Sustainable Leadership: How to “Turn it Off” When You Leave the Office

      Most leaders have a very hard time turning things off. We have heard even more struggle with this as people are working remotely. Not only does technology make it possible to stay connected all the time but their office is now only steps away.  

      Work/life balance has been an ongoing conversation and dilemma for many years and now that most people are working from home, it continues to be a conversation, albeit a different conversation.

      Now we are not talking about commuting time and fitting it all in during regular business hours…the conversation has shifted to, “How do I turn it off when I see my computer sitting on my dining room table? Or I walk by my office and it is there staring me in the face ‘after hours’.... and I’ll just sit down and knock off a few emails after the kids go to bed.” 

      Setting expectations 

      How much we think we need to work is generally a two-fold issue…a personal mindset and a company-driven cultural expectation.

      What are the expectations you set for yourself and your team about results vs. hours of work? How often are you communicating with your team outside regular business hours or when they are away on vacation? How often are you answering other’s emails after hours? 

      Results from an Inc survey of Executive leaders and CEO’s from “150 Inc. 5000 companies” showed the following: 

      • 92% of respondents check work-related communication after hours
      • 56% do so almost constantly
        While on Vacation
      • 85% of execs keep up with work messages at least occasionally
      • 32% expect employees to check email 1-2 times a day

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      Turning it off to be present 

      Leaders that can’t stop thinking, worrying, and planning, report that their obsession with work turns into an epidemic that erodes their relationships and personal lives. Many of our clients confess an ongoing struggle in having important work issues occupy their minds while they are trying to enjoy time with their families. 

      When leaderaren’t able to be present in their personal lives, everybody suffers. As a leader, you don’t get the rest, enjoyment, and connections that you need to recharge your own battery, and your family and friends don’t get the deep connection they need in order to continually recharge the relationship.  

      Our clients aren’t alone in this struggle. According to The Energy Project & HBR org, 59% of workers are physically depleted, emotionally drained, mentally distracted, and lacking in meaning and purpose.

      This not only has implications for the individual’s health and well-being, but also their performance at work. It is so interesting that the reason leaders are ‘obsessing’ about work is that they want to do a great job and be seen by others as highly capable leaders

      In reality, according to many studies, the more someone prioritizes work over their general health and wellbeing it actually leads to decreased capabilities and capacity at work.  Sowhat a leader is trying to avoid, is what they are unconsciously creating! 

      One Way to ‘turn it off’! 

      Turning it off can be very challenging and is something many have to set a conscious intention around.  Here’s an exercise to help you and your team practice: 

      • Create an ‘end of day’ ritual. Block a 15-minute time slot on your calendar for whatever time you would like to ‘end’ your workday.  

      • If you are working on something and it is creeping up on that time slot ask yourself, “What do I need to do in the next 5 minutes to reach a completion point on this for today?” Then capture the next steps you need to consider in order to feel ‘complete’ for today, perhaps even blocking some calendar time to complete tomorrow. 

      • Do this for each item you have not had time to complete today. 

      • Make a list of the things you want to prioritize for tomorrow or rest of the week.  Getting them out of your head and down on paper automatically leaves the mental space for the important things you want to focus on as you exit your workday. 

      • Practice this 15-minute habit of ‘completing your day’ at the end of each day for 2 weeks. Identify the takeaways from conversations and meetings throughout the day. Block new actions in your calendar. Perhaps, review your next day’s priorities so you feel focused and prepared and can mentally leave it for today.  

      You can’t be a great leader if you can’t ‘turn it off’! 

      Taking time away from work, taking time to be present with your family and friends, taking time to focus on hobbies you enjoy, taking time to do nothing…these are necessary and important parts of leading a fulfilled life.

      When leaders can’t detach from their work, it almost always leads to burn out, personal crisis and lower performance, the exact opposite of what leaders strive for.  

      We’d love to hear the things you are doing to ‘turn it off’ in order to be present on your personal life and recharge your leadership battery!

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