Learning How to Unplug Like a Boss

Thursday, December 17, 2020

With the advent of multiple technologies making immediate access to communication — and work — as easy as a quick swipe of the smartphone, it’s hard to unplug these days.

This is especially true for supervisors, who typically work longer hours and face greater responsibilities. But burnout can affect everyone, supervisors included, and many are finding that their inability to recharge is leaving them drained and less productive at work.

To help you disconnect for a bit, we’ve created this list of tips that will hopefully help you to detach from work, get rest and replenish your energy.

Put your phone down and go out for a walk
Create other opportunities to not take your cell phone with you. You may consider skipping bringing your phone into a meeting or even leaving it home for a day. This is difficult, we know, but it can help you not only disconnect from work but be more present for those people actually in front of you. You may also find yourself contributing more during meetings.

Consider giving up that smartwatch
We’ve all had a conversation with someone who kept staring at their phone or reading constant notifications on their smartwatch and felt frustrated because it felt like they were not paying attention. That’s because, odds are, they weren’t. Many studies have shown multitasking is a bit of a myth. In truth, the human brain can only handle so much information at once, so it’s best to focus on one thing or project and then move on to the next.

Delegate authority
This is hard for some supervisors for several reasons, among them the belief that the supervisor can do a better job than the employee, lack of trust and a reluctance to invest time or resources to develop employees enough to help them perform a task. Delegation, however, is an efficient way to redistribute workloads, develop employees and build trust within a team. Although delegation may require you to carefully consider which employees within your team are best suited for a particular task or even provide some training to bring them up to speed, the initial investment of time will free you up later.

Don’t do something just because it ends up on your desk
Make sure you don’t become responsible for every task that lands on your lap because it does not seem to belong to anyone else. Find someone within your team you trust to do a good job and then assign those tasks to that person. You may also find an employee who performs tasks that somewhat align with the responsibility and give the task to that person.

Plan meetings or events and allow other employees to run them
Empowering others within your team or organization can be incredibly motivating to some employees, particularly those eager to advance their careers. You may even consider allowing employees to choose agenda topics and gather all necessary materials for such. At first, you could watch the meeting unfold without participating. But eventually, you should be able to completely disconnect and allow your team to completely run the meeting without you, again freeing up your time for other tasks or for needed rest.

Take vacation time
Yes, it’s possible to work hard and play hard. Make sure you schedule vacation time in advance and prepare your team for your absence. Plan ahead for coverage and delegate tasks if needed during the time you are away. Also, remember that managers set the tone for the rest of the work team. Inadvertently, a manager who does not take vacation is sending the signal that work is more important than rest, so think of this as an opportunity to reinforce an institutional culture that values a work-life balance. After your return, you may find that, in your absence, the organization was able to run well without you. This should hopefully give you enough peace of mind to make this a much-needed habit.

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