- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On March 13, 2015
- Career management
It was bad enough when it was just email on your home computer.
Now, your smartphone give you access to work (and work access to you) anytime, anywhere. It’s easy—too easy—for anyone to phone or text you after hours, and you can’t tell them that you missed their call simply because you weren’t at home anymore. The tool that you can’t live without during the day is the same one you can’t live without at night either, which can quickly cause problems when you try to unwind at home.
All that interconnectedness is great, but an unfortunate side effect is that it’s easier than ever to turn into a workaholic, whether you mean to or not. It’s probably causing a lot of your stress, and, even worse, it can seem almost impossible to put things in reverse once you’ve started down that path.
Much like caffeine or biting your nails, letting work have a place at home is a habit that takes time and effort to change. So how can you let it go without setting off an eternal winter everywhere and running off into the mountains? Here are a few things you can try.
Don’t bring work home
It may seem obvious, but it’s the best thing you can do if you’re looking to have a little more “you time.” Leave that folder on your desk—it’ll still be there when you get back to the office. Even if you tell yourself you’re only going to skim things, it’s all too easy for a few minutes to turn into a few hours as the evening passes and the “I’m almost done”s pile up. If you don’t bring it home in the first place, you avoid setting a trap for yourself to fall into.
Turn off your email
It’s easy to turn off new message notifications in Outlook and other email programs. If you can’t help but look, maybe you need to go one step further and turn your email off entirely when you’re in the office. Sure, you’ll have a few more messages to go through in the morning, but the world won’t end if they wait until then. There are even apps for your smartphone that will disable your email at night so you’re not tempted to take a peak when your favorite show or the ballgame goes to a commercial.
Do something else
If you’re trying not to do one thing, a good solution is to do another one. Don’t let yourself sit in front of the TV all night, because your mind is sure to wander when the action hits a lull. Pick up a new hobby instead—or revive a new one. The best way to break a bad habit will always be to replace it instead of trying to quit it cold turkey. To really make sure work can’t interfere, pick something with a fixed time every day and schedule it for right after you leave the office or right after you have dinner with the family.
Everyone needs to unwind sometimes, but making it your new after-work habit can do wonders for your stress levels and, in turn, your productivity when you get back to the office. Let us know if you’ve got your own preferred ways of balancing work and the rest of your life.