I once told an audience that I don’t believe in work-life balance, and that work and life shouldn’t be considered two opposing forces, but elements of one continuous lifestyle. I still believe this to a certain extent, but if I were to address that same audience again I would say that the goal of work/life balance is to make work and life function as two separate but complementary components. It’s a small distinct shift. This fall I have made it a mission to experiment with work/life balance and find easy, repeatable strategies that make the work and life function in tandem rather than in opposition. I’ll be blogging about these as I discover them – here’s strategy number one.
Clear your brain’s cache
The first strategy I discovered that really works well to refresh the brain was inspired by a camping trip. On the Labour Day long weekend I went camping with my cousins and completely disconnected from technology for the whole weekend, and the effect it had on me was incredible. When I turned on my out of office message on the Friday afternoon I was all wound up, tense from the work week and already stressed about the next week’s deadlines. Throughout the weekend we went hiking, swimming, canoeing and stargazing (we could see the Milky Way so clearly, it was amazing!), and I could physically feel the tension draining from my body. Coming back to work on Tuesday, I felt refreshed, strengthened, and ready to tackle the week.
I realize that it’s not possible to go total-disconnect camping every weekend, particularly with the colder seasons approaching, but there are elements from this that we can take and implement in our weekly routines. Since this experience I have made a habit of doing a daily disconnect, or what one of my friends aptly called “clearing my brain’s cache.”
Set a disconnect deadline
It sounds small, but simply giving yourself permission to take time for yourself makes a huge difference in mood and overall positivity. Every day, set a cutoff time…and honour it! When you disconnect, disconnect completely – no emails, no code, no proposals. Close your work computer and do something for yourself, knowing that any emails coming in can wait. Doing this enables you to be fully present in both your downtime and your work, because you’re less likely to search for
For me, my disconnect deadline varies day-to-day. My hours are flexible, so sometimes I’ll be disconnected in the morning and start work around 11, or I’ll disconnect in the middle of the day for an hour, or sometimes I’ll work until 7pm and then disconnect for the rest of the night. My point is it doesn’t matter when you disconnect, just that you make time to do so at some point during your day. This makes a big difference because when I disconnect, instead of feeling anxious about all the work I’m not getting done, I feel calm and optimistic, knowing that work belongs on work time and that this time is for me.
This photo series, shot by Mateo Yorke, was taken earlier this summer on a particularly beautiful day in Duncan’s Cove near Halifax. We had gone out with the intention of shooting some sunny looks, but what started as a clear day quickly turned misty as the fog rolled in right before our eyes. We were so far away that we lost clear reception and weren’t able to live stream our shoot on Periscope like we normally do. With the exception of music we were forced to disconnect, and it was one of my favourite shoots to date.
Photography by Mateo Yorke Photopathic
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I was wearing…
scarf: Evereve | blouse: Ralph Lauren Denim | jeans: Guess | boots: Timberland
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