The pandemic has spurred major changes in the work world in many ways. One of the biggest adjustments? Home has become the permanent office space for so many (or, for those working hybrid, a part-time office space).
But for many people, this change has blurred the boundaries between work and home more than ever.
Add in evolving technology and the modern workplace pressure to continue “grinding” (that is, working or thinking about work long after a shift has ended), and you may have found that clocking out of work is more difficult than simply getting in your car and driving home.
Many of us know from experience that a life far too weighted with work won’t necessarily help us in our personal or family lives. But if you want to be fully present during the time you do spend with your loved ones, our coaches have some tips to help you mentally clock out of work.
Why Do Our Brains Get Stuck at Work During Family Time?
According to a ManpowerGroup survey, 73% of Millennials are working more than 40 hours each week.
For many people, this time commitment emerges from factors that include working remotely, hustle culture, poor stress management, and pressure from supervisors.
Even if you’re someone who does clock out or log off when your workday officially ends, how do you prevent mental stressors about work from taking up the hours you spend with your family?
If you find yourself struggling, here are some tactics to help you become fully present during your personal time.
7 Tips to Mentally Clock Out of Work
1. Make a List for Your Future Self
List-makers, you’ll love this tip that Transformation Coach and Arootah Consultant, Lauren Bonheim, ACC, shares to help you disconnect from work.
“Brain dump all your tasks for the next day and week,” advises Bonheim. “If you’re the type of person that keeps thinking about all you have to do work-wise long after the workday ends, try making a list of all you need to do to ease your mind.”
If any idea or task pops into your head, drop it onto the list so you never have to worry about forgetting it. The result: less time running through to-dos, more time in which you’re fully present with family.
2. Give Your Body a Physical Reset
Exercising, taking a walk, or simply changing your clothes after work can help your brain clock out of office mode.
By physically getting up and moving your body, you can signal to your subconscious mind it’s time to redirect its focus on work to your home life. Many people love to exercise to clear their minds; similarly, you can train your body to leave work behind by heading to the gym after your workday.
If you don’t have time for a walk or a workout, switching into a different outfit can be an effective reset. Swapping work clothes for leisure clothes can help convince your brain you’ve moved on from work time to personal time.
3. Create Clear Boundaries When It Comes to your Schedule
Maintaining clear and strict boundaries around your time is one of the best ways to develop a healthy work-life balance. Treat your time with family like you would with any appointment and don’t be late!
Learning to communicate your boundaries and say “no” to working outside your normal working hours can be difficult. But with practice, you can get pretty great at it. In the long run, you’ll experience less mental stress once you learn to say “no” and can spend your time fully engaged with friends and family.
Also, just because you work at home doesn’t mean your kids or partner should be on standby. You wouldn’t keep your clients waiting on you an extra hour, right? Give your loved ones the same respect.
4. Get Down on the Ground…Literally
Have a young child or pet? Organizational Development Coach and Arootah Consultant Laxmi Dady recommends meeting them at their visual level.
“Especially babies or dogs, get on their level by laying on the ground and being with them,” says Dady. “It’s a great way to get out of the work zone.”
5. Turn off Your Electronic Devices
Shutting down your work computer, logging out of messaging platforms, and turning off notifications on your phone are all good ways to enforce your boundaries. You can also enable autoresponders to let people know your working hours while you’re away from the computer or phone.
While there are certainly work conflicts that will require your immediate attention, depending on your role or industry, most matters tend to be non-urgent. It’s often these negligible matters that can be the biggest time suck, however. Try to avoid getting into the habit of saying, “I’ll just finish this really quick” when you’re supposed to be on your personal time.
If you simply must check your email or phone periodically, give yourself a designated timeframe after hours or on the weekends to do work. Maybe you can work on that presentation after your kids go to bed on weeknights or an hour before your partner wakes up on Sundays so you can knock out emails over your morning latte.
6. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of connecting with the present moment. Being mindful helps you better manage your thoughts, so you can switch your focus from work to home life more effectively.
Our brains love to solve problems, and we often spend much of the day trying to achieve peak productivity. When you’re conscious of where you’re spending your mental energy, you’re better equipped to send it to the areas where you need to use it most.
7. Leave Your Physical Workspace
If you work from home, try to separate yourself from your physical office space. If you have an office door, shut it after your workday is done.
Maintaining these physical boundaries also means you should avoid spending the day working from your couch if you’re planning on using that space to watch a movie with your family later. It can be all too tempting to grab your phone or computer if you’re used to working in that area.
The Bottom Line
Having a healthy work-life balance is essential to your overall wellbeing. While we hope the company you work for (or run) values this balance, you can share the responsibility by enforcing boundaries.
The good news: Being fully present in your personal and family life is possible, especially when you make a conscious effort to switch your focus from work to home at the end of the day.
Need some help finding better balance and prioritizing various aspects of your life? An Arootah Life Coach can help you identify these areas and plan the next steps you need to take to achieve your goals.
How do you transition out of work at the end of the day? Do you have specific boundaries in place for work and family life? Share in the comments!