Not working off the clock is something everyone agrees upon when talking about work-life balance because it is easy to measure in traditional jobs. If you need to be in a specific location to do your job, or if your job requires some physical actions or tools, it is not hard to know when you are or are not working. But what happens when you can work anywhere, and your work — or part of it — does not require any tool or physical activity?

The answer is not simple because there are different levels of working off the clock.

One of them is going to your desk or using your mobile device to log into your work account when you are not working. This requires tools, so it is the easier part to modify because it is undeniable that you are working when you do it.

If you remove tools from the equation, there is a different level. If part of your job is thinking about how to solve a problem, you may find yourself doing it when you are in the gym, taking a shower, or laying in bed trying to sleep.

This is, in part, inevitable. Everyone thinks about their job off the clock eventually because you can not just forget everything about your job when you clock out. It is only a problem when there are circumstances at your workplace leading to worry about your job around the clock.

A common symptom that you are in an unhealthy work environment is thinking often about the problems you have at work, especially if they affect your ability to do your job. This is a problem that must be addressed by the company, and if the company is unable or unwilling to do it, it is a sign you should be looking for a different job.

My main point is: if you — do or want to — work in tech you need to be able to self-regulate. Working as a developer may come with a lot of freedom, but this freedom comes with more responsibility.

If you work from home, you need to be able to have boundaries and separate your job from the rest of your life, even if it happens in the same space.

If you have flexible hours, you need to be able to create your routines to achieve a balanced schedule.

If part of your work happens inside your mind and you can go outside while you are thinking, you also need to be able to just stop thinking about it when you are out with friends or family, or at home watching a movie.

Because you can not turn off your brain as you do with your laptop, and if you do not train yourself to stop thinking about work you will not rest on weekends or holidays, and burnout is like the sword of Damocles always hanging over our heads.