“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.“ — Dolly Parton
We all know a work-life balance is essential. You love your job, but you also love your ‘kids’ – be they human or furry. You are passionate about helping your clients, but you’re also passionate about helping the environment. You find purpose at work, but you find fulfillment in relationships with your friends and family.
The problem is that work is the fuel that pays your bills, feeds your family, and provides for a better and more secure lifestyle. It’s easy to be consumed by it –especially in a society where more is more . . . is more.
But studies show working too much and carrying work home causes personal stress, creates tension in relationships, and is both mentally and physically unhealthy. Too much work leads to complete and total burnout. Finding balance is especially tricky with jobs that allow you to work from home or have more diverse and flexible hours than your standard 9 to 5. All easier said than done, right?
So, here are some tips to help you leave work at work and honestly go home after the workday.
- Be a List-Maker
Perhaps you are already a disciplined “list person,” but on the other hand, maybe the whole idea sounds too structured and rigid. We get it. We’ve been there, too. But the reality is that writing things down helps prioritize and organize your day.
Create a list of all that needs to be accomplished at the beginning of the workweek. (Sunday evening works well). Prioritize your list. Review it every morning, designating which items you will be tackling that day. Cross things off as you go –it’s both a reward and motivator. If you prefer to review the next day’s list before leaving at the day’s end, that also works well. Either way, just knowing you have a game plan helps you detach from the office and relieves stress.
- Clear Your Desk
Transitioning into home life is so much more challenging when all you can think about is the unfinished projects behind you. And while it is unrealistic to believe you can always tie up everything at work each day, it’s vital to get work done at work. (By the way, this is another place where those lists come in handy!)
- Set deadlines — follow your lists!
- Guard your time.
- Stay focused.
And because life happens, even at the office, you may need to re-define your limits and set new boundaries (that coincide with company guidelines, of course).
Plus, literally clearing and organizing your desk at the end of the day sets the stage for a fresh start the following day.
- Transition Patterns
To help you transition from a work mindset to a home mindset, create a transition pattern for yourself. Just something to signal the shift in your “mode.” Listen to a podcast or an audiobook on the way home. (About anything other than work!) Go on a walk. Grab a coffee. Take a shower and change your clothes. Meditate for 15 minutes or add three items to your gratitude journal. You know what works best for you – it isn’t what you choose to use as a transition tool –it’s doing it. Turning it into a habit prepares your mind and body for switching gears each day.
- Set Boundaries
Boundaries can be challenging, but they are essential. Set limits with yourself and your colleagues. If that means turning off phone notifications for your work email — do it. If it means telling your co-workers you’re not available after a specific time in the evening — do it. Of course, the boundary process will look different with different positions, but whatever is appropriate, stay the course and be diligent about following them.
- Do Something for Others
If work problems are mind-consuming, change your thought pattern by doing something outside of yourself for others. Maybe that looks like taking cookies to your lonely neighbor, volunteering at the homeless shelter, or calling your mom (and listening to her). There are many options. Doing for others helps us recognize there is more (much more) to life than just ourselves and our work issues. And, while taking our minds off work is a plus, acts of kindness and selflessness have also been shown to improve mental health and relieve stress!
- Cherish Your Life Outside of Work
Perhaps the best way to establish balance is to place enough value on your life and your loved ones. Life is short. Time is precious. We don’t know what tomorrow will look like –a truth reiterated by the pandemic. Recognizing this and taking it to heart will help you prioritize and cherish those moments at home.
At Hamilton Connections, we believe in building relationships. Whether you are an employer looking for workers, or a candidate looking for work, give us a call, and we will point you in the right direction! We love connecting the right people to the right people. Contact us today!