My hours at work have changed recently and I now have one whole day off a week, I don’t work on a Friday. I was working 4 days a week, but worked a bit every day. I now work fewer hours, so have a whole day off. I am struggling. Let me be clear, it is me who is struggling, I am in no way obliged by anyone else to work in my hours off. Being clear and strong about asking for meetings on days that I am paid to work sits uncomfortably with me. I have difficulties switching off on a Friday, knowing that the email inbox is filling up, knowing that colleagues have fed back that I am difficult to get hold of.
I am very clear in my own mind that being effective is getting as much done as possible in the hours I am supposed to work. Despite that clarity, so far this Friday morning I have been diverted by my email inbox, albeit only for a few minutes as I remembered something I wanted to tell someone today rather than Monday. Of course I read and replied to a couple of other emails too.
I am trying very hard not to apologise for not being there today and also aware that the shorter week is making me feel less work-efficient than usual. Definitely needs some more work in my head though to relish and accept today as a day off and just put the work aside for a while, knowing I will be better at it on Monday if I do and that if anyone wants me to do more, they need to consider paying me for some more hours. Nope I feel guilty even typing that. Oh well, work in progress.
I have a real struggle with email and the concept of inbox zero. I like the concept, of course I do – a clear screen at the end of the day would be lovely. The reality is that I just cannot achieve it, I receive too many emails and email is my main way of working, I do spend half my day working in email format. Hopefully usefully, but maybe not.
Yesterday I was hit by the feeling that I have a lot of emails I have not responded to. So I disappeared down the rabbit hole of filing and deleting emails. I am still in the rabbit hole. Is it productive? I am really not sure it is, but I am not clear how else I go through weeks of emails and check what I still need to action.
There is of course the theory that if I have missed something, someone will tell me about it. But my team is in a busy period, so I am less confident of that as a work method.
And there is the additional theory that Outlook enables easier searching when you leave everything in an inbox, rather than filing in a plethora of folders.
I had become much stronger in resisting temptation to delete all emails, but somehow I have succumbed to the temptation of inbox zero this week. Maybe I need to compromise and just aim for clearing all of this month’s emails, in the hope that if I have not something from last month, then I will be reminded. What a 21st century problem! I need to remember that my work is not email, email is the tool I use for work!
I am slowing moving back into the word of social media and email … and blogging … after a break which I needed as I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed after a really busy period both at work and at home. A period which required a lot of email, a lot of texts, and hours and hours of mindless scrolling through Facebook in a futile attempt to switch off my brain.
So a family holiday provided the opportunity to switch off the tech as well as the routine. I did not leave my phone at home, that would have been inconvenient. And I did have a lovely time reading blogs on my phone. I read more books. I stared into the distance a bit more. But possibly not as much as I would have done had I not had access to the internet at all. I still ended up down a few rabbit holes online (should I buy a jumpsuit?).
But most of all I checked email. I couldn’t get to email, I had logged out, but I checked and checked and checked. I am addicted to checking email and I had no idea. I knew I was in gander of checking work email compulsively, so I just don’t have work email on my phone or personal laptop. I thought I had didged the bullet. But in week one of the holiday, I cannot tell you how many times I saw this screen as I clicked on the mail icon of my phone.
Even knowing there was no email behind the icon did not stop me from compulsively tapping it. I have now hidden the icon from its usual clickable place on my homescreen. Let’s see how long I can reduce that compulsion to check. At least I now know it is a compulsion.
And it is a compulsion that I suspect is the one causing my headaches, neck ache, and my eyesight problems. I have worn glasses for nearly forty years now. My eyesight is rubbish and – despite the headline, it still is. For the past year I have assumed that my glasses are just never going to correct my sight properly now that I am getting older, seeing into the distance has been a struggle, lots of blinking and squinting was happening. Guess what – that compulsive looking at a small screen was stopping my eyes from focussing on things in the distance. Several opticians have mentioned to me how bad our phones are for our eyes – not the phones themselves, but that compulsive need to keep staring at them when our eyes are supposed to be taking a break and staring into the distance.
Driving down a familiar route yesterday I was amazed to see landscape that has been slightly fuzzy for ages now. Miraculous. And hopefully a motivation to stop that compulsive email checking and just give my eyes a proper break.