The Virtual Life: Going 'Out Of Office' and Staying There...

Going ‘Out of office’ is no longer just a physical act. It’s a mental process.

Before, it meant that we set the automatic reply, walked away from our desks, left the office

and boom you were out of the office!

Now, our work exists in our homes, on our laptops, our phones and tablets!

It’s more difficult to properly ‘walk away’ when you are taking time off.

Last week I took a long weekend, my first one since starting MVA (more about that later).

I worked overtime all week to make sure my clients were sorted but you still get that niggly feeling even if you’ve left everything in good shape.

The temptation to check your devices is a real struggle so, here are my tried and tested tips, for mentally going out of the office and staying there:

1. Tell your Colleagues/Clients well in advance when you are going to be off, what time you are logging off at and REMIND them.

This might seem like a no brainer and it probably is, but people do forget.

Remind them at the beginning of the week and ask them if there is anything you need to prioritise.

Remind them again the day before and ask them if there is anything else urgent that you need to deal with.

The last thing that you want is an urgent task being dropped on you at the last minute.

It will be much harder to switch off if you feel pressured and rushed right before you finish up.

In fact, it will probably have you reaching for your phone or computer to check if everything went alright!

2. Turn the computer off.

If you don’t use your work computer for anything else, turn it off.

If you have a laptop, put it in a drawer.

This is your down time and you do not need the distraction of seeing your computer.

“Oh, I’ll just log on for a second and check......” - No!

3. Get a dedicated work phone.

Having two phones, a work one and a personal one, is my absolute top tip.

People have been doing this for years, of course, but now it’s more important than ever because our phones can do so much more!

If you have a dedicated work phone, you can turn it off or put away when you are taking time off, while still being contactable to your friends and family.

I, myself, had one phone up until Christmas.

It worked fine at the start but as I began to get busier, I found that after I clocked off in the evening, my phone kept buzzing with notifications.

Emails, messages, voice messages.

I found it very hard not to look at them and respond.

Did the person on the other end expect me to respond straight away? No!

They just so happened to be working in the evening and were handing things over to me for the next day.

When I started working with people in different countries and time zones it got a lot worse because my phone would start pinging while I was getting ready for bed and even in the middle of the night.

Having a dedicated work phone means that you can switch it off or put it away when you are not working. No more notifications interrupting your time off!

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, or even anything close to the latest model, as long as it does what you need it to do, it will definitely help to separate work time from personal time.

4. Relax.

You have done everything that you can, honestly, you’ve probably gone above and beyond but that niggly feeling still sticks with you.

It’s time to relax now, you are officially out of office!

Do something just for you, after you have logged off and packed away your work devices, to help you transition from work time to personal time.

So, did I succeed in going mentally out of office and staying there last weekend?

I actually did!

Honestly, I was surprised with myself and proud at the same time for actually doing it.

Last Friday, I celebrated my 30th birthday, in level 5 lockdown!

Even though we couldn’t go anywhere, I made the point of still taking a long weekend, just as I would have done without restrictions.

*Just because we can’t go anywhere, doesn’t mean we can’t take time off*

Taking time off is important for both your mental and physical health.

You can still have fun with what you have.

I enjoyed eating cake, in my comfies all day! It was lemon drizzle by the way!

Until next time,

Ellie x


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