Making Space for Yourself

by Rachael Forrest

At the clinic one of the most common things we see with patients is that there is no definite break between work and home life. Many of my patients leave the clinic at 6 where they have had a relaxing acupuncture session, only to go to back to work and/or take work home with them. Many people will go home and start working again until 10pm as well as working over the weekends.

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Many bosses don’t seem to see anything wrong with asking people to deliver work on a Monday morning meaning there is no choice but to work over the weekend. This means that everyone suffers mentally and physically, and relationships also suffer, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to better work.

This little video by Twitter Exec Bruce Daisley has some useful and practical tips for calming down your day. Turning off the notifications on your phone and computer is number one - such a simple thing to do but so effective. I’ve tried it for a day and it does make a difference. It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten all the things I have to do but it means I don’t feel pressurised or the need to rush into them. Apparently half of all people who check their emails outside work show very elevated signs of stress so this sounds like a no-brainer.

Taking a lunch break is the second biggest change to make. It may seem counter intuitive to walk away from all those emails but taking a break can make you more effective and efficient at work. Stopping for a bit actually will save you time in the long run!

Going into ‘Monk Mode’ is the number 3 tip. This means going somewhere where there are no interruptions and where there’s quiet, if not silence, and spending 90 minutes focused on what you have to do, without distractions. It’s amazing how much you can get done when no one is trying to ask you questions or pinging you emails or texts. This could be very difficult to manage in open plan offices and there is more and more research now to say how damaging these environments are (by raising stress levels and not providing a break from noise) but find a meeting room or a broom cupboard and see if you can spend 90 minutes working in peace.

Apparently MIT has discovered that one way to increase creativity in the office is by allowing people to chat (seems obvious, I know). They found that by putting the coffee machine, kettle and water cooler in different parts of the office it encouraged more interaction between staff and, once all the chat about last night’s TV was over with, people talked about work and generated new ideas.

Researchers have also found that stress is the biggest barrier to being creative in our jobs and having a digital detox at the weekend is vital to stopping the endless flow of input. Give yourself permission to turn off your phone and do not go near your computer unless you really have to. At least, don’t use it for work but be aware that, once it’s on, it’s very difficult for any of us to control what we look at.

We seem to celebrate people who work long hours but actually 40 hours is by far long enough to put into work. Any bets you’re not getting paid for more than that anyway. Try setting your limit for 40 hours and stick to it. I know these things are usually easier said than done but in the long run, if you’re thinking about your health - emotional, physical and mental - then it is vital to create some sort of balance in your life.