It’s 6:30pm on a Wednesday evening, you’re still in the office and you have three choices;
1) Go home, but take your laptop with you and stay up late, spending the evening doing work.
2) Physically drag yourself away from your desk but spend the rest of the evening panicking over the work you didn’t complete.
3) Forget it! As soon as you leave the office, leave work behind, relieve your mind from your workload and enjoy your free time – see friends, cook a nice meal, have a glass of wine and relax!
I know I’d rather choose the latter. However, sometimes a work life balance just doesn’t exist. Like most workers, I have fallen into the trap of replying to work emails at 12:30am before.
Google are currently conducting a decade’s long study into the work lives of their employees.
So far, results show only 31% of employees can leave work at work. So, simple maths means 69% of people take their work home with them (It would be extremely awkward if I got that wrong given I work in finance).
Our work tasks have a way of integrating themselves into our personal life. Whether we are talking to our friends and family or when we’re brushing our teeth, it’s common to think about work.
It’s inevitable that by the end of working day, there will be additional work that crops up or ‘unfinished business’ that needs to be finished. As critical as you may deem your work, it will still be there in the morning. Forgetting about it for an evening and leaving the office free from the thought of work, will not cause the New York Stock Exchange to crash.
I love working hard but even for people who adore their job, work can still be stressful.
We all require regular breaks where we can completely forget about work, then on the following day return to the work environment, be more efficient and smash it. Your body and brain needs time to mentally and physically recoup, reorganize and regenerate.
Here are a few tips on how you can start to leave your work in its rightful place…at work.
Treat your commute as your time
Your journey home is the first stage of relaxation.
Of course, taking the bus or driving down a congested motorway will never satisfy optimal relaxation. However, by playing some of your favourite music, taking the scenic route, grabbing a ‘cheeky’ Starbucks or doing whatever you like to enjoy the journey home is bound to put you in a great mood before you arrive home.
Rant (but in the right place, at the right time)
Scream as loud as you want (with an appropriate distance away from your place of work of course). Try to avoid walking in the door and ranting to your friends and family about the sly move a colleague made or a potential deal you could’ve closed. It’s always worth putting yourself in the position of your family and friends – who wants to welcome anyone in a bad mood?
Hide your work
This may sound a bit extreme, but sometimes extreme times call for extreme measures.
If you’re having a relaxing evening at home and spot your work phone or laptop across the room, you’ll probably think to yourself ‘no harm of giving it a quick check now’. And then spend the next 3 hours working.
One of the best ways to stop doing this is by physically hiding things that will make you think of work. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ theory is total logic, right?
Work from home? Fix your work hours
We live in a world where more careers do not require the traditional boundaries of an office.
If you work from home unwinding may be trickier as that physical distance between work space and personal space is often non-existent. So even though you work at home, scheduling office hours is key.
I’m lucky in the fact that I work for a very flexible organisation that allows me to work from home during less busy periods. What I find is that when I work from home, the usual 9-5 hours are non-existent. I often find myself starting work earlier and finishing a lot later than when I would do if I were in the office.
And that’s why it’s important to schedule “office hours” when working from home. And most importantly, being strict yourself to stick to these hours.
After hours’ activities
Sometimes all that is needed is that little bit of extra motivation in the form of dinner and drinks with friends or a gym class after work to help you walk out the office on time, leave work behind and keep your brain more focused and engaged throughout the day.
If there is a pre-planned commitment you have to look forward, you’ll be more motivated to stick to office hours, rather than leaving at 8pm.
The early rule
Of course, some jobs are more demanding than others and there will be busy times when it’s difficult to apply some of the above tips. If that is the case, then follow the early rule.
It’s common sense really but the earlier you complete the work the better.
If you work just before bed, you’ll be wide awake, find it difficult to get a goods night rest and most likely to wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
Be strict with yourself
And finally, it’s all about being firm with yourself. Believe me, this is easier said than done.
Ultimately the choice to leave work at work is down to you.
I struggle with this the most, as it’s always in the back of our mind that the ‘harder I work, the better I will become in my chosen field and the more I will progress’
Whilst these tips are great starters to help send you home in a good mood. You need to be strict when it comes to own well-being and the massive implications our work life balance has on our mental health.
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