How to Unplug at the End of the Day
Although working from home has many benefits, including flexibility and more free time, having your office inside of your home can also cause some difficulties.
One of the main struggles of all remote employees is unplugging at the end of the day. Having your workplace only a couple of steps away can make it hard to truly disconnect from work when your working hours are behind you.
The resulting inability to shift your focus to your personal life can not only be inconvenient and distracting, but it can also affect your productivity in the long run. After all, we all need a rest in order to remain motivated and efficient when we get back to work.
If you find yourself facing this problem, the good news is that there are a couple of things you can do to help yourself unplug and fully enjoy your free time. Below are some general guidelines you can follow to get yourself on the right track.
Create a Border between Work and Leisure
People tend to get used to a certain space or surroundings and associate them with their activities there. This is why you want to separate your workspace from the rest of your home and use the same area for work every day.
Otherwise, you may find yourself struggling to get into a working mindset, as well as having trouble detaching yourself from work. Being able to simply leave your workspace will go a long way in helping you shift your focus to other things, without work-related issues lingering in your mind.
If converting an entire room into an at-home office is not an option for you, consider designating a corner of your home as a work-only area and try to not use it for any other activities. Another thing you can do is use different computers for work and leisure, or at least create separate accounts for these purposes.
Leaving your WFH office, shutting down your work computer, or switching accounts will all serve as a sign to your brain that it’s time to leave work behind and focus on your personal life. Of course, it may take some time and discipline at first, but once you get used to it, switching off will become far easier.
Create a Post-Work Routine
Creating a post-work routine and sticking to it is another effective way of creating triggers for your brain that the work is done for the day. These rituals can vary based on your personality and preferences, but they should be some form of activity that you can do at the end of every workday.
Walking your dog, taking a bath, or having a glass of your favorite drink while listening to some music are all great ways to clear your mind and transition from work to leisure. You can also finish your working hours by making a plan for the following day, as a way disconnecting from work.
Regardless of what type of ritual you create, it’s important to follow through with it every day until it becomes a habit.
You can also use routines for the opposite effect. Beginning each day with the same set of activities can help you get off to a productive start. Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee, a walk, or a jog, morning rituals can be effective in terms of preparing for your workday and improving your focus.
Set limits and manage expectations
The digital era we live in makes it easy to be available at all times. While occasionally replying to an email or having a work-related talk with a co-worker during your free time is alright, you need to be careful not to make a habit of it.
Make sure you have clearly defined work hours and that your colleagues are familiar with them. Apart from expecting others to respect your free time, you should also do so yourself. Checking your inbox or organizational platform when you are supposed to be relaxing is bound to make it hard for you to disconnect and enjoy other activities.
Manager expectations are another important issue to address. While you certainly want to be productive and do your absolute best, it’s crucial to know your limits and set realistic goals. Overworking yourself may give some short-term results, but in the long run, you need to be comfortable with the amount of work assigned to you.
Your best course of action is to have an open discussion with your supervisor and set mutually agreeable objectives and expectations. After all, working from home does not mean you should be working more than you normally would.
Finally, it may be a good idea to create a to-do list for each day. If your goals are realistic, you shouldn’t have a problem with completing all your tasks for the day, and once you’ve checked the last item on the list, you can start relaxing and savoring the sense of accomplishment.
Keep Up With Your Hobby or Take Up a New One
Hobbies are also a good way to shift your focus away from work, without feeling like you are wasting your time. Whether you play an instrument, dabble in painting, or have a small workshop, make sure you don’t neglect the activities you enjoy. On the other hand, if you have no hobbies, taking one up is something you should definitely consider.
Engaging in rewarding activities that give you a sense of fulfillment while also challenging you to get better at them is probably the most effective way of mentally detaching from work. However, it may be hard to make enough time in your busy schedule for additional activities, especially ones that require focus and commitment.
Still, with some good time management skills, you should be able to free up an hour or two for a hobby.
Apart from helping you unplug, hobbies can also improve your productivity, creativity, and focus, which certainly makes the extra effort put into organization worth it.
Log Off and Leave Your Work Area Out of Sight
Having your workplace and equipment within your home can make it difficult to physically detach yourself from work like you would by leaving the office. However, it should be possible, especially if you implement some of the tips given above.
Creating an experience similar to your company office will make it easier to avoid being at work all the time. Once you have finished everything planned for the day, or your working hours have passed, make sure you leave your office (virtual or otherwise).
Log off and close all work-related tabs. If you have a separate computer for work, shut it down and leave your office. Having anything you associate with your job out of sight during your free time is the best way to ensure you don’t keep thinking back on what you’ve been doing that day and what you are planning to do tomorrow.
Instead, focus on the activities you enjoy and allow yourself to truly wind-down. If possible, spend some quality time with your friends and family, and try to spend some time outdoors. After all, all your work will still be there in the morning.
Working from home opens a world of possibilities and can be quite a rewarding experience once you become adept at managing your time and balancing work and personal life. Learning how to unplug at the end of the day is essential for the latter, and will greatly contribute to your productivity and job satisfaction.
Use the tips in this article as guidelines and find a system that works for you and your unique situation. Although it may sound easier than it actually is, creating a border between work and leisure, sticking to your routines, and managing time and expectations should start showing results soon enough.
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