Leaving work at work can be hard at the best of times, let alone when you’re working from home. So, how can you leave work at work and ensure you keep your stress levels down when you’re working from home and when your office is the kitchen table?
Here are 7 ways to leave work at work while working from home
1. Get the most important things done
If there’s anything that will definitely stop you from being able to leave work at work it’s having loose ends, especially when that involves some of the most important tasks on your to-do list for the day.
Since there’s always going to be more to do, and there’s always that one last thing- tying things up isn’t about getting everything done. What’s important is that you tie up the biggest priorities and get the things that are most likely to keep you awake at night, completed. This way, no matter how many other things are still on your to-do list, you’ll feel a lot less stressed and better able to switch off.
2. Create rituals
According to the dictionary, a ritual is described as “a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.”
While we’re not talking about getting religious here, performing a series of actions in a prescribed order could be a great way to leave work at work.
For example, your series of actions could include:
- Checking in with your boss or a colleague [Related: 5 Simple Tips For improving Communication At Work]
- Having a final check through emails
- Reviewing your to-do list for that day to check where you are
- Writing your to-do list for the next day
- Tidying or clearing your desk.
Doing these 5 things exactly in that same order every single day at the end of your day, until it becomes a habit, will lead to you associating this process, or ritual, to the end of the working day.
Include a shower in your ritual.
While we’re talking about rituals, showers come to mind, because for me, there’s nothing that signifies the end of the day and start of my evening than a lovely shower.
You might be wondering if it’s better to have a shower int he morning or in the evening?
Well, I say do both.
Having a shower, or a bath if you prefer, is so relaxing. There’s a reason that SPAs have all that water. Water is relaxing and according to science warmth and heat can ease tension and anxiety, promoting relaxation.
3. Have a set workspace.
One tip that you will no doubt be aware of is the importance of having a specific space that’s just for work. While you might be dressed in your pajamas, working in your bed won’t do you any favors when it comes to leaving work at work when you’re working from home.
For one thing, this will play havoc with your sleep – and getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your productivity, focus, and success. But what’s more, working in every area of your home means there’s no safe space that’s not associated with work.
If having one set place for work doesn’t fit with your set up at home – then try having one or two spaces that are sacred where you promise yourself you will not work. That way, when it all gets too much, at least you’ll have an escape or sanctuary.
4. Clear your mind
If you’re wondering how on earth to clear your mind after a hectic day at work, or with all the uncertainty and anxiety that surrounds us now then it might be time to try meditation.
There are a number of scientifically-proven benefits of meditation. A few of these include.
- Reduced stress [Also check out these 5 simple things you can do to reduce stress, that you can start right now]
- Controlling anxiety levels
- Enhanced self-awareness
- Improved attention span
If you’ve tried meditation in the past and it hasn’t worked for you then there’s no better time than now to give it another go. After all, it’s not like you need to be somewhere.
It might help to remember that meditation can take many forms and doesn’t have to involve closing your eyes. There are many different ways to meditate – it’s about finding a way that works for you.
5. Have a workout
Nothing clears your head like work out. Whatever kind of day you’ve had, getting the oxygen and blood flowing is a sure-fire way to leave work behind. Whether you run away from it, walk away, cycle away or dance away- getting your body moving is a great way to put some distance between your evening time and your office time.
If you think you don’t have the time or the equipment you need, then think again.
Here’s a 7-minute workout that you can do from home, that will keep you on your toes and on top form.
6. Shift your focus
While you might struggle to meditate if you’re just starting out, there are lots of simple ways you can shift your focus.
The purpose of changing your focus is to be thinking about something else that’s doesn’t involve work. Leaving work behind.
The best part, it’s easy to do and you can tailor it to suit you. The ways in which you can change your focus are endless:
Work on a new project – This alone could be a million different things. From learning magic ( Yes this is a thing you can do) to learning to draw, to learning a new language. Whatever interests you. Literally having something else to put your attention and energy into works wonders. Before you know it you’ll be deep in concentration over something other than work. And you’ll find yourself relaxing and letting go in the process.
Call a friend or family member – Everyone can do with a friendly voice at the end of the phone right now. Why don’t you make someone’s evening by giving them a quick call – this will soon have you both thinking about new things- the challenge here is to resist the urge to talk about work or COVID-19 for that matter.
Watch, listen to or read something:
Whatever medium works for you when it comes to information- do that. Whether it’s watching videos on youtube, listening to podcasts, reading a book- the options are there. You just have to dive in. And whatever option you choose, there are plenty of inspiring, educational, interesting and motivating things to pick from. And of course, there are always hilarious things to keep you going too.
7. Set yourself boundaries and stick to them ( As much as possible)
When you work from home, setting yourself boundaries is critical. Yes, you can be available 24/7 online, on email, on the phone. But it that what you really want? And how effective or sustainable is this long term?
Creating boundaries or guidelines that you stick to will help you avoid creep. Because everything creeps if you let it.
The same way that just one more bite becomes the whole thing, just one more hour will quickly become 2, then 3, then 4 and before you know it, you’re on the road to burn out.
Before you hit that slippery slope, make a commitment to yourself. This doesn’t mean you won’t go the extra mile for your team – or that you drop everything at 5 pm sharp. Remember, leaving loose ends will only lead to stress and will not help you leave work at work.
Instead, create rules or guidelines to protect yourself from yourself, as we all must do sometimes. This could be anything, the most important thing is that you’re comfortable with it and stick to it.
Some examples include:
- I don’t work later than 5pm/ 6pm / 7pm- unless of a specific extenuating circumstance
- I always stop and have dinner with my family
- I stop and have a workout at Xpm every day
- I never do work in bed- this includes checking emails on my phone
- I will not check emails after Xpm.
As you can see, the exact times are not important. You might like to start work super early and finish early or be more of a late bird.
You might even have a much more varied routine if you work with clients or a team in different timezones. Ultimately, what matters is that you set some sort of boundaries for the sake of your long term health and sanity.
And don’t forget, what you do is what people come to expect. I once had a colleague who would be contacted by stakeholders at 10pm at night – because she picked up, they came to expect this as the norm –
Is that what you want for yourself long term?