9 ways to disconnect from work after office hours

21 Oct 2022

Ever wondered about ways to stop thinking about work after office hours? If yes, you are among scores of other stressed employees who share similar concerns about effectively using off-work hours. In fact, some of these queries are even widely discussed on platforms like Quora.

In today’s technological era, completely cutting off from work after office hours can be seemingly difficult. Hence, it is important for employees to be able to disengage and re-connect at appropriate off-work hours and vacations. This then helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Here are a few ways in which employees can disconnect from work after designated office hours:

#1. Better planning of off-work hours

Often employees end up ruminating about work long after office hours. This may be through intrusive work thoughts, urge to re-check work emails, lining up tasks for the next day, preparing for meetings, presentations etc.

However, these can be avoided by judicious planning of how one can use their off-time. Breaking down time slots for various evening activities like watching TV, helping children in their homework and cooking can keep you busy. Consequently, your mind will be occupied with little time left to think about work.

#2. Designate non-work areas at home

Ensure that you clearly demarcate non-work areas at home. These could include your dining table, bedroom, garden etc.

Designating them as strict no-work zones will leave you with fewer options like the writing-desk or study to manage work. This habit then trains your mind to spend more time not thinking about work.

Even it is something as easy as checking your work emails on mobile phone, your brain instructs you to head to the desk, making it a less preferred activity.

#3. Tie all the loose ends before you head for the weekend

Try to sort all your emails, answer necessary calls and plan your calendar for the next week before you leave office on a Friday. It allows employees more room to chill over the weekend.

This way, you do not have to feel the pressure to constantly check your emails unless something urgent or unexpected crops up.

#4. Avoid checking your emails continuously

As reiterated earlier, a tendency to keep re-checking work emails eats up into an employee’s off-work time. To avoid this, try not to sync your mobile with your work-related inbox.

Setting a praiseworthy precedent, France in 2017 obligated companies to establish hours when their staff should not send/answer emails.

More industrialized states in different countries may soon follow the suit to adopt the progressive policy. Case in point, New York City (NYC) which is already mulling over bringing in a similar law.

#5. Shut down your devices

This is the suggested step for those employees who may find it increasingly difficult to keep away from checking work emails. In the process, what they do not understand is that they may end up responding to even less important correspondences.

In this regard, shutting down your mobile/laptop and keeping them away could help. Furthermore, this is inevitably advised when employees take longer vacations.

#6. Transitioning vibes

Transition rituals are those routine activities that signal your brain to switch off from work. These may range from simple actions like listening to your favorite podcast or calling your loved ones on your way back home.

Heading to the fitness center immediately after work can also work in this regard. Employees who depend on effective transition activities are likely to make a quick shift from work-related tensions.

#7. Mastery over hobbies/sports

Stimulating off-work experiences like hobbies or sports can significantly help employees unwind from work. Engaging in a team sport, painting, playing a musical instrument, pottery, volunteer work etc. are a few examples.

Empirical studies done by Sonnentag and others elucidated how mastery over these challenging tasks can help employees relax without overtaxing their capabilities.

#8. Stop talking about work at home

Unless really necessary, people should leave behind their work at office. Seems pretty impossible? Well, you may be pleasantly surprised when you manage to do it without much fuss.

Begin with basic rules like avoiding work-related conversations at home. Strictly limit it to how good or bad the day was and steer away from talking about technical aspects of work with your family.

#9. Be part of social groups with non-co-workers

Join a collective of people that suit your interests and pastimes. Be it a trekking club, a drama group or a bunch of eco-conservationists. Take your pick and engage yourself in conversations that enrich your knowledge/experience in the field you love.

Opening up to people other than your colleagues will not only broaden your understanding of things but will also relieve work-related stress.

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