The other day a client remarked that they left work depressed every weekday and thought about work more than they cared to admit.
We've all had jobs that leave us ranting and raving well into our non-work time or ruminating over difficult conversations, mistakes or what might have been.
Even jobs and businesses we love can take over our time off!
Some people argue that it's okay to think about work all the time if you love it, but I believe that no matter the quality of your working life, you need to switch off and live a life outside of work.
Happily, I'm supported by a range of research on that!
So how do we go about kicking work out of our heads and making the most of our time off?
First things first...
1. Get conscious
- Decide to evict work from your mind -
How angry are you when you realise you're only getting paid $10 an hour because you are WORKING ALL THE TIME. Yep, work is happening in your head long after you clock off.
Half the battle to having real time off is deciding that work is not going to take over your evenings and weekends, hell, even your mornings (I'm looking at you morning wake up emailer) any more.
It's bad for your health, your relationships and your productivity. Soak that in for a minute.
- Make boundaries -
Some people don't have enough support at work and really need to workshop what has happened or will happen at work of an evening. If this is you, set a timer with a loud alarm and don't go over it.
Give yourself 5, 10 or 15 minutes to get things off your chest or workshop an issue. When the alarm goes off, it's all over.
Trust me, your partner or housemate will be thrilled!
If you want to nut out a problem, write it down and at least that way your brain wont be trying to remember to remind you all night. Tell yourself firmly that you will work out the problem faster with a fresh brain (and on the clock).
2. Transition properly between work and home
What do you do before you leave work?
One of the best ways to leave work at work is to write a list of what to do when you come in the next day or week.
It helps your mind know that everything is taken care of so that it can relax.
What do you do on your way home from work?
It's time to get conscious about transitioning between work and home.
Social workers and other professionals with intense client interactions have processes for transitioning for a reason: It protects mental and physical wellbeing.
Some transitions that work well are:
- Listening to a funny podcast or radio station.
- Changing clothes.
- Having a shower and imagining the day washing away.
- Imagining dropping clients at a tram or bus stop on your way home.
- Imagining putting work in a box that you will open again tomorrow.
- For those with a lot of tension: Stretching, sprinting on the spot and yes, screaming in the car (not at anyone).
Try putting reminders to yourself so that you can leave work at work.
3. Create time off that you are excited about!
We get so tired sometimes that we forget life is meant to be joyful. I'm not talking about being happy all the time. I'm talking about simple pleasures, laughter, good friends and things that make your insides exhale and feel free.
So what would feel exciting tonight?
What would feel like freedom?
What would feel like love?
What would make you proud to have done (love this one from Susan Hyatt)?
Remember: The more you do things you love instead of living on autopilot, the more energy you will have (within reason!).
It will take more effort than the couch, but the rewards will be huge.
You can do it!