All of us do it all day every day. You’re busy working and then your mobile dings, vibrates, lights up or all 3. You’re instantly distracted from whatever it was you were doing or the meeting you are currently in: Must… look… at… phone...

If you’re anything like me, chances are you’re getting dozens of notifications throughout the day from various chat apps. However, you may not realize that with every notification, you are having a far greater impact on your life than you realize, potentially killing a facet of your life each time you use your personal chat apps for work.

It sounds extreme, but hear me out.

You could kill your work life

With the constant stream of messages from loved ones and co-workers/bosses in a single personal chat app, it is very easy to mistakenly send your boss an "I love you", something sexual or worse (such as a complaint about them). It may end up being an embarrassing moment you laugh about, or maybe you’re able to explain it away, but you might say something that gets you fired or otherwise needs you to leave the workplace, costing you your livelihood.

You could kill your home life

If your personal instant messenger is always on, your colleagues will know they can reach you any time of day, with less guilt than a phone call. By using your personal instant messenger at work, you will lose the boundaries and balance between work life and home life. You can hope that your country or state may implement a "Right to disconnect" law, but it may be years before that happens. In the meantime, the constant barrage of work notifications can have a negative impact on your home life and the relationships with those closest to you, taking you away from your spouse or children because of the little alerts on your phone. You may think a quick peek at the messages is nothing, but before and after doing so, your mind can become occupied with work, taking you out of the moment you should be enjoying with loved ones - I know this all too well myself!

You could actually kill yourself

The 3rd reason is no joke: You can literally die from a stroke or heart attack brought on by the stress of overwork. If we look to Japan, which I believe can be a "Black Mirror" (Must watch TV) of what the future may look like for many other nations, overwork related deaths have become so commonplace that there's even a name for it: Karōshi. Stress-induced suicide is also a problem in Japan, with people that kill themselves from overwork being known as "Karōjisatsu". Together, karōshi and karōjisatsu accounted for 190 deaths in 2017 according to Japanese government data. This may seem alien to those living in Europe, many of whom follow a strict 9-5 day, but I’ve spent over a decade working in Asia, and whenever working in local companies, I found the pressure to continue working beyond your official work day to be real and constant.

One solution? Use a chat app dedicated to business

The above issues stem from a lack of boundaries between your work life and your personal life. Those boundaries are significantly eroded by the use of personal chat apps for communicating with colleagues and customers, and, therefore, I recommend using chat apps designed for business.

Most personal chat apps have a "Mute notifications" function, that will disable the constant pinging, but this is typically for fixed periods, with options like 1, 8 or 24 hours (or maybe even 1 week or 1 year!) At the same time, because you have combined your personal contacts with your professional ones, you may actually want those global alerts still coming in, so that you don’t miss the chance to talk with your friends and family (I find this particularly necessary living abroad where time zones come into play). Yes you can usually mute individual conversations too, but again, those tend to have similar inflexibility, and you have to do that for multiple conversations on a daily basis.

That’s why we’re building Rolo, a secure chat app focused on your business conversations. By compartmentalizing your business conversations into a dedicated app, we’re able to give you global functions that can help you take back your work-life balance. One function in particular that does this, is setting “Office hours” for your Rolo account, choosing which days and hours of the week to receive notifications.

We’re building Rolo for our users, and we’d love your ideas for features that will help you create and maintain those boundaries between your work life and personal life, so if you have any ideas, let us know!