How to leave work at work

I love my job and if I’m not careful, I could end up doing or at least thinking about work 24/7.

Whether you love it or hate it or somewhere in between – do you ever work after hours or think about what needs to be done at work when you’re at home with friends and family?

Oxymoron: Stop Working and Become More Productive

“Bringing work home with you” – literally or figuratively – has its consequences, including high stress, low productivity, and damaged relationships. The old adage goes: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The same is true for us Jills.

Working from a home office for 20 years has forced me to find little tricks to successfully separate my work and personal life and new science provides even more.

These 7 simple actions will signal your brain to change gears and can make a big difference in your productivity, mood, relationships and even your health.

  1. View your time away from work as productive.
    Setting boundaries gives us the energy and clarity to achieve our goals. How can you be productive when you’re exhausted?Study after study shows the importance of resting the mind and body. You’ll be far more clear-headed and productive when you nurture your relationships, eat right, and get enough sleep. You are achieving something important when you take yourself out of work mode.
  2. End the day on a positive note.
    Leaving work with an incomplete project or a problem weighing on your mind makes it difficult to disconnect. To close your day send a signal to your brain telling it to switch to something pleasant and let the problems rest until you intentionally switch back into work mode.Make a phone call to thank or compliment someone or jot down a couple of positive things about your day. Sometimes it’s a stretch to find the good, but it’s there.
  3. Connect with someone outside of work.
    When you call your spouse or a friend your brain switches gears, setting you up to move into your personal agenda. Make the conversation about them rather than your work, especially if you’ve had a stressful day. Asking the standard, “How was your day?” opens up an opportunity for negativity. Instead, ask them about the good or exciting things that happened since you last spoke.
  4. Plan what’s next.
    Planning your next activity, whether it’s cooking dinner or going to a movie, creates a distraction for your brain, again helping the transition to your personal life easier. Sometimes I don’t want to think about doing anything because I’m exhausted. On those evenings, I plan to relax with a good book (which may or may not include a glass of wine.) Having something to look forward to helps resist the temptation to keep working.
  5. Perform an anchoring activity.
    I love this one. A simple, neuro linguistic programing trick is to associate an internal response with some external or internal trigger. Repeating that same trigger will prompt your body and brain to recall the same feeling or mood. In the example of leaving work behind, it may be closing your office door, making that phone call home, or even something silly like patting your computer 2 times. Sending such a signal to your brain programs it to trigger a feeling of completion that can make it easier for you to stop thinking about work.
  6. Tidy up your office.
    A messy desk can leave you with a nagging feeling that there’s something left undone. Why carry frustration into the next part of your day? Being organized also saves time, once again adding to increased productivity.
  7. Create tomorrow’s to-do list.
    This not only helps your productivity tomorrow, it acknowledges that the work day is done and reduces concerns about forgetting something important.

Here’s the key: View your work and personal life with equal importance, rather than placing an exaggerated importance on your work. You know you’re less productive when you’re tired and stressed out, so why not close the door on your problems guiltlessly and get some rest? If you’re a non-believer, give it a try for a few weeks and notice the positive, all-around impact that a little balance brings to your world.

If this sounds like the type of conversation you would like to join into, and you live in the greater Portland metropolitan area, come on over to a heartspark Connections. Consider yourself personally invited!