In which I ditch my work phone and leave at 4pm

Because, I am unashamedly more focused on my work-life balance than my career. Admittedly, that might be easy for me as I don’t actually have a career, but it’s the principle of the thing!

I did this a while ago, and I’ve been monitoring the situation to see what difference it’s made. And the difference is, life got noticeably better.

Ok, I’m a phone snob and what we were given was *snort* a Microsoft Lumia phone. I know. It was a really, really terrible piece of kit. As a fundamental flaw, it rarely rang, diverted straight to voicemail and then didn’t tell you for days, or sometimes weeks, that you’d got any messages. This is not helpful in a supposed business device. First, I took to doing all my calls on my iPhone anyway and just using the Lumia for email. Then I realised it was a horrible keypad as well, and I gave up on it completely.

But this is an important point, I think. If there is stuff in your life that does not work properly but that you have to interact with regularly, it is an unnecessary irritant. So why put up with it?

And really, do I need email on the fly? Well, no, I don’t. When I looked at how I spend my working time I’m either: (a) at a desk, with my laptop in front of me; (b) in a meeting, at which I should either be paying attention and therefore not using a phone, or not in the meeting at all; or (c) travelling to or from an out of office meeting. About once a month, I travel on the train, and that time is better spent catching up on back copies of The Economist. Or thinking about the work things I never get time to think about because I’m too busy on email.

Which leads to another reason to ditch the phone. Email simply generates more email, and it’s an efficiency trap. Or inefficiency trap. You will regularly hear, from all levels at the company I work for, that everyone thinks they get too much email. It’s the default communication system and worse, it’s become the default storage system. What I rarely hear is that people think they’ve got too much work. So even subconsciously, people don’t think ’email’ and ‘work’ are the same thing.

Extra ability to send or receive email isn’t a benefit. It contributes to the problem. As no company I have ever worked for has collapsed when I’ve been on holiday or off sick, I figure I’m not that important.  I put my out of office on when I’m in a lot of meetings or travelling, and that seems to work just fine.

The single downside I have noted is that I don’t have my calendar with me, and even this only comes into play when I need to dial into a conference call and realise I don’t have the details. That’s an administrative issue, not a tech issue. As I’ve recently switched to bullet journaling for work as well as home, it’s pretty easy to fix.

What’s this whole leaving at 4pm thing, I hear you cry? Well. I started doing that because when I started my part time OU degree, I thought it would require me to find more hours in the week. (It didn’t, but now I have extra time anyway so win-win.) But anyway, I typically get into the office for 7.30am so 4pm seems a reasonable end time. I mark a hard stop in my work calendar every day at 4pm, and with a few exceptions, that is respected. I will turn down meetings that are happening after 4pm and I don’t answer my phone to work calls.

And, this is the best bit: because I don’t have a work phone, my email can’t follow me. I can’t ‘just check’ or ‘quickly follow up on’ anything.  I may not do anything amazing with that hour, but frankly, I’d rather get a load of laundry done than yet more email.

 

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