Take A Cue From France

France, like much of Europe, takes a much more relaxed view of work and its place in life. The nation is known for a supportive labour regulatory framework and the 35 hour work-week (Germany also has a 35 hour work week, which doesn’t prevent it from being one of the most industrious nations in the world). Now, it’s gone a step further in preserving its citizens off-duty time by making it illegal to check work-related email after 6 PM.

If you live in a country other than France, it’s still legal to check your work email at all hours, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. You don’t need to cut yourself off entirely as soon as you’re out of the office – in fact, if you’re as hungry for success as I was, you’d find such a constraint extremely chafing – but there is more to life than your work, and you need time to be yourself. If you don’t give yourself  a break, you’ll soon find you’re over-stressed and overwhelmed. Everyone recognizes that the body is not a machine and needs a break, but the mind is just as much an aspect of biology as the rest of the body. If you’re always in work mode, your brain never gets that break – and nothing has the power to intrude on your life at all times like digital communication. If you’re worried about response times, set up an email autoresponder for your breaks. That’s how I keep up with my customers while still holding on to my personal time.

So take a cue from France, and give yourself a cut-off when you can be away from your work email and focus on the rest of what life has to offer. There’s more out there than business email.

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