How To Switch Off From Work: Tips & Tricks For Unplugging From Your Day Job

Whether you work from home or commute to an office, leaving your work at work can be a struggle. We have some tricks up our sleeves to help you disconnect from your job and let you enjoy your precious downtime.
by Erika Jeffrey / 2021-07-24

System malfunction

Every day we're groomed to believe that to be a success, we have to work ourselves into the ground. The corporate world convinced us that we must put in extra hours and go above and beyond our call of duty to be worthy.

The pressure is on to stand out at work. Oftentimes to excel in our careers, we sacrifice our sanity and downtime. The hard truth is, the ship will still sail without you. So why carry the excess worry with you after hours?

You do your work. You try your best. You deserve time to relax and unwind after a long day.

Here are some methods to switch off from work to be fully present with your family, friends or even yourself. Try one (or some) out this week to see how it goes.

Set up a pre-exit routine

One of the biggest challenges of leaving work at work is when you have things left on your plate that you didn’t get to. If you pride yourself on a job well done, an unchecked task does not sit well with you.

That’s okay - it means you have a solid work ethic and care about what you do. But we digress – sometimes we care too much and that extra stress carries over into our homelife. Not cool.

Here’s an idea: have a dedicated notebook or word doc to list your next day’s tasks.

Set a daily, recurring alarm that goes off 20 minutes before the end of your shift. Take a couple minutes to jot down any remaining tasks you didn’t get to that day. This way you have a clean to-do list for the next morning. You no longer need to carry that stress about what still needs to get done.

It will get done. Tomorrow.

Once you wrap up that final email or hang up with your last call, turn off your computer and leave. Since you have a plan set up for the next day, you won’t have to carry that stress home with you.

Get up and go

This tip seems easy enough, but how many times do you find yourself glued to your seat to knock out one last email? How about getting wrapped up in a conversation when you’re trying to leave?

It’s even worse when the conversation you’re involved in is with an authority figure. We can’t tell you how many times there’s been 5 minutes left on the clock and the manager walks in. They have all day to touch base, but want to ask about an upcoming project or try and strike up a conversation now. Ugh.

In this instance, politely let them know you are aware of the situation and that you are working on it. If you know it will be wrapped up by tomorrow, let them know that, and majority of the time that’s enough to satisfy them.

If you know that last email requires a hefty response, let them know you’ll get back to them in the morning. Most of the time, it can wait.

Hit send. Bid your pleasant goodbyes and GO HOME! If you’re working from home, get up from your designated work area and go to another room.

Set up a post-work activity

Once you leave work, have a post-work activity lined up. After some consistency, your brain will associate the activity with being home. This will help move you closer to your goals of leaving work at work.

  • Take a quick walk. This is an easy (and healthy) way to switch off from work and let your body know it’s now your time. Connecting with nature decreases stress, boosts serotonin levels, and calms the mind. Taking a walk, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, also decreases stress. It gets your blood pumping, and can energize you for some quality time with loved ones.
  • Play with your pet. Studies have shown that giving your furbaby some love alleviates stress. It also can boost the love hormone, oxytocin. Take your pup outside and play, or cuddle with your cat. Connecting with animals will distract you from the long day of work you faced and can help pull you out of any funk.
  • Meal prep dinner. Once you log off from work, it’s likely about time for dinner. Depending on when you eat, you can either prep for the dinner, or go all in and start cooking! The benefits of prepping a home-cooked meal are impressive. You tend to eat healthier, gain a sense of pride, and can slip into a state of flow while creating your yummy meal.
  • Meditate. By now you’ve heard the undeniable benefits of meditating, so why not give it a shot? Find a nice, quiet spot where you can sit comfortably for 10 minutes. Focus on your breath to begin, and notice any thoughts that drift on by, and let them pass. The purpose of meditation is not to stop thinking, but to practice mindfulness. Oftentimes we forget that it’s just as important to workout your mind as it is your body, which brings us to the next idea.
  • Exercise. Whether you prefer running or yoga, doing any kind of physical activity will be a positive choice. Fitting in a workout right after work is an excellent method to leave work behind in the dust.
  • Jump into your hobby. Pay an instrument? Pick ‘er up and pluck some chords or toot some tunes! Prefer drawing? Have your sketchbook armed and ready to go! Gamer? Hop on and engage for a bit! Find something that brings you joy and dive in. You'll forget about work in no time.
  • Read a chapter. Do you have a stack of books sitting around that you’ve been meaning to get to? Pick one up and read a chapter after work to create that divide. Get whisked away to a faraway land or learn a new skill that ignites curiosity within.

When you have something to look forward to after work, it will make the transition that much smoother. It will redirect your focus and bring you the closure you’re after.

Turn off notifications

If you’re able, turn off those pesky email notifications on your phone. Those pings are not doing you any favors. They distract you from your family and friends and can derail your downtime.

Your phone is likely already a source of distraction, don’t add fuel to that fire.

The work will be there tomorrow. No need to dwell on it after hours.

We hope some of these suggestions will help you switch off from work. Downtime helps decompress the mind and body after going through the trials of work. Be present with your family, and carve out time to connect with yourself.

Work is important, but it shouldn’t monopolize every waking moment of your life.

Always try your best and you’ll have no reason to bring any worry home with you. Remember to be kind to yourself - you and your loved ones deserve it.

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