Now, I know I lost most of you with the title of this post, but please hear me out! Like many professionals, my company has provided me with a cell phone so I can access my work emails while away from the office. I also use this phone to compose and respond to emails, open and edit work documents, and bill my time spent working on projects. As a result, my work phone has become my third arm. I feel naked without it, and I check it incessantly. Naturally, I didn't see anything wrong with my behavior...until I came across an article in Women's Health Magazine stating that our cell phones are a big source of everyday stress. Wait...what!
My regular Chronicle readers know that I am always searching for ways to destress. As I have said in the past, being a professional and dealing with the everyday ups and downs of Corporate America usually brings unintended and unwanted stress. We all know that stress can have negative effects on your physical, emotional, and mental health, and I'm not with that! So I am open to any and all suggestions to alleviate stress, including entertaining the claims in the Women's Health article.
After reading the article, I started thinking about the correlation between my work phone and stress. I then realized that treating my work phone like it is a third arm is sought of like working all day long...I am always "on." Even in those moments when I am supposed to be relaxing. And then it clicked...I need to cut off my third arm...not completely, but a little more than I have been in the past.
That being said, I started thinking of ways to cut back, and I came up with a few ideas that I believe will help me, and you, to minimize our stress and provide some much needed detachment from our work phones. In the interest of sharing, I have outlined my ideas below so that we can all work on destressing and taking a break from our work phones. Take them or leave them....but I'm willing to bet you'll be less stressed if you take them!
1. Revoke your phone's access to the breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables - A quick way to mess up the digestion process is to read an email that reinforces just how busy you are, or are going to be, at work. Use your meal time to relax and eat without checking your mail. Ideally, you can give yourself at least 2 hours per day when you are not focusing on your email and work.
2. Put the phone out of reach when it's time to go to bed - You can't read emails while you sleep, so don't have your phone within reach when you head to bed. I'll admit, I do keep my personal cell phone on my nightstand, primarily because I use my phone as an alarm clock. But my work phone is always tucked away in my work bag...on silent!
3. Keep the phone out of the bathroom - Let's face it, having your phone in the bathroom is not the most sanitary practice. Also, just about anything you do in your bathroom can be a relaxing and relieving experience. Why ruin this time by checking your work email! Instead of inviting your phone to share a bubble bath with you, take a magazine or a book or your iPod. Anything to help you chill out!
4. In the morning, try not to check the phone until you get to the office (if possible) - I don't know about you, but I use the time it takes me to get ready for work in the morning to get my mind right for the day ahead. If you're heading to the office anyway, why not wait until you get there to check your email. I always say that if someone needs to reach you urgently, they can always call. Give yourself the morning to get it together before heading into the office.
5. Don't check the phone while driving - Not only is it illegal in many states to use your cell phone while driving, but it is also dangerous. Leave your phone in your work bag or pocket until you are done driving...no checking your email. Instead, use your drive to listen to music or relax in silence. The best part about my commute is the chance it affords me to listen to my music, and sing to the top of my lungs, and not care if the person in the car next to me is looking at me like I'm crazy. It's sort of like therapy!
That's all I got for now! Can you think of any additional times and/or places where you should ditch your work phone? Share in the comments below!