It happens to the best of us. We get home from a long day at work, fully intending to be present and play with our little humans in those precious hours before bath and bedtime, but instead we’re collapsed on the sofa checking our work emails.
Or even opening up our laptop for “one tiny bit of work”.
If I’ve just described you, then it sounds like you might have a problem with your work-life balance. But instead of telling you to lock your phone away between the hours of 6pm and 6am, I’m actually here to tell you that your iPhone could be the answer to achieving the fairer balance you crave so much. There’s an app for that. No really, there is.
Your calendar is your best friend
It’s not there to always remind you of pointless meetings. In reality your calendar, whether it’s work or personal, is an important tool that can help you divide up your time well and help you set boundaries.
Several people I work with use their diary religiously. Not only do they use it to book in meetings, they also use it to block out chunks of time that are to be dedicated to specific tasks, and only those tasks. They’ll do this at the start of every working week, so they know where their time is going, when they are free, and when tasks are going to be completed by.
Then, at the end of the day, that’s when the work stops. Because their calendar says so.
How much of your time is spent stocking up on household essentials? How long does the weekly ‘big shop’ take you? And when you factor in turfing the kids in and out of the car and lugging them around a supermarket, that time pretty much doubles. Kids, right?
So why not do all that from the comfort of your own sofa once everyone is tucked up in bed? Automating your regular deliveries from Amazon and the supermarket will make things so much easier; all you have to do is wait for them to arrive on your doorstep. So use those two hours to spend some quality time with the people who matter.
‘Do Not Disturb’ mode
Most, if not all, modern smartphones have a ‘do not disturb’ feature built into their settings. If you didn’t know about it already, you set it for certain times – for example between the hours of 7pm and 7am – and all notifications will be stopped. The icons will still appear, but the noise and vibrations will stop, unless they are from people in your ‘favourites’ list. Some also have features such as, the notifications will be reactivated if someone calls you three times in a row, as that’s probably an important call!
A feature like this is fantastic for helping you switch off in the evening. Your phone is still there and available for use, you just won’t be bothered by a new Twitter notification every five minutes, and can focus your attention on the present moment.
There’s an app for that
If you really can’t keep yourself away from the phone – and let’s face it, it’s something we’re all guilty of – then there’s a couple of helpful apps out there designed just for this occasion.
For example, Freedom (free for iOS) and Flipd (free for Android), allow you to lock yourself out of apps during a set period of time. This could be for Facebook and Instagram, your work emails or the ever-present Slack.
Whether you find yourself endlessly scrolling through social media and are only half listening to the kids argue over Monopoly, or if the phrase “just one more email” frequents your vocabulary, these kinds of apps will soon help you break the habit of distraction and procrastination.
About the author
Claire Crompton is the Co Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab. Claire has a passion for communication, a strong commercial focus and appetite to deliver consistent results for all clients.