Have you ever come home from work, put on some comfortable clothes, sat down, and continued to think about work? Maybe it’s an upcoming deadline, a project that’s taken an unexpected turn, or an interaction you had earlier in the day. Whatever it is, it’s consuming your thoughts and personal time.
Let’s face it: no matter how much you love your job, work can be stressful and consuming; but the stressors of the work day don’t have to come home with you. Developing productive and clarifying habits, in and out of the office, can help you unplug and get some much-needed relaxation after a long day.
Develop a Block of Time in the Day That’s Dedicated to Work
Get work done at work. It sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes getting work done at work can be a challenge. Meetings and urgent requests typically take time away from you working towards those upcoming deadlines.
Find the time of day when you know you’re most productive and block it off on your calendar. Even if it’s only an hour, you get an hour of mental clarity to zone in and knock out the tasks you’d normally worry about later.
During that work block, it’s important to prioritize work. Here are few strategies to prioritize your tasks:
- Deadlines: Is your project due in the next few days? Or do you have more than a week to complete it?
- Time to Complete the Project: Is this project going to take you several hours to complete and/or is it more challenging than other projects? You may want to consider working on projects that are a heavier lift during your work blocks when your mind is clear.
- Assess the impact of the deliverable: Determine which projects carry the highest value to your organization/clients and prioritize completion.
Write Tomorrows To-Do List Today
Before you leave work for the day, take a few minutes to list out your to-dos for the next day. Not only does this get you organized for the next day, it clears your mind of all the tasks you know you need to complete.
By writing out your to-do list the day before, you leave work feeling prepared to tackle tomorrow.
Define an Action that Signifies the End of a Work Day
For some people, this action can be as simple as closing your laptop and putting it away. For others, this can mean going to the gym for an hour after work. Find something that works for you and your schedule and make it a daily ritual.
Whatever action you choose, performing this daily will make it easier to shift your mindset from work-mode to personal-time - ultimately helping you relax.
Resist the Urge to Check Emails and Chats After Hours
While this is much easier said than done, resisting the urge to check emails and/or chats after hours helps you unplug from the day.
After you leave work, sign out of any work-related chat or email applications on your phone. Or, depending on the app, you can disable notifications after working hours. This way, no notifications come through your phone and you aren’t sitting there knowing an email or chat is waiting for you.
A Tip for Teams in Different Time Zones
If you’re in a position where you have teammates in different time zones, set communication expectations with them. Should there be a form of communication in case of possible emergency? Is there another person in the other time zone who could be a point of contact? Make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of communicating with each other!
Another thing you can do to better define the lines of communication between time zones is turn on multi-time zones on Google calendar so you have visibility into when working times overlap.
Take Time for Activities You Enjoy
After your work day, you need to invest your time into things you enjoy. Not only does investing your time into hobbies improve overall happiness, but working on a skill or project based on personal interest gives your mind another way to switch off from work-mode.
Pursuing personal hobbies and interests can also reduce stress and increase levels of creativity. Working on a skill or personal project gives us a sense of accomplishment outside of work that keeps us motivated to move forward.
While your professional work should give you a sense of accomplishment, it shouldn’t be the only thing in your life that you’re proud of. Be proud of your personal interests, too!
You Really Can Leave Work at Work
With a few changes in both the working day and your personal time, you can leave your work at work and fully enjoy the time you have to yourself so you can recharge and stay motivated.