How many times do you check your phone throughout the day? How often to you check your work email outside of office hours?

According to a study revealed in a session on Social Media Week, the average adult checks their phones 30 times a day while the average millennial checks their phones more than 150 times a day!

In fact, a survey showed that 39% of people check their work email outside of standard work hours several times a day. And 81% admitted to checking their emails on the weekend, and 59% checked their emails while they were on vacation.

However, the urgency we feel to answer emails is exaggerated based on our own expectations. Only 12% of people expect their emails to be responded to within 15 minutes of being sent while the majority expect a response within a few hours or within the work day.

So why do we stress ourselves with checking our emails constantly throughout the day and replying to emails as they come in? And many women, despite their positions of power don’t set digital boundaries for themselves or their employees out of fear of being accused of being not hard enough or focused on productivity.

The reality is, the incessant need to check our phones or answer emails immediately is actually counter-productive. It disrupts the flow of the work day and leads us to do much less in the day. When you add up all the minutes it took to pause from work just to open our phones and check an email, you’ll discover how much time was misspent.

Here are three steps to setting digital boundaries for yourself while still meeting realistic expectations:

1. Set Expectations

Regardless of your position at work, you should communicate with your team or boss on how often you check your emails. Set boundaries by letting them know that although you have answered their emails well past office hours before, this will not always be the case. Your co-workers will respect whatever boundaries you set as long as they are respectful and professional.

If you’re decided on checking your emails or your phone less frequently, set a schedule for yourself. Checking email can be an addictive habit. And while it is ideal to only check your email three times a day, it is understandable if you can’t switch from the average of 30 times a day to only three immediately.

Start with scheduling a few times throughout your day until you’re committed to only 3 to 4 times a day.

2. Turn Off Your Non-Urgent Notifications

Those few seconds and minutes it takes for you to pause and check your notifications can add up. And if the average person checks their phone 157 times a day, that’s roughly 2.5 hours of time wasted checking for notifications that may or not be there.

Do yourself a favor and turn off non-essential alerts. Knowing that no notifications will come in will make you check your phone much less.

3. Keep Your Phone Out of Sight

Most people keep their phone on their person thus leading to us reaching for it way too many times in a day.  Do yourself a favor the next time you have deadlines to meet or an important lunch meeting and hide your phone. Keep it in your desk drawer or your bag and commit not to check it.

To attain the elusive work-life balance, we must start with setting reasonable expectations that start with establishing digital boundaries.

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