The term “work-life balance” is one that’s often ignored – but certainly shouldn’t be. For many people who are investing their lives into their career, it can be hard, and sometimes near impossible, to unplug after leaving the office. A quick email here. A small WhatsApp message to deal with a work issue. A late-night work call. These are all tiny (yet massive!) ways we allow our work into our homes, long after we’ve clocked out for the day.
The rise of technology – and the round-the-clock availability that it provides – can do wonders for us professionally: allowing us to connect with people globally, constantly learn without leaving our homes, and even work remotely on days that going into the office just isn’t possible. But it has also allowed us to give our work 24 hours of our day.
Now, we’re not saying to go off the grid and suddenly ignore all work commitments. But balance is key, and there needs to be set moments where you can turn off your phone, or your work brain, and commit to being there in the moment. With your family, your friends, or just by yourself. It’s important for your mental health to let go sometimes – as hard as that may sound.
So if you’re struggling to distance yourself from work once five pm hits, try adopting these tactics to help you unplug.
1: WRITE IT DOWN:
For most who continually bring work home with them, it’s due to the fear of not getting things done – or leaving things to be done and quite simply forgetting. Enter the old school pen and paper. Have a work thought after hours? Allow yourself a minute to write it down, add it to the to-do list and then move on. Keep all of these thoughts, to-dos and notes jotted down in one central place, so you’re not likely to forget them the next day, and you can sleep soundly knowing you’re all set with fresh, clear goals for the morning in the office. Try doing this before you even leave the office to allow yourself total “unplugging” at home!
2: EMBRACE AFTER-WORK FUN:
Most people find it hard to switch off after work because they’re going straight home. By committing time and energy to activities you enjoy after work, you’re more likely to leave the office on-time and behind for the night. Whether it’s hitting the gym for an hour, going for drinks with friends, or just putting aside the time for self-care, make it a priority. That means prioritizing this time for you the same way you would if it were a meeting or appointment, by scheduling it into your planner or calendar.
3: LITERALLY UNPLUG:
We know that in the age of technology, it can feel near impossible to turn everything off, but sometimes it’s what you need. Assess yourself: do you tend to fall into the trap of doing work whenever you’re scrolling on your computer, or do you answer work emails on your cellphone? Whichever tool (or all!) that is your gateway to work-land, turn it off or pack it away for the night. Unwind with old-school books, quality time with family or friends, or by delving into a new hobby. Your mental health will thank you!