Guest post by Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine
The “always on” work culture is on the rise.
Though the 40-hour work week has been somewhat of a gold standard for quite some time, according to the latest stats, it has been reduced to a relic of the past. It seems that a toxic and dangerous trend of worshipping workaholism which is being fueled by Silicon Valley has spread through the entire IT industry.
Many business leaders tend to glorify overworking and try to establish it as the new normal.
Elon Musk, for example, is famous for putting in long hours – 80-90 a week, in his own words.
But, this regime is a one-way street to burnout and different health issues. Stats say that 49% of people in the IT say they feel burned out.
Is it possible to work in the IT industry and be a high performer, while staying sane and having a personal life?
Learn How to Unplug and Disconnect
This is something that it’s of crucial importance for everybody, especially for IT professionals who spend a lot of time on their computers and laptops because of the nature of their work.
Certain tasks can be performed even if you’re sitting comfortably on your sofa or lying in your bed, which is every employee’s dream come true, right?
This also means that everything you can’t finish during your regular working hours, you can take home, and that’s a trap leading to eyestrain, headaches, fatigue, and stress; not to mention that sitting has been dubbed new smoking as it’s linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
You need to literally unplug and stay away from any kind of screen when you’re at work.
- Mute all work-related notifications
- Set boundaries by telling your co-workers and supervisors that you won’t take business calls in your free time
- Turn off your laptop and smartphone when you go to bed – instead of browsing, read a regular, physical book or a magazine.
Besides working long hours, the tech industry is also known as being tremendously focused on delivering results and meeting deadlines.
The combination of these three factors is responsible for a high burnout and turnover rate.
But, it was also among the first to implement flextime.
A lot of companies offer the perk of working from home or flexible working schedules.
This way you can make your own work arrangements and spend more quality time with your family.
However, flextime has its downsides – many people are susceptible to distractions which can completely overshadow the advantages of this concept.
That’s why it’s essential to have a quiet corner or a home office in which you can work undisturbed – we’ve already mentioned that working your bed isn’t the best idea.
Also, make a schedule and stick to it; inform your family that the fact that you’re at home doesn’t mean that you’re available for chatting.
In a nutshell, behave as if you were in your office and don’t treat telecommuting as having a day off.
Unwind With Your Co-Workers
Working in the IT industry can be a very solitary experience, especially for those who enjoy the benefits of telecommuting.
While it’s much more pleasant and productive to stay at home and work, while all the others are stuck in the morning rush hour, not being physically present at the office can take its toll on your relationships with your co-workers and a sense of team spirit.
That’s why attending different company outings plays an important part in getting to know your colleagues in a more relaxed, personal context.
As for work-life balance, it’s worth noting that people who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, have higher well-being, and are less likely to get injured at work.
A round of drinks once a week or a company-paid lunch every once in a while can help you establish and maintain the feeling of camaraderie, which translates into better productivity and creating a more pleasant work environment.
Team building events are also a great way of bonding with your workmates, and even if your company isn’t organizing any, you can make your own arrangements and spend a weekend in Prague, for example, as it offers great team building opportunities, great architecture, and microbreweries. And all that reachable with a two-hour flight.
Carve Out Me Time
This might sound like some pseudo-psychological mumbo jumbo, but it’s actually a very important tactic for maintaining a healthy mind.
Given that most jobs in the IT sector are sedentary, taking a walk or going to the gym a couple of times a week should be a must for every developer, designer, or technical writer.
A day at the spa or even a weekend getaway can do wonders for both your mind and body.
Taking an afternoon off every once in a while and dedicating this time to yourself entirely can be hard, especially bearing in mind that there are household chores that should be done, as well as friends and family to see and hang out with.
Making an appointment with yourself, just like you do with anybody else, is a great way of putting this important task on your agenda.
Despite the IT industry is highly competitive and result driven, it’s still possible to achieve and maintain work-life balance. Remember, the more you take care of your health and both physical and mental well-being, the better more productive and engaged at work you’ll be.
Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.