How to switch off

hand on light switch

In a hyper-connected, globalized world, many CIOs find it very difficult to get away from work, even for a few precious minutes. This can be dangerous — people who never switch off risk going stale or, worse, burning out. So it’s important to find ways to get more balance into your life. But only CIOs who actively look for such a balance get to find it.


IT workers rarely get the chance for complete downtime. Over weekends and evenings, when others are focused on their personal lives, IT professionals are often the ones dealing with an unexpected systems failure or upgrade. They live a 24/7 life, even when they’re away from the office. Don’t believe me? Cut off your CEO’s smartphone on a Friday afternoon, and see how well your weekend works out …

Nevertheless, with a much-needed Christmas break on the way for many Western CIOs, there’s a chance for some meaningful downtime ahead. So what tips can you use for a more restful break — and which of them might you apply throughout the year to deliver at least the semblance of a better work-life balance?

  • Work harder. Say what? But actually, what we often need is not the chance to slump onto the sofa, but a change of tack: take the chance to learn something new away from work, or surprise your partner by cooking for a change, or go for that long-postponed run. The shift in mindset will do you a world of good.
  • Do unto others as you’d have them do to you. eBay CEO John Donahue balances a big job, four kids, and having a wife who works abroad as US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council. One tip he shares on how he manages all of this is simply to ask his colleagues and bosses for help. He was pleasantly surprised by the support shown by his bosses, who offered him greater flexibility to work from home, or the chance to work from a different location. And you can be sure he now offers similar support to others. Take a lesson from this.
  • Ignore your email. Some companies are actually deactivating the delivery of emails over evenings and weekends — not a wholly bad idea — but you don’t need to go that far. You could simply ignore your emails during your downtime. It is better than sneaking to the bathroom, while your partner isn’t watching, to email some urgent replies. In the vast majority of cases, your colleagues will figure out how to resolve whatever issue they had. Exhale.
  • Where possible, create an “offline” zone in your home. When you try to sleep at night, does your bedroom resemble a miniature server room, all blinking lights and buzzing alerts? Unless your job absolutely requires constant accessibility, consider banning all mobile devices from the bedroom. Your stress levels — and your partner — will thank you.

So while I’m delighted you’re reading this, I’d like you to make a plan to turn this off — along with all other digital distractions — to make sure you get a real break in the festive season ahead.Do you have any tips to share about how you switch off? Let us know in the comments below.


One thought on “How to switch off

  1. Having actually done this, switched off for multiple days over the Christmas/New Year holiday, it was sometimes painful. So much of our lives is connected at this point, that it is often a struggle to disconnect from technology… but something we must strive to do periodically. You hit some good points…

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