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Here’s How You Can Break The Cycle Of Checking Work Emails Out-of-Hours

man checks phone in bed scaled

It’s one of modern life’s more annoying bugbears. You’ve just made a cup of tea, settled down to binge watch something on Netflix, when your work phone pings with an ‘urgent’ email from your boss.

The blurring of work and leisure time has never been so pronounced (and for many has been aggravated by recent working from home rules) meaning more of us are responding to emails in what should be our free time.

Now some are calling for out-of-office emails from bosses to be banned, to stop the rise in off-duty staff feeling the pressure to check their inboxes at all hours. According to the BBC, the union Prospect is calling on the UK government to introduce a “right to disconnect”.

While answering the odd email every now and again isn’t the end of the world, we all know it can easily become a slippery slope, where colleagues expect you to be contactable at all hours of the day. It can help trigger stress, anxiety and even burnout.

That said, if you’re a self-confessed workaholic, checking your emails isn’t always a conscious act, and it can become just as addictive as scrolling through Instagram and TikTok. Hence why it’s important to set boundaries with your free time.

Next time you have the urge to start burning the midnight oil on Outlook, here are some things you could do instead….

1. Do some life admin. It’s your free time, so why not prioritise yourself and book in that overdue dental appointment or haircut?

2. Knit something – it’s a great way to keep your hands occupied if you’re guilty of repeat-checking your phone.

Knitting GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

3. Stretch. Hunching over a keyboard all day doesn’t do any favours for your back and it’s probably in desperate need of some TLC. 

4. Take two minutes to water your houseplants – chances are, they’re probably more neglected than your inbox.

5. Plan your meal prep for the week ahead. That way you could recoup some time during your lunch hour too.

Wake Up Yawn GIF by Boomerang Official - Find & Share on GIPHY

6. Put your phone down and switch the radio on instead – then dance for three minutes to ward off the compulsion to read emails.

7. Just go to bed early. Giving up your email addiction can be as simple as switching off your phone and getting into bed at a reasonable hour.

8. Lock the email app on your device so once you’ve finished work it doesn’t appear on your homescreen. Out of sight, out of mind…