The Email Rule That Will Help Create A Better Work-Life Balance When You Work From Home

These days, it's hard to escape the effects of hustle culture. It's an overwhelming feeling that if you're not working hard all day and well into the night, you're not going to ever reach the vocational heights of the Elon Musks and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. In fact, Musk himself once tweeted in 2018, "nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week." That's a pretty strong message that can influence a lot of employees, freelancers, and work-from-home/remote workers to "rise and grind."

This mindset has led American workers to put in an average of nine hours per week of unpaid overtime, per Time. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that the increase in overworking is also likely due to the rise of the gig economy, working from home, and the proliferation of mobile devices used in work settings, which leads to the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life, per NPR.

Achieving the perfect work/life balance, and having clear boundaries between the two, is essential for well-being, especially for at-home workers who have to have business meetings in their living room, and sleep near their office! If you want to clearly define those boundaries, it turns out that being stricter around checking your emails on your phone could have untold benefits. Here's how.  

Use your bed for sleep, not work emails

Are you checking your work emails on your phone in bed? You're not alone. In a 2014 survey of workers done by Good Technology, 50% said they checked work email while in bed. 68% checked it prior to 8:00 a.m., and a further 38% regularly checked it at the dinner table (per Mother Jones). That's a lot of work spilling into your leisure off-hours!

If you're an at-home worker, your bed really and truly needs to be your bed. Half Half Travel suggests only checking your emails in your designated home office space, and insisting that areas like your bed or your living room are solely used for your leisure time. 

If you're finding it difficult to stick to those rules, perhaps you might want to move to France! Not just because of their croissants and marvelous fashion, but also because of their strict labor laws that can help you disconnect from after-hours work. In 2017, the country enacted the "right to disconnect" law, per BBC. The law required all businesses with 50 or more employees to enforce a ban on sending or replying to after-work emails in an effort to ensure employees are fairly paid for work. It also prevents employee burnout by protecting private time.

Avoid using your personal phone for work

At some point in your employment, it happens: your boss includes a work smartphone as a perk. If it's the latest iPhone or Android, and the data plan is covered by the company, it can be awfully tempting to forgo your own personal phone and use your work phone for everything in your life.

Indeed notes that consolidating your mobile presence into just one phone is not only cost-effective in a way that leads to real savings, but it's also just much simpler to pare down! However, that is where you might run into trouble if you're trying to maintain a distinct boundary between your work and off-work life.

Half Half Travel writer Becca gave her personal experience with blurring this line, saying, "My biggest regret in my 20s was opting for my work phone to be both my personal phone and my work phone, so there was literally no escape from work."

Fast Company agrees, saying that using your work phone for personal use can lead to breaches in your privacy. On top of installing applications that can track your location, the outlet described the experience of former Google employee Rebecca Rivers, a transgender woman, who lost a trove of personal data when she was fired. "Everything on my phone that was not backed up to the cloud was gone, including four months of my transition timeline photos, and I will never get those back," she said.