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7 ways to better disconnect from work

7 ways to better disconnect from work

While you now have a legal right to disconnect from work, you may still find it challenging to switch off when your working day ends.

Do you find yourself constantly thinking about work, checking emails, and responding to emails and text messages at all hours? It’s easy to be busy, busy, busy and always ‘on’.

Switching off and finding time to go slow in a world that rewards busyness is much more challenging. The good news is there are steps you can take to help you leave the work day behind.

Try these seven tips to better disconnect from work:

1. Schedule tomorrow

Before you finish your working day, write down what you want to achieve at work tomorrow. Outlining your tasks and scheduling your workday in advance helps to stop you from thinking and contemplating everything you need to do tomorrow.

2. Set boundaries

There are two types of boundaries: the boundaries you set with yourself and the ones you establish with your boss and work colleagues.

Switching off takes discipline, so you need to set boundaries with yourself about how you work. If you always take work home and answer emails late at night, you create a pattern of behaviour for yourself and those around you.

Also, set boundaries with your team. Agree on the protocols for handling calls and emails outside standard work hours.

3. Flick the ‘off switch’

Use technology to help you switch off. At set times, have your phone automatically switch to ‘do not disturb’ and turn off social media push notifications and email alerts.

Be judicious about what applications you allow to send you alerts and notifications. Regularly check and remove apps from your phone that you no longer use.

4. Establish rituals

Much of what we do each day is a habitual pattern of behaviour, so establish a routine that alerts your brain to the end of your working day.

It might be getting out of your work clothes, meditating, switching your phone to silent, listening to a podcast, or calling a friend.

5. Shake it off

In the iconic words of Taylor Swift, shake it off. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to leave your workday behind. Get the blood pumping and those endorphins zinging through your body.

Plan regular events in your calendar that force you to leave your work desk and not burn the midnight oil. It could be an art class, catching up with family or friends, or attending a community activity.

These activities or hobbies not only help you switch off but also help you maintain balance and connection.

6. Avoid the book-end approach

Avoid starting and finishing your day with technology.

Sleep is a critical ingredient for wellbeing, and technology impacts your sleep. Research shows that using technology emitting blue light stimulates the brain, making it harder to fall asleep. It can also negatively affect your circadian rhythm, reduce the amount of REM sleep you receive and, therefore, impact your alertness when you wake up.

Set a practice where you switch off your phone and digital devices at a set time each evening. If you need to wake up with an alarm clock, avoid the clock being your phone.

You want to avoid having your phone in the bedroom. And, keep your phone from being the first thing you turn to in the morning.

7. Book your next break

If you burn the candle at both ends — working late, taking work home, and always working weekends — you will eventually burn out. When you aren’t in good shape, your work suffers, as does your ability to handle stressful situations.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a long weekend or a mini-break is enough. Sure, breaks are great. But longer breaks – beyond a week – are what you need to rest, recharge and reset.

Michelle Gibbings

This article was written by Michelle Gibbings.

Michelle is a workplace expert and the award-winning author of three books. Her latest book is Bad Boss: What to do if you work for one, manage one or are one.

Learn more: michellegibbings.com