How to Not Bring Work Home With You
After a day’s work, all you want to do is go home and relax—maybe play with your children or go out to catch up with friends—but your mind just won’t leave the office. You snap at your kids because you’re still fuming about that troublesome client, or you can’t focus on your friends because you keep thinking about that overdue project.
We hear you. Work consumes a significant part of the day, and it can be difficult to completely disengage. There’s always one more task to complete or issue left unresolved, and telling a meticulous person to just let it go is like telling a five-year-old not to pick at a scab. The impulse is far too great.
Need help leaving work at work? Consider the following tips.
Create An End-Of-Day Routine
Establish a system to wrap up the work day. Clean out your inbox, respond to instant messages, and straighten up your desk. Whatever it is you need to do to start the next day right, do it. When everything is done, say or do something that signifies you’re finished. Tell your coworkers goodbye, announce: “That’s a wrap,” or clear your hands over your desk like a blackjack dealer.
Stick to this routine every single day to make it habitual. This will tell your mind work is over and it can finally chill out.
Confine Work To Specific Times And Places
It can be tempting to bring your laptop home to try to get ahead for tomorrow. Resist the urge. By keeping your work at the office, you’ll train your brain to associate work with your desk and the rest of life with everywhere else.
Granted, you’ll sometimes need to take work home with you. To help your brain training stick, designate this work to an at-home office environment. Don’t take it to bed or sneak a peek at your email while out with friends and family.
Have a hard cutoff time for that work, too. Even if you’re working at home, give yourself at least two hours before bed to unwind. By then, you’re probably too tired to be productive anyway, so feel free to leave it until morning.
A major reason we take projects home is those unfinished tasks lingering in the back of our minds. Prevent this by staying focused at work and using good time-management skills. Set goals, plan out your day, limit multitasking, have a clean workspace, and prioritize your work by importance.
Will you complete all of your duties every day? Nope. But you’ll end the day confident that you’ll complete what needs doing tomorrow, making those unfinished responsibilities far less daunting.
Develop Good Smartphone Habits
It’s a technological marvel that people can contact you anytime from anywhere in the world. However, the mores of our always-on, always-connected society suggest you’re required to respond immediately. This makes it more difficult to fully disconnect from work than ever before.
You’ll need good smartphone habits. Let people know you’ll get back to them tomorrow, and eventually they’ll learn to keep communication to business hours. If that doesn’t work, set up your email and text with automatic replies ,and activate them during your off hours. If that doesn’t work, consider just turning the thing off.
Have Someone To Talk To
Your social network doesn’t have to be vast, but it should be solid. Having friends or family you enjoy spending time with will keep your mind in the present moment, not the past. You should also have someone you can talk to about the day’s difficulties and successes. Such a person will help you mentally unpack the work day, so you don’t have to carry it around.
Exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep are vital for keeping work at the office. A study out of the University of Central Florida showed employees who averaged more than 10,000 steps in a day were less likely to bring a bad day home with them.
The reason? People who are healthy are better able to self-regulate their emotions and manage their impulses. People who are sick or tired have difficulty doing both. Staying healthy physically is key to staying healthy mentally, and mental health is the best way to stay mindful on enjoying the present moment and not bringing your work home with you.