In the evening when you’re leaving work and then you get home do you find your mind getting pulled back to the office? If you are finding it hard to stop thinking about all that happened, or you still have to do, at office during those precious few hours when you should be giving your family your full attention, you are not alone. CNN once applauded Sheryl Sandberg in a headline story for leaving work at 5:30 pm. That was just one of many headlines congratulating the chief operating officer at Facebook for leaving work at a reasonable hour to spend time with her kids. Sure, she’s hustled for years and can afford to step back and have others assist her with the rest of the day. But most of us aren’t at that point in our careers yet; we have demanding bosses or are entrepreneurs who can’t step away, though we should for the benefit of our family life and our health.
According to Jessica Toothman, a contributor to How Stuff Works’ Lifestyle section, people who bring home their jobs with them in the evening do not how to relieve their stress and fatigue by simply saying to the annoying message chime on their cell phones: Too bad, I’m off the clock! “Sure, during crunch time, you may find yourself needing to clock a few hours working from the couch at night,” says Toothman. “But for most people, it’s just a lack of boundaries that makes work pile up on the bedside table.”
Leaving work effectively means you should start by analyzing where your time in the day really goes. During those eight hours at work are you fully committed to getting things done or are you chatting online or surfing social media? To properly understand how much time you’re being productive and how much time you’re wasting, you can use tools such as RescueTime.com for better time management. They’ll offer you insight into what you’re doing with your computer time and the motivation to avoid distractions. Or simply be severe with yourself about blocking out time throughout your day for solely work and no distractions. Say no to colleagues who want to chat a little too much at the water cooler or that family member who wants you to send them more photographs of your child. Working in a highly disciplined way may not allow you to leave work at 5:30 pm five nights a week, but it might help you achieve at least a few nights a week to relax at home.
Next, simply turn those gadgets off. Whether it’s your smartphone or laptop, unless you are a doctor on call or Jennifer Lopez’s personal assistant, and they’re actually paying you to be available 24/7, power down. Don’t stress yourself out by checking your email and being tortured with what your coworker or boss just wrote you so you have to watch it circle around your head all night. Instead, deal with any issues that arise during your private time when you’re back at work and on company time.
As PsychCentral reports, if you love your family and you love you work, one of the keys to balancing this equation is being fully present wherever you are at the moment. In the best-selling book, Five Good Minutes in the Evening: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You Unwind from the Day and Make the Most of Your Night by Jeffrey Brantley MD & Wendy Millstine NC, many of the activities in this book suggest simply breathing or listening mindfully to what’s immediately around you. When you walk out of that office, clear your head of burdensome thoughts and what you left undone at work. Tomorrow you’ll have a chance to get to it. Tonight, there is no room for work.