Being able to switch off after work is essential to ensure that you protect your health and improve productivity. However, knowing just how to disengage yourself from a stressful or hectic day in the office can be a challenge. Added to that, advances in technology mean that we can still be “switched on” long after we have left work.
According to a study in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, working long hours, not getting enough vacations, and using family time for work can have a negative impact on health. Researchers reported that losing life-work balance results in stress which in turn adversely affects worker’s health as well as the health of spouses and children. The researchers stated that a good personal life and family happiness are essential to having a better career.
So, at the end of your working day, how can you make a clean break from the office to switch off after work? Here are 6 great tips.
Always plan to finish your day in the office by doing a small task. Do something as simple as responding to an email, making a short phone call, or performing any short task that takes less than 2 minutes to complete. This gives you a sense of achievement and you finish the day on a positive note.
Before you leave the office, check your to-do list to see where you are on your list of tasks. Doing so can help you plan your activities for the next day and save you remembering about important tasks when you get home. This is also a stress-reducing technique that used by top executives to enhance their performance.
You may find that a ritual you perform at the end of each day helps you switch off from your work. Doing a small action to symbolise the end of the day can prevent you mentally staying at work when you have left the office. This could be something like calling home to say you are on your way, locking the office door, or switching off your computer.
One important ritual that can help you switch off and stop taking work home with you is to straighten your work area at the end of the day. Leaving the office with a cluttered desk gives your brain the impression that you’ve not finished. It also adds to the pressure you feel when you arrive for work the next day. One study found that workers who organised their desk at the end of the day were more productive and less frustrated than those who didn’t
Talking about your work-related problems when you get home is like carrying home a heavy suitcase with work-related items. Of course, it may be challenging to avoid talking about matters that are weighing on your mind. So, set some house rules about how long you speak to your partner about work and when. For example, you could limit it to 10 minutes during dinner.
If you are finding it difficult to switch off after work, then it may be helpful to get a hobby that immerses your mind. Interestingly, focusing your mind on something else when you get home allows your mind to become more creative. For example, one executive in a stressful job took up swimming and always focused on his breathing and form. He found that subconsciously his brain often worked solutions to problems. So, sometimes distracting yourself from the problems helps you become more productive.
Source: 1. Indian J Psychiatry. 2010 Oct-Dec; 52(4): 295–297.