When You’re Not Working Don’t Work

The title sounds a little obvious doesn’t it? Disconnecting from work may sound easy for a lot of people, but with more communication and business happening online, it’s something that can affect a lot more people than 10 years ago.

At Automattic we like to say we’re shaping the future of work. There’s a book and many articles about us. Running a completely distributed company has its ups and downs, for the employer as well as the employee.

As an employee it’s nice to be able to work from anywhere in the world. After I wake up in the morning, I can be sitting at my desk and working a few minutes later. The laptop is always there though, which can make it difficult to achieve a work-life balance. It’s easy to always be available.

At some point you have to trust that other people can fix things when you’re away or if you’re needed for an emergency, your colleagues will contact you via a phone call or text message. I have strong feelings about the work-life balance and it’s something I often try to convince fellow Automatticians about. It wasn’t always easy for me though. Over the years I’ve made a lot of changes and learned how to disconnect.

  • Moved all work email out of my personal account (before we had official company accounts).
  • Remove work email from my phone.
  • When we started using Slack I made it a habit to stay logged out on my phone. I only use the mobile app when I’m on a work trip because it’s much easier to coordinate and ping colleagues through the app than putting everyone’s info in my Contacts.
  • I assigned my personal blogs to a different WordPress.com account than the one I use for Automattic blogs. This way I won’t see notifications from any of our internal blogs on my phone or when I’m not working.
  • I keep my work and personal computers as separate as possible. Any shared apps between the two aren’t sending me notifications about work.

Do you work online and have any other tricks or habits?

It may be harder to disconnect from work for other jobs. For example, my Dad sells real estate and his cell phone number is on all of his listings. He is always getting phone calls, so it’s very hard for him to disconnect unless he completely turns off his phone, which usually isn’t a very good option.

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