Why Not . . . Designate “No Work” Zones?
Wednesday December 20, 2017

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~The following post is part of the year-long series Welcoming in the Quality in 2017, One Month at a Time. To view other monthly topics touching on all arenas of our lives from style to money to eating well, click here

As the twenty-first century begins to edge near the end of its teenage years, the mindset in our professional worlds has included the assumption of fewer and fewer boundaries when it comes to where we work and where we don’t, as well as when we work and when we don’t. Part of the shift was exacerbated by the Great Recession beginning in 2008 when hustling to make up lost ground was a necessity, but the other catalyst was the accessibility to constant connection.

As a blogger, it is not lost on me that the draw of the internet and ease of access made available by our phones, tablets and for some of us smart watches, is enticing. After all, I sincerely enjoy hopping on my laptop and typing away (confession: as I began this post, I was in my bed in the wee hours of the morning because my mind was bursting with ideas, questions and I needed to get them down somewhere whilst I forgot them). In fact a couple of years ago I wrote a three-part series on mastering our technology consumption.

But I have found the choice to work and the choice to say no, when it is made by us rather than for us, when we consciously tell ourselves no rather than unconsciously reach for whatever device is associated with our profession (checking our email, finishing a project in our office, etc.), makes a significant difference in the quality of our lives.

When I write, I am at peace; however, when there is a deadline I have put off, it is work that I am tending to rather than playing, exploring, creating and dreaming. So as much as we need to be diligent about working well when we work to complete the tasks necessary, it is also necessary to say no to work to maintain a healthy balance.

More recently, and followers of my Instagram may have noticed, I have taken fewer images while walking my dogs. (This past weekend was a rare exception that came six weeks since my last – see above photo.) Why? Initially it was forced, as I had changed my phone carrier and didn’t receive the same service as sometimes in the past I would talk with friends while walking, but then it became habit – my phone would stay in my handbag at home while I walked. Especially during the school year, my daily walk is my sanctuary of separation from everything, and the downtime and commune with nature is restorative and best when not accompanied by the outside world. And so, based on my need or based on the quality of time I have had to myself in a day, the phone stays at home during most of my walks. In other words, a no-work zone.

Now your no-work zone may be physical, an actually place that work cannot take place, i.e. the bedroom, or it may be more abstract, work cannot take place after a certain time of day, a particular day of the week, on certain occasions or for longer than a certain amount of hours.

At the foundation of making this decision is determining what your quality of life is at the moment and assessing whether it is working for you. Do you feel rested, at ease, balanced, and restored yet productive at the end of the day? If so, keep doing what you are doing. But if the answer is no, ask yourself why not. Perhaps a balance needs to be restored and whether the “work” that is taking too much of your time is what you are paid to do or simply responsibilities you have given yourself, perhaps bring more opportunities to “play” into your day.

Yes, play.

Often what I find when I just “play”, in other words doing what I love to do without directive, is the ideas flow, the smiles are plentiful and the breaths are naturally deeper, and thus, I am more content and at peace.

So today, consider in what aspects of your life you have or would like to design as “no work” zones. What would help you enjoy your everydays all the more. And remember, the more readily we are able to do this for ourselves, we are modeling for others (our family, friends, coworkers, etc.) how to do it as well and exemplifying that good work need not require working all of the time. Again, the idea of quality over quantity.

Thank you for traveling along with me as we navigated through the twelve months of welcoming more quality into our everyday lives. I would, as I have a feeling other readers would as well, love to hear of the changes you have made in your own life that have heightened the quality in your life over the past year. Feel free to share in the comments. (Click here to view the entire list of months and the topics with links to each specific month’s discussion.)

And as we move forward into 2018, may the quality we have instilled into how we go about our everydays help us to experience more peace and fulfillment enabling us to reach our fullest potential.

Be sure to stop by next Wednesday for the annual round-up of the top “Why Not . . . ?” posts of 2017.


~Why Not . . . Give Your Life an Annual Appraisal?

~Back to Simple in 2015

~Why Not . . . Move Forward Successfully?

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4 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Designate “No Work” Zones?

  1. I really love this post. In my early 20s, I had to force myself to pretend I was unemployed after I left the office every day, in order to try to create some healthy boundaries between work and home life. It worked really well, and thankfully, I no longer need to take such extreme measures to turn off my work brain. But I wholeheartedly agree about “no-work” zones. I love to go trail running with my dogs, and I hardly ever pull out my phone, even to take pictures of them cavorting around. I only carry my phone at all as a safety measure since we run on sometimes remote trails. In the same way we need to occasionally unplug from things like social media, we need time away from work. I think it’s all about trying to live in the present moment, and be an attentive, active, and purposeful participant in our own lives. I don’t always succeed, but I will always continue to try.

  2. Retired from my professional life, I have worked on segmenting life to instill a balance. Not that easy I must say but carefully monitoring online time is essential. I write a blog about sewing and quilting. I can easily get lost in the craft and forget many other things. I only do computer work once per day. It usually involves about two hours of research and writing three or four times per week but I find that it works for me. This last year has been mostly lost for following many blogs. Health issues tend to distract but I am looking forward to 2018 and many insights to lead my best life. Thanks for this post. It is timely and important for all of us to learn to turn off and enjoy our world, what ever that might be.

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