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services at AXA PPP healthcare explains. This ‘always on’ mindset can increase the chances of burn out, which counters the benefits of having a break.
According to the Future Work Centre, a constant stream of updates can be toxic and can lead to high levels of stress as well as interfering with the necessary boundaries between work and home life. Faye Smith, founder of Keep Your Fork Marketing, agrees. Although she might not seem like the type of person who would take time off from social media, with two email accounts, three phone lines and five business social media accounts, being constantly online isn’t actually for her. Smith has learnt that for her mental health’s sake, she has to take a break from it.
She comments: “If I’m out of the country I don’t connect my phone to emails, social media channels or the internet. Last year I went to Portugal with friends for ten days. It was bliss. No social media leaves time for contemplation and enjoyment of the now, not how the images will appear on Instagram or Facebook. Instead, I watched the sunset, read novels, played games and reflected. I rarely had my phone with me at all and the usual work stresses slipped away. The beach holiday resulted in a social media holiday which was much more beneficial to my mental health.”
Resenting your business
Chances are you love what you do, and its that passion that fuels you to work around the clock, if need be. However, there’s a difference between pushing yourself in short bursts for a particular (achievable) goal, and draining your energy and passion by staying on the hamster wheel without a break. If work constantly intrudes in your personal life, over time, you may come to resent it.
Customers and suppliers will understand
Look around the high street and you’re likely to see signs stating Christmas opening times at most stores. It’s a nationally celebrated holiday, so it’s only understandable that your suppliers and customers will expect you to cut back on your services. Let your regular clients and customers know of your Christmas hours in advance, and set up your out of office messages to prevent any miscommunication and manage expectations. If your business deals with products or services that are required around-the-clock, then now is the time to delegate and manage your team’s shifts.
Work life balance
There’s a lot out there on the benefits of a healthy balance between work and ‘life’, but for a lot of founders, work is life. And if anything, your work makes life all the more worthwhile. There is a concept called ‘work-life arbitrage’ coined by British author Richard Koch. He explains that the key to how much you work and how much you “play” depends on ‘marginal pleasure’. Compare the marginal pleasure you get out of spending an extra hour working, to the marginal pleasure you would get out of spending that same hour doing something else. If that extra hour at work is a pleasurable activity for you, then a sneak peek at your emails once in a while won’t hurt. Knowing your boundaries can be tough, but worth it in the long haul.