How to switch off from work
The average Briton works 40 hours a week. Sadly, in today’s world of work overload and non-stop notifications, work life often takes over our personal lives. Many of us catch ourselves thinking about work even during off hours. Taking work tensions back home can be damaging for your relationships, your health and your well-being.
In this article we explain how to stop intrusive thoughts about work flooding your mind.
Work Life Balance
The ideal ‘balance’ can vary at different stages of the life cycle and it’s primarily a question of individual choice. People experience WLB in a different manner, with some needing more ‘me time’ to achieve it.
Why do we work long hours?
Some of us have no choice but to work long hours to make ends meet, while others stay late in the office due to heavy workload. There are also people who truly love what they do and it’s their free will to clock out late.
Working overtime may also depend on cultural disparities. In some countries, taking on extra hours demonstrates commitment to work and employer. This is especially the case in many Asian countries, where individuals who do overtime are perceived as committed to their job. If you negotiate for shorter hours with an Asian employer, it may be the sign of weakness for them. Therefore, unless asked, employees prefer not to talk about it during the interview.
The opposite seems to be true in Nordic countries. Negotiating working hours appears to be a common thing and employers are ready to compromise between salary and office hours. No wonder Nordic countries are amongst world’s happiest countries.
How to switch on your off-work mode?
Before you leave
- Start only tasks that you can complete. There is a psychological term called the Zeigarnik effect, according to which, people remember unaccomplished or interrupted tasks better than the accomplished ones. Therefore, you are more likely to think about tasks that you haven’t completed.
- Prepare a to-do list for the next day. It will go a long way towards organising your thoughts. By thinking through your to-do list, you will also identify potential issues and come up with a solution. Finally, you will rest assured that everything is under control.
- Tidy up your desk. Tidying up your bedroom has been proved to be beneficial for your sleep. We believe that a tidy desk at your office will not only help you truly disconnect, but also keep all your files and work-related things under control.
- Ditch your smartphone. The line between work and leisure time has become so blurred that we often don’t even realise how frequently we check our work messages. We go through our mailboxes just like we scroll through our news feed, which may seem to be a good thing but will not help you disconnect. Switch off notifications and get into habit of answering emails only during your working hours.
- Get some exercise. A good workout may do wonders – you will burn off work stress and boost your endorphins. If that wasn’t exciting enough, you will additionally stretch your bones and let your body rest from a daily desk posture. Forget about the most common end of day excuse ‘I can’t be bothered exercising after work today’ and hit the gym! You will feel better after letting off some steam.
- Get a hobby. A meaningful hobby will take your mind off work. Instead of going to bed to watch Netflix, try doing something different like reading a book, knitting, or anything you are passionate about.
- Create a relaxing ritual. It can be something as simple as getting changed, taking a shower or cooking dinner. Such ritual activities send a signal to your brain that it’s time to switch off work mode.
Being able to switch off from work and take the most out of your free time is closely related to what you do once you clock out. A good WLB improves employees’ life and career satisfaction so take your off hours seriously and have some quality time!