In order to be productive we have to be able to do two things: focus on our work when we are working and relax after work to recover from the day. If we are unable to focus on our work we are unable to get anything done. Being unable to recover properly from the stresses of the day has a negative impact on our ability to be productive the next day. And so it goes on.
E-WORKLIFE was created by experts in digital distraction and work-life balance to provide you with evidence-based strategies to support remote working. It builds on a decade of our research into how to best manage our digital devices to support both the work and non-work parts of our lives.
Many people are finding focusing on work and relaxing afterwards difficult at the moment. It can be difficult to work from home if you are surrounded by distractions, whether these are from the people and pets that they live with, the fact that there are lots of home-related jobs to do, or that their devices are constantly sending them notifications. Others who live alone might feel distracted through the day by a desire to connect digitally with people whilst in lockdown.
Communication technologies are increasingly embedded in our everyday lives, impacting how we work and socialise. This can create expectations of endless availability which may lead to issues of work-life balance. Research has found a positive correlation between work interrupting non-work and stress, and if no measures are put in place to recover from our daily worries and stresses, other major health issues can arise, such as burnout. Therefore, achieving work-life balance is an issue that concerns many. A key factor to reaching this goal is feeling in control. With notifications interrupting and information overload overwhelming us on all our devices, it can be hard to feel in control.
The team from UCL, Northumbria University and University of Birmingham has been researching how people cope with work-life balance issues and the expectation of being always online. Their findings show that technology should be designed to be more in line with our values and make us stop and think when this is not the case. But it’s not all down to technology – individuals play a key role in managing their own work-life balance. They found that there are workarounds and strategies that people can put in place to make technology work for them, to align digital behaviours to personal values so we can be in control of work-life balance. These are microboundary strategies.
The E-Worklife website is full of useful strategies, links and resources – below is their index, but we really recommend you visit their website where you can also be guided through some self reflection, and access video content, and find out about the science behind these strategies.
- Understanding your own behaviour
- Reducing interruptions and digital distractions
- Managing email
- Manage expectations of availability
- Temporal boundaries
- Physical boundaries
- Digital boundaries
- Enhance mood and focus with music
- Recover from work by playing videogames
- Recover from work using music and soundscapes
- Control your exposure to blue light
- Recover from work by using digital technology to support social contact
- Recover from work by using technology to volunteer for science