Tips for Turning Off the Workday

Living in an era of hyperconnectivity has its challenges. While instant access to resources and information has revolutionized how we communicate in an interconnected society, it has become really difficult to disconnect at the end of the workday. When workplace stress bleeds into our personal space, it takes a toll on our personal relationships as well as our physical and mental health. So how do we do a better job of turning off the workday and shifting focus to our personal lives?

It starts with a few simple habits you can easily integrate into your daily routine. At the end of the workday, try some of these simple strategies to help leave work at work.

Make a List . Whether you like a classic pen and paper checklist or prefer a digital assistant that keeps your tasks on track, list-making remains one of the most effective organizational habits. Not only do lists help you stay focused and prioritize what needs to be done, checking off completed items is a physical acknowledgment of what you have accomplished.

Preparing your to-do list for the following day signals to your brain that you’ve got an organized plan in place for the day ahead and helps thwart lingering thoughts about work once you’ve left the office.

Do one more thing . Tackling one final task before shutting down is a great way to end the day with one final fist pump in the air and one less thing to do tomorrow.

It might be as simple as responding to one more email in your inbox or walking that invoice over to accounting instead of leaving it for the following morning. The extra boost of confidence you get from that last blast of productivity feels great and sets the tone for a positive evening ahead.

Create a “anchor quick charge” . Among her tips for achieving better work-life balance , executive coach and author, Deborah Bright, suggests choosing an action or ritual that symbolizes the end of the workday. An “anchor quick charge” might include texting/phoning home to say you’re on your way or turning off your monitor at the end of the day.

“Consistent use of this designated anchor will enable you to take control of your emotions and shift your mental state, just as if you were clocking out on a timesheet,” explains Bright.

Tidy up . Starting the day with a desk that is clean and organized is one of the best ways to ensure a stress-free approach to the day ahead. Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to file away stacks of papers and declutter your workspace really helps to close one workday and prepare for the next.

And don’t forget about that email inbox! Filing away those completed email threads is on par with the deep satisfaction that comes with checking items off that to-do list.

Resist temptation to unload at home . It can be so tempting to provide friends and family with a blow-by-blow description of the workday’s events to unload the day’s frustrations. But hauling negativity and stress into your personal sphere can ultimately do more harm than good, and does nothing to help establish those important boundaries between work and home.

Effectively transitioning to civilian life once you walk in the front door can be as simple as shifting your focus to the people who greet you there. Rather than telling them all about your day, ask what good or exciting things happened to them instead. “The idea is to take the focus off yourself,” says Bright. “And, if someone asks, ‘How was your day?’ resist lengthy explanations unless you think they can help resolve a hanging concern.”

Achieving true work-life balance can be tough. But some subtle changes can really help ritualize the important transition from a day’s work to the personal space you need to fully recharge and be present with family and friends.

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