The Importance of Not Being Available 24/7

BUSINESS icon Giles Cadman April 10, 2018

Welcome to my newest series! I started this series because I strongly believe you can be successful while still being human. In fact, I’m living proof of it. However, I was tired of reading the lists of all the things you shouldn’t do in order to be successful, so I’m here to provide a list of things that you should be doing.

Something that is near and dear to my heart is the importance of not being “on” all the time. I enjoy my own time off the grid and I respect the time off of those who I work with. But I’ve noticed there’s a new expectation that we’re all supposed to be available all the time. It’s something I just don’t agree with.

Studies show we’re all working longer hours

For example, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2017 figures show people in the UK are working increasingly longer hours. In fact, Londoners spend about three weeks longer at work each year compared to the rest of the UK due to long hours and lack of vacation time.

This seems similar in the US, where a recent survey found 67% of respondents said they work on a typical weekend. It seems for many, working on the weekend has become normalized, with 63% saying their employers expected them to work on the weekends!

I’m all for hard work, but this is worrisome. What happens to family time, vacations – even things like family meals together if everyone is working? And I don’t strictly mean office, face-to-face time, either, I mean answering emails in the evenings and the expectation to monitor emails during the holidays. I think these things are a sure-fire way to head straight for a collective burnout.

So how do we cope with these new expectations?

This is why it’s important to take time to be “off” and to be quite honest, I don’t have a problem with being a little hard to get a hold of sometimes! I understand it’s different for me as a business owner, but I’m hoping to lead by example: you don’t need to be available 24/7! The world will not end without you if you don’t answer the email right THIS second! I repeat, the world will be fine.

That being said, I do have a few coping mechanisms up my sleeve. Every industry is different, but I find these to be helpful in my day to day life. Feel free to comment any thoughts you may have as well!

1. Only check your email a few times a day

This is a productivity hack that I love. As you may know, I travel a lot for work. Any given day, I might be in the US, BVI, UK, or Canada. If I left my email open during the workday, I would never get anything done. I check my emails a few times a day and will respond as quickly as possible during those sessions.

2. You can take some time to respond

Especially if it’s in the evening. You don’t have to respond to messages unless it’s an absolutely urgent matter. It’s your time to relax and prepare for the next full day and people need to get more comfortable with the idea of waiting.

3. Turn off email if you’re on vacation

If I’m away on a shooting trip, you will not find me checking emails on my phone. A vacation is a vacation and your mind can’t relax if it’s still seeing updates from the office. Turning off Gmail notifications isn’t a horrible idea if it’s for a short period of time.

This is how I avoid the expectation of being available all the time! I know it can be a struggle, but this is just one of the many ways to be successful, but stay human. How do you avoid the overwork culture? Comment and let me know!

Giles Cadman is Chairman of The Cadman Capital Group, a group of cohesive, complementary companies, operating in the international trade, retail, leisure, and investment markets. Learn more about Giles.