With Thanksgiving coming up and Christmas just around the corner, some of you might be stressed about all the work you may have to leave incomplete in the office. You may also be feeling overwhelmed by this causing you to be unable to switch off from work during the holiday period.
If you have a work from home job, you may find it difficult to switch off from working at all.
Our mission is to redefine the way you think about work. Part of that process is to also help you understand that work is just one part of your life, it is not all of it. However, sometimes, when you can’t get work thoughts out of your head, it can feel like all of it.
Whether you have trouble switching off from work in the evenings, on holidays or even on your lunch break, further down we are going to share six foolproof tips to help you relax when off-duty so you can fully focus on the other important parts of your life as well.
Why do we struggle to switch off from work?
You hit refresh on your LinkedIn feed 10+ times on the commute home alone. You just quickly read over that report once more before dinner. You may even check your emails on your phone first thing in the morning. A Saturday morning.
If you were nodding your head in agreement to any of the above statements, you are not alone. It is increasingly common to feel the need to be “on-call” outside of your normal working hours. But, the question is why is that?
You are really passionate about what you do
When you truly love what you do, it can be difficult to say adiós and switch off from work at 5:30 pm on the dot. You actually want to continue with your projects or check-in with how a client is doing for the pure love of it.
You get stressed and panic
Some people are not as fortunate to have a job that they are so passionate about and can end up working extra hours because they feel overwhelmed or stressed about the amount of work they have to do during the day. They may also think that it will look bad if they don’t get more things done.
It is expected of you
This is, in our opinion, the worst of the why’s. When you clock-off for the day, your time should be your own, but some companies have an unspoken rule that you should still be on-call and checking emails regardless of if it is an urgent matter or not. This is often an unhealthy work culture to be a part of and can be difficult to change.
What can we do about it?
Some companies and countries have played around with the idea of banning employees from being able to check their emails outside of work in an attempt to improve wellbeing and decrease stress levels, however a recent study in the UK showed that this may not be the right solution.
Learning to switch off from work is a skill in itself so we have included some of our top tips that you can implement throughout the whole day to make sure that once you leave work, you can relax and properly switch off from work.
1. Accept that work is never-ending
Most jobs that exist today have no endpoint. If you work in a profession like sales or account management, then you likely understand that you could continuously work 24/7 and your work would never be complete. There are always more sales to be made and more client queries to respond to.
Once we realise that even if we arrive at work early, stay an hour or two late, or do some more work at home, there will always be more to do, but accepting this for what it is can take the pressure off of feeling like you have to complete everything today.
2. Apply deep work practices
If you are completely honest with yourself, did you really do as much work as you possibly could have today? Or did you spend a few too many minutes scrolling through Facebook?
There is an excellent book called Deep Work by Cal Newport which we love to recommend. The author celebrates the power of focus and shares his methods for achieving everything you need to within the timeframe you have (usually referring to the 9-5 working timetable most people are paid for). We know you are busy so here is a four-minute summary of the book to get you started.
3. Write your to-do list before you leave
This piece of advice is so simple, and yet one of the greatest pieces of advice that I have ever received.
The norm is to get to work in the morning, pour your cup of coffee and sit at your desk before scribbling a quick to-do list of what you want to get done for the day.
The reason why that is not efficient though is because you have to try and remember where you left off yesterday and you may forget things.
Instead, what you should do is write your to-do list for the next day 10 minutes before you leave work while all of your ongoing and pending projects are fresh in your mind.
The best part is that by physically writing down all of your tasks for the next day, it feels like you take those things out of your mind and on to paper. It almost gives your mind permission to close that part of your brain until tomorrow knowing that everything is prepared and will be taken care of then allowing you to truly switch off from work.
4. Find something you love to do that relaxes you
Ask yourself what you really enjoy doing outside of work and make time to do that in the evenings.
It sounds simple but the key is to find something you love but that also relaxes you. It can take a lot of self-discipline and willpower to come home after a long day at work and start into something else that requires your mind to be actively thinking.
Are you a sports fan or gym lover? Maybe you love to paint or sing (tip: you don’t have to be good at either). You may even find that baking or cooking relaxes you. Whatever your thing is, be disciplined with yourself and spend a couple of nights a week doing that to take your mind off of the office.
5. Spend time on personal development
Personal development is a hugely underrated activity in the world of work but the secret is that the better you become at personal development, the more efficient you become at doing everything else in your life as well.
Reading self-care books, meditating and using a gratitude journal are just some ways we can improve our own personal development.
What are the benefits of doing so? Increased motivation and happiness levels, higher self-esteem and confidence, relationships can improve, you may feel less stressed and you can learn to trust yourself and your decisions more. All of these elements consequently help you create a better working environment where you are more confident in your work, make better decisions, and productivity and quality of work can increase as well.
We don’t need to say much here because we are sure that you have already heard that you should be getting more sleep. Eight hours is optimum for the average person, but some people function better on six hours a night whereas others need a full nine hours to feel rested.
Find what works for you and try to stick to it on work-nights. Set an alarm 30 minutes before you need to go to bed and also use it as a reminder to put your phone and any other screens away as well.
It is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to our professional lives is not the answer to this issue, however, creating flexible and more open-minded working environments that can suit each individual might be.
We created our Emotional Salary Barometer with the latter in mind because we understand that every single person, whether employee or freelance, values different things and has different expectations when it comes to their ideal career and daily working life.
We also know that most people find it difficult to put this into words so the Barometer can not only help you to hone in on the values that are most important to you but also give you steps to put into action which will help you improve your overall working life.
Redefine YOUR work!
Clodagh & Marisa