Does this sound familiar?
You’re hanging out at home when your phone vibrates with a work email. You glance at it automatically and your mind is pulled into work mode.
You start thinking about all the tasks you’ve got to do, the projects that you’re managing, and before you know it you’re stressing out.
“Work-life balance” is something that everyone likes to talk about… but it seems to be an impossible dream for most of the leaders we work with.
We encourage our leaders to create work-life harmony instead of striving for the impossibly high standards of work-life balance.
Life ebbs and flows as you go through different life phases and it is important to find your harmony for a fulfilled life. On your journey to find harmony, being able to unplug from work will help you be more present in other areas of your life and create the space you need to identify what you want.
In this post, we’re sharing four things you can do to unplug from work and be more present in your life today.
1. Set priorities
At Impact Business Coaches, we work with leaders to create what we call their Growth Plan. A Growth Plan helps you decide what your most important priorities are at the moment, and how setting goals around your priorities will help you meet the overarching goals for your life.
It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re working yourself to the bone to provide a great life for your family, but what if in doing so you’re not spending any quality time with your family?
A Growth Plan helps you step back and refresh your perspective, which is important for leading your life, experiencing joy, and creating a legacy.
What area of your life is most important to you right now?
If you had to give a percentage for how much of your time is spent thinking about or working on each of those categories, what would that look like?
For many leaders it can look something like this:
- Work: 98%
- Health: 1%
- Family: 1%
Working to support your family is important, but not being able to unplug from work and be present with your family can cause your relationships to suffer. We help you see that you don’t have to choose between your work and your family – you can create harmony based on what is important to you at this phase of your life.
It just takes some planning and follow-through.
The place to start is by getting clear on your priorities in all of the important areas of your life so that you can schedule your time and define boundaries to support your success.
We refer to the areas of your life as “accounts” because they’re like bank accounts and require consistent deposits. You can make deposits in your accounts with focused time and energy throughout each day. Your time and energy is renewable from rest, but it is finite within any given day, which is why you need to be intentional about the life accounts you’re investing in.
If you’re working from a Growth Plan, it’s customized for the phase of life you’re in right now because your most important priorities will change depending on where you’re at in life.
- Did you just have a baby? Your family account may require more of your focus and energy.
- Are you working towards a promotion at work? Your work account may require more of your focus and energy.
- Has your health been impacted by something? Your personal health account may require more of your focus in order to get better and have more energy.
Your life will ebb and flow – so your Growth Plan needs to be able to work with you to create your work-life harmony.
2. Schedule your time
After gaining clarity on your current priorities, you can create a schedule for how you’ll spend your time each day.
You can create different shifts or time blocks to allocate your time according to your priorities. Maybe each weekday has the same schedule, or they could be slightly different.
Here’s an example from one of the leaders we coach. She has kids in elementary school, so in order to create harmony between her work and family right now, she has created a schedule for her weekdays with different shifts:
Shift 1: Me Time + Breakfast
She is up before her kids to workout and get some “me time” and then she makes breakfast before getting her kids to school.
Shift 2: Focused Work Time
She goes into her office, turns off distractions and intentionally focuses on her work priorities and leading her team.
Shift 3: Time With Kids + Bedtime
She picks her kids up from school, does dinner, gets the kids to soccer practice/music lessons/gymnastics and then helps them get ready for bed.
Shift 4: Focused Work Time + Night Routines
She limits herself to one hour of focused work to respond to important emails to set herself up for success tomorrow. Then, she walks away from her devices and begins her nighttime routine to prepare for a restful sleep to recover her energy for the next day.
She has identified her priorities in this stage of her life and has committed to a schedule to support her success each week.
Having dedicated shifts like this example doesn’t mean that the kids don’t wake up early, or that work priorities don’t bleed into her time with her kids. But the schedule helps her identify what matters most to her at each point in the day, and confirms for her brain (and heart) that everything that needs to be done can get done in its own time.
Have you identified your current priorities? If not, take a moment to think about them now and then download our Daily Habit Schedule template to plan where your time needs to go to support success and create more harmony in your current phase of life.
3. Define boundaries
Once you’ve got your priorities identified and your schedule mapped out, you’ll want to create supportive boundaries.
If you refer back to the example schedule we shared above, it can be very easy for a working shift to bleed into a family shift. You’ve got to get very intentional about being mentally present where you are, or you risk burning yourself out and harming your important relationships.
A boundary can be to turn your work computer off at a certain time each day to shift into family mode. However, be honest and hold yourself accountable. You can leave work at 5pm but be mentally at work until midnight.
Having boundaries is one thing, but putting them into practice is another. One way that we help leaders shift between work mode and family mode is by encouraging them to take focused, heart-centered deep breaths for 5 minutes as they transition from work to home at the end of their day.
4. Take a deep breath and experience gratitude
Remember when you were a kid experiencing challenging emotions and your mom or another adult figure told you to “take a deep breath”? Well… science has proven that advice was right!
Taking a deep breath resets and balances your autonomic nervous system. This system is responsible for all of your automatic systems like your next breath, your next heartbeat, and your blood pressure.
When stress causes an imbalance, taking a deep breath balances.
Stress inhibits a small part of your brain and you can’t function at your best. You can learn more about how stress affects your body in the video below.
Taking a deep breath can help you destress. You can start by getting intentional about your breath. Focus on the area of your heart and imagine that your breath is flowing in and out of your heart. Take a few deep breaths… a little slower and deeper than normal.
Inhale to a count of 4, then exhale to a count of 4. And repeat this for a few minutes.
Just focus on your breath… and then turn your attention to how you feel. Think about something you are grateful for right now and experience that feeling of gratitude as you continue to breathe.
It’s easy to think about the things you are grateful for by practicing gratitude, but to experience real benefits in your health, you need to actually feel gratitude in your heart.
There are many benefits of feeling gratitude such as reducing stress, calming nerves, improving sleep quality, enhancing immune function, improving heart health and relieving anxiety.
Significant ROI from intentionally unplugging
As you can see, there is a significant return on investment for intentionally unplugging from work to be more present in your life.
Unplugging from work allows you to create deeper memories with friends and family. It recharges your batteries and helps you become more effective when you do go back to work.
You may also choose to unplug from work to serve your community – serving can be extremely fulfilling and another great way to fill your heart with gratitude and love.
Creating work-life harmony by clarifying your priorities , scheduling your time, defining boundaries, and intentionally unplugging from time to time will help you become a better leader in all areas of your life.
When’s the last time you physically and mentally unplugged from work?
Let’s chat and design your Growth Plan to support success in your current phase of life.