I've had this bad habit for years.
And I know many people around me in the working world have the same bad habit.
If I have to leave the office early, on the way out I'll tell my team, "I'll be online." I may be getting my teeth cleaned but darn it, I'll be online.
Productivity culture forced us to always be available
This instinct comes both from learned behavior around me and the self-imposed pressure of feeling the need to be reachable all the time. We place this undue pressure on ourselves to be reachable all the time. And we normalize it by responding to email, Slack, and other communication at all hours of the day.
I've even had a former co-worker post pictures from their wedding as it was happening in a team Slack channel. I was honestly dumbfounded.
But here's the funny part to me. It's widely accepted within the confines of the workday that there may be a delay in communication. There are meetings to attend. There is focused work to complete. And there is the ability to de-prioritize non-important email.
How many times have you had to bug somebody about an email you sent them? Then, once you step outside the office it seems like the rules change. Keyword there is seems.
But if we're being honest, nobody expects you to respond to them immediately, if at all, once you leave the office (or designated working time). It's all self-imposed pressure based on the "always on" ethos of our productivity culture.
How to control your time away from work
So, I encourage you to be mindful of your language.
Just say bye to the people around you. Don't tell them you'll be online. Since you don't want to and 99% of the time you don't need to be.
If you're looking for defense, I'd try the following three strategies:
- Verbally tell the important people around you something like, "I'm leaving at 3 today and will check in once quickly when I'm home around 6 or 7. See you tomorrow!"
- If you use Slack or some sort of instant chat tool turn off push notifications (always keep them off), mark yourself away, and set a status (i.e. "Gone for the day; at dentist)
- Turn on an email auto-response letting people know you are gone for the day and will respond to high-priority email in the next day or two."
You are the sole owner of your time.
When you say things like "I'll be online," you give up control. You don't just open up your front door and hope for the best. Don't do that with your time either.
Don't say "I'll be online." Just say "bye." 👋
Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?
Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.
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