The rise of smartphones means we’re constantly connected, so the temptation to bring your work home with you is greater than ever. But in an age where your emails are never more than an arm’s reach away, how do you stop your 9 to 5 from becoming 24/7?
Here are Zoek’s top tips for switching off from work to achieve a healthier work-life balance.
Forget Me Not
Break tasks down into manageable chunks to avoid ruminating about ‘unfinished business’ when you leave the office. 1980s phenomenon ‘the Zeigarnik Effect’ means that unfinished tasks play on your mind more than completed ones, making it harder to focus on the positive and let go of the negative. This, in turn, increases your stress levels, making high ruminators more susceptible to ‘cognitive errors’. In other words, they’re more likely to make mistakes and be forgetful because they’re too busy worrying about other things.
Beware of ‘fake breaks’
Switching off from work isn’t just about the time you’re at home. Be sure to take at least twenty minutes for lunch and use the time to actually relax. Five minutes of online window shopping and fifteen of scrolling through Twitter faster than the speed of light may constitute a break in some people’s books, but it’s also enough to send your brain into overdrive. Think about how fast your brain needs to work to process all of those tweets, hashtags and mentions… exhausting, isn’t it? Now think about getting some fresh air or talking to your colleagues face-to-face about non-work related topics instead. Better? We thought so.
If you can’t face the prospect of logging off when you clock out, try limiting how much of your down time becomes overtime. According to a recent survey, 60% of employers expect their employees to reply to emails outside office hours. So, unless you’re in the lucky 40%, try designating a timeslot for answering emails at home. Putting half an hour aside later in the evening means you won’t spend time worrying about work when you should be relaxing. This way you can keep both your boss and your brain happy. By pencilling this time slot in around 8pm, you can allow yourself at least an hour of tech-free downtime before your head hits the pillow. This will decrease your need for REM (dreaming) sleep, improving the quality of sleep.
Distract Yourself To De-stress Yourself
It’s a well-known fact that exercise boosts endorphins, which in turn lower stress hormones, but you don’t have to go all-out to achieve this lift in spirits. Simply walking in a park or other green space can trigger what is known as ‘involuntary attention’. This means that your mind is distracted while simultaneously allowing itself to fall into a state of meditation. Listening to music can have a similar effect. Fill your commute with feel-good tunes to lift your mood. And if neither of those options sound like your cup of tea, find something that does. Be it bird-watching, yoga or anything in between, find a hobby that makes you happy and stick with it.
Early To Bed, Early To Rise
Make sure you get the recommended seven to eight hours sleep per night. It might sound simple but it’s all too easy to get trapped in the paradox of overworking; you stay up late to finish a task only to find yourself tired and inefficient the next day, leaving yet more tasks unfinished. A good night’s sleep can contribute mightily to a brighter and more productive day.
Let It Go
If you find yourself sitting at home worrying about work just remember that there’s really very little you can do until you get into the office the next morning. Try making a list of the things causing you to be stressed, in order of priorities, and put it (and your worries) aside until the next day. What’s more, the majority of worries never materialise, which means that worrying is generally a waste of both time and energy.
If you find your job spilling out of office hours all too regularly, it may be time for a change. Why not download the Zoek app to let your new job find you? The app for faster, smarter recruitment can be downloaded on iOS and Android.
Interested in finding out more about the subjects raised on this page?
Simply click on the tags below to read related blog posts...