The usual scene at Scott’s home every evening is him scrolling down his phone screen, looking for his boss’s email, calling a teammate to get an update, and then replying to his manager’s email. All this while his kindergarten-going kid is enthusiastically relaying all that she did at school. Scott throws a glance and a wry smile at her from time to time to show he’s very interested. But truth be told, he’s too busy with ongoing projects as he just couldn’t leave his work at work.
Sounds familiar? Then you should learn how to leave work at work so that you can get a better balance between home and work. Your family won’t feel neglected and your mental and physical health will take a turn for the better.
Table of contents
Why You Should Leave Work At Work
There will be crunch times when you just can’t leave things at a loose end and go home. But this shouldn’t be allowed to become the norm. The following are the top reasons why you should leave work at work.
- Mental Peace
If you think your brain can retain all details of every work and personal activity, take a deep breath and think again. By nature, work creates stress for us as it’s the means of our sustenance. That’s why we put more emphasis and importance on work.
But did you know that people take their own lives when they can’t handle work-related pressure? That says a lot about how work can affect our mental health. Therefore, if you want mental peace and sanity, leave work where it belongs. At work.
- Physical Well-Being
When you leave work at work, you have the time to exercise, meditate, do yoga, or any other activity that keeps you physically fit. Along with mental peace, it’s essential to invest time in maintaining or improving your physical health. If you’re ill and unable to work, then what’s the use of having that job! So, next time you decide to put in a couple of hours after office, think twice!
- Greater Productivity
Guess what! When you’re in the right mental and physical condition, your productivity has only one way to go – up! If you’re free from stress and in the pink of health, you will embrace your responsibilities with ease at work and personal life. You will find your productivity scoring better!
- Better Work-Life Balance
When you leave work at work, you have more time to spend with your family and friends. It’s not healthy to spend the lion’s share of the day at work and come home exhausted and not in the mood to speak to anyone. Hence, for a better work-life balance, it’s important to leave work at work.
- Better Manager
If you spend most of the day at your workplace, your teammates will not be at ease and will always feel the pressure of having their boss around. When you leave work on time, your team members will be relaxed and will put in better work, resulting in better productivity and performance.
Ways To Leave Work At Work
If you want to be happier, more productive, and less stressed, follow the tips below so that you can leave work at work.
- Setting Boundaries 🤺
When you allow others to send you emails and expect almost instant replies, you are setting yourself up for a disheveled schedule. You’re too busy complying with requests from others to take care of your tasks. Set boundaries so that others know when you are not available.
One key way of setting boundaries is by setting your working hours on your google calendar. When your working hours are clearly established, you will not receive meeting requests after those hours.
Even if you work on a flexible schedule, you can arrange your personal chores and work tasks around those hours and let your colleagues, manager, and family know. If you need to clock in certain hours daily, you can start by taking stock of your personal tasks and arrange them at your convenience. Next, put a start and end of the day hours and make sure to focus on office work during this time.
In case you’re a freelancer, you still need to set your work hours although your work may be results-based, without the need to clock in specific hours. In this case, you can list down the personal tasks and estimate how much time it will take to complete these. Then you can establish your work hours accordingly. A daily schedule will help you immensely to jot down tasks and prioritize them.
Another way of setting boundaries is by learning to say “No”. The more you accept all responsibilities and requests, the more you’ll be over-utilized. It will leave you with barely enough energy to complete your deep work or spend quality time with loved ones. Instead of a blunt “No!”, there are ways you can decline a request politely.
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- Setting Deadlines ⏳
Staying back after official working hours can quickly turn into a hard habit to break. You may think that you will stay just for 10 or 15 minutes. But those minutes soon turn into hours before you know it. Even when you leave work, the tension of unfinished work won’t leave you. Therefore, you must set tough deadlines for your workday so that you can clock off and be done with it.
When you break a job into several tasks, you can assign deadlines for completing each task. Following this habit will reduce stress for you and give you mental peace as you know when you’ll finish the whole job. Although some types of jobs do not allow leaving work on time, setting deadlines can still be done at least occasionally to prevent it from forming into a daily habit. Deadlines force you to focus and complete your tasks without following you to your home.
- Planning For The Next Day 📅
Another tip for leaving work at work is by planning for the next day. Instead of planning for the day after you wake up each morning, you should use a daily schedule where you jot down what you need to do the next day. This helps you to clear your mind, prioritize, and know in advance what’s coming ahead. The result: the feeling that you’re in control and therefore, leading to less stress and higher productivity.
- Doing Today, Not Tomorrow 🙌
Procrastination can throw you off a schedule and create a humongous work backlog for you that will sap all your energy and hours. If you want to avoid this type of situation, do the tasks today instead of putting them off for tomorrow. Setting up your daily schedule is a surefire way to keep procrastination at bay. As you jot down your to-do list, you also prioritize, which helps you tackle important jobs before they become urgent, enabling you to leave work at work.
Sometimes there are unexpected blank spaces in your calendar as a meeting gets canceled or shifted. Use this time to do some important work so that you can gain control of your time.
- Relaxing While commuting ⛱️
To switch your mind off work when you leave your office, there are many ways you can relax while you head back home. You can listen to an audiobook, podcast, or your favorite music. These will transport you to another world where work doesn’t dominate.
Commuting to and from work is a great opportunity to clear your mind. Pay attention to the scenery around you. Little things like the wonders of nature can heal our minds and help us leave work at work. If you drive, put on some soothing music to relax your mind and soul.
- Pursuing Hobbies and Interests 🤸
Develop a healthy interest in various or even just one area that you can indulge in after leaving work. Nurturing your creative side post work hours will make you happier and more productive. Block half an hour to an hour every day after you return home when you can paint, read your favorite author’s book, cook a healthy meal, or meet friends. Anything that will release the happy hormones and take your mind off work.
One of the best ways to leave work where it belongs is by turning off your phone. Instead of scrolling through the endless feeds of social media at the end of the day, spend time doing non-tech activities. These will improve your sense of being at the present moment and your awareness. Your mind will become sharper and you will be more alert.
- A Transition Ritual 🏴
You can make your transition ritual that signals your brain to leave work at work. These rituals may include taking a bath after coming back home. Having a relaxing shower or bath is a visualization technique. It’s symbolic of washing away the work and worries of the office and putting you in the home-mode. Use lavender or other soothing bath products for a complete experience.
Take the time to clean your desk and put away your office or school supplies and stationery neatly in your cubicle or cabin. When you come to work the next day, a cluttered workspace won’t stress you out.
Changing from work clothes to casual and comfy clothes is another example of a transition ritual. A very powerful one is going for a jog, walk, or any other type of exercise as soon as you get home. Walking and running bust your stress and help you become physically and mentally fit.
Watching your favorite TV show is also a good transition ritual as long as you don’t lose track of time and get sucked into a meaningless spree. Choose a sitcom that makes you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine after all!
- Venting 😤
It’s difficult to forget unpleasant incidents at work as sometimes an offensive comment from a client or boss can play ad lib in your mind.
If you have someone willing to lend their ears to your work woes, use this opportunity! Venting helps release all the pent-up tension and has cathartic properties. Moreover, if your friend works in the same type of industry as you do, venting can even lead to work-related solutions.
However, make sure not to vent regularly as nobody wants to be a sounding board for your constant whining. Use this technique sparingly to help you when you really need it.
- Breathing Exercise/Meditation 🏋️
Meditation and breathing exercises can help you relax when you come back home after a long or hectic day. These activities train you to focus on the moment and relax, making you forget all the troubles at work. You will start to feel less stress as you get into the habit of daily meditation and other exercises.
- Positive Reinforcement 🤝
Reward yourself with all big and small achievements. If you and other people in your team pull off an event without a hitch, take time to celebrate to forget about the late hours and the hard work. Give yourself a spa treatment after you’ve had a hectic time at work. Such positive reinforcements will help stress vanish from your life.
- Communicate 📲
If you are aware that the next week will be a tough one at work, communicate clearly with family and other people, including your colleagues. You can thus manage expectations from family and friends and won’t disappoint anyone.
Let your teammates know in advance if a tough project is coming your way. Delegate tasks that you’re not an expert in. Clear communication can save you from a load of stress and help you execute with a proper plan.
- Sleep and Eat Well 🛌
Put a priority on rest and a good, balanced diet. Sleeping well at night coupled with healthy meals and snacks can go a long way to reduce stress and make you more productive. Sleeping at least 7 hours at night and waking up early gives you a headstart at your workplace. You are already ahead, ready to work as per a schedule, and call it a day when the clock strikes the end of the working hour.
How To Leave Work At Work When Working From Home
Putting work out of your mind may pose a bit of difficulty as your home may double up as your office. By following the tips below, you can keep work and family life separate.
⇒ Dedicated workspace
Choose a separate room in your house to set up your workspace. If that’s not possible, choose a corner in any room where you can place a desk and put your laptop and some office supplies. Use a screen to demarcate your workspace. Don’t stay in this space after your day’s work is complete.
⇒ Time blocking
Use the time blocking method to focus on work by using the Pomodoro technique. Or just block hour chunks in your calendar for deep work. If there are other people in your home, use noise-canceling headphones to help you concentrate.
⇒ Daily schedule for work
Make a schedule for work and plan when you will take breaks. Sticking to a daily schedule for work will make sure you complete your tasks within office hours. This way, you won’t allow your job to take over personal time. You will become more disciplined, leading to higher efficiency and productivity. You will also have the time to enjoy family time.
⇒ Communication and Collaboration
Keep in touch with your colleagues while working from home. By keeping them in the loop of project progress and possible deviations, you can get them to have your back when in need. Share your work plan with them so that everyone is on the same page. You can let go of unnecessary worries when you have people to count on.
It’s hard to motivate yourself to work to your full capacity when there’s no office environment and your teammates also work from home. Dress like you’re going to the office. Take short breaks to re-energize yourself. Try meditation or go outside for a quick walk after lunch. Keep rewarding yourself after you complete each work chunk.
The right mindset and practice can help you leave your task worries back at office so that you empower yourself to enjoy a life free from stress.