I’m sitting here at my computer at 8.58pm, because no matter how hard I try, I cannot switch off from work. I have tried to watch Friends and that practical jokers programme that’s half hilarious and half ridiculous. I event watched about 20 minutes of Teen Mom, because I wrongly assumed that watching total trash would help me switch off. Nope. The urge to carry on working has won.
Technically, I’m not really ‘working’ because I am not doing business stuff, I’m blogging. I love blogging, and I do sometimes choose to blog in my down time. However, my blog is also important to my business, so maybe I am working after all. Either way, I can’t think about anything other than writing.
Perhaps it’s just part of the curse of being a writer, or maybe it’s because I keep getting reminded that all the successful bloggers out there are constantly posting, Tweeting, Instagramming and Vlogging. Every time I look at my phone I see an email telling me about a new blog post, or an Instagram post by another blogger that makes me insanely jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy writing blog posts, but there’s only so many words I can write in one day.
Lately I have been finding it extremely hard to shut down my laptop, toss my phone aside and live in the real world. I really want to be able to have a guilt free Netflix binge or maybe even get back into reading some dark crime thrillers again. I have renewed the book I am currently attempting to read like seven times, and now it’s telling me I only have three renewals left. These are clear signs that a line has been crossed, and I need to hop back over to the other side.
I posted an article on LinkedIn recently about what it’s really like to be freelance, and it appears I missed off an important point. Although everyone can have the same problem, those who are freelance (such as moi) tend to fail to have a clear distinction between work and play.
The boundaries are blurred, and you end up cruising through life on autopilot, never really knowing when you are officially ‘off duty’. There’s always something telling you to get back to work, the only way to escape the lure of work is to switch your phone off completely, which is pretty much unheard of these days. My passion for writing feels less like a talent and more like an addiction at the moment.
My mind has a million messages zooming around, it’s like someone is constantly prodding at my temples. I can always work more, write more, do more and achieve more. It’s very difficult to unwind and just ‘be’ when the digital world is filled with so many possibilities and avenues to exploit.
How am I supposed to accept defeat and stop working when there is so much more that I can be doing? I suspect a lot of people feel the same way. It’s particularly difficult if you are an extremely competitive person who puts a huge amount of pressure on yourself to succeed.
So what is one to do about this mind boggling conundrum? I suppose I should jot down some ideas and come up with some sort of a plan to stop this insane friendship between work and play. Work and play are two separate things, they don’t function together very well. They need to exist as two separate entities. I am starting to sound a little mad, but I am getting to a point. Promise. Here’s some ways in which you can stop work and play merging together and begin to actually enjoy your downtime.
- Switch off your phone when you finish work , or at least put it on airplane mode. It is the portal to your work, and it needs to be closed.
- Do something that signals the end of your working day such as having a bath, doing some exercise, meditating or cooking dinner. Doing these things will give your mind a new focus.
- Spend time with a friend or loved one. Don’t just finish work and ignore your spouse or housemate by playing on your phone or pretending you have work to do. Interact with them and enjoy your time with another human being instead of stressing about work.
- Get changed into your comfy clothes, make yourself a cup of tea (or pour a glass of wine depending on how your day went) and curl up on the sofa.
- If there’s some work related stuff that’s playing on your mind and it can be fixed, deal with it before you shut down for the day. It’s difficult to relax when you have something pressing on your mind.
- Review your working hours and set strict limits as to how long you are allowed to work and when you are happy to work (e.g. not after 7pm).
I definitely failed to switch off tonight and have been working/playing all evening without really relaxing. I hope you guys (and I) can learn from this and realise that there needs to be a clear distinction.