How to Protect Your Time, Your Attention, and Your Sanity

The current situation with COVID-19 has made this a very acute problem but what we are talking about in this session is really timeless in this 24/7 world. These are some of the better practices that we use to keep our sanity.

Protecting Our Time

  • Setting boundaries and expectations: It is important to express where your boundaries are to folks that you work with and even live with. People like your partner, children, managers, and clients. Express what you need and where you draw your lines so there is no ambiguity.

  • Turning notifications off: With mini-computers in our pocket it’s hard not to get sucked in every time your devices bing. Start by turning those off to help bring some silence and calm to your world.

  • E-mail after hours: It’s ok to read your email after hours but unless it’s urgent try not to respond. It sets the expectation from the sender that you are open and working at those times.

  • Be vocal about uninterrupted time: Set working hours in Outlook so folks know when it’s ok to schedule you and when it isn’t. If you have a flex schedule (picking the kids up from 3-4) then make sure to block that out in your calendar so you don’t get scheduled.

  • Be respectful of other people’s working hours: Be aware of when folks work. WE don’t all have the same schedule or timezone. What is acceptable for you might not be working hours for others.

  • Managing outcomes, not hours: This isn’t a 9-5 world anymore. In most cases clocking in, sitting at a desk from 9-5 and clocking out isn’t the norm. Allow flexibility for life. Manage the outcome of the work, not the hours spent doing it. Some folks might be morning people and do their best work from 5am to noon then go to the gym and run errands and finish their day later in the evening. As long as the work is done well there should be freedom around how you get it done.allow for flexibility.

Enabling Tools

  • Outlook Delay Delivery - Lets you schedule delivery of mail created after hours

  • Viva Analytics/Workplace Analytics - Look at these analytics to see when you are most productive.

  • World Clock App - If you work across many time zones check out this tool.


It’s important to protect time to “get work done.” We hear it all the time. I can’t get anything done because I’m always in meetings.

  • Time-blocking: Block out chunks of your day to work on a singular task.

  • Do Not Disturb: Use the Do Not Disturb status to block incoming pings and let folks know your busy.

  • Disable Notifications: We talked about this before. Turn them off and your life will be saner.

  • Carving out workspace free from distractions: If you are new to working from home try and carve out a spot in the house where you will get the least interruptions or be tempted to check that email. A separate room is great but a corner of a room would work. If you’re on the sofa or dining room table pack it up at the end of your working day. This will make it easier to separate home and work time. It’s important to have a separate space to shift your mindset


  • Be compassionate with yourself: It’s ok to set boundaries. It’s ok to say no and not feel bad about it.

  • Communicate expectations: Clear communication is the key. Make sure you know what is acceptable for the folks you work with and they know the same for you.

  • Turn off machines at night and on weekends: If you’re not working don’t work. It’s hard but try. Be present or be away

  • Take time to recharge and recover: That could be a vacation or time off or it could be 30 minutes in the middle of the day to work out. Set time aside for yourself.

  • Turn off the mobile devices at night: No dings or bings. Turn off the ringer or keep it outside the bedroom.

  • Bring whole self to work: Include co-workers and family in the conversation

Enabling tools

  • Make appointments with yourself

  • Mobile device settings: Digital well-being apps on phone (Calm, Headspace)

  • Virtual Commute

Do you have any questions for us? Continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSympraxis and mention @SympraxisC.