In the developed world, it can be very difficult to find a job that is truly 9-5. This can be attributed to the impact technology has had on the world. We are always answering email, starting a new project right when the last one finishes, and going, going, going. It can be difficult to separate your work life from your home life because it is so easy to answer that email, or do something that will only take a few minutes. The problem is we don’t stop working. We are always looking for the edge, or one up to the next level. There is this belief that if we stop working someone will pass us, or the job won’t get done. What needs to happen is we need to begin to separate our work and home lives in order to thrive in both. Below are some tips to use during your day and week to help separate work and home, and help combat burnout.
Plan Tomorrow Today
Before you leave work, plan your day, or at least look at your calendar to see what is coming up for the rest of the week. Do you have a meeting, a deadline to meet, an email to send, anything? Whatever you have on your plate, you can hit the ground running tomorrow by taking 10-15 minutes at the end of each day to figure things out. A lot of the time we avoid this at the end of the day because our brains are fatigued from all of the thinking we have done all day. To combat this, have a quick snack about an hour before you intend to leave work, like nuts or a piece fruit. The carbohydrates will become sugar, and in turn will actually help improve your willpower within 30-45 minutes. This will help give you that extra processing power you need to make those final end-of-day decisions.
Leave Work at Work
Stop bringing work home. By doing this you are telling yourself that you need to work when you get home, and in turn all of the time. You are also telling your boss and colleagues that you intend to do work at home, potentially giving you more work to do. Even if you don’t do any work at home, the act of bringing something with you just to bring it back to work subconsciously creates stress in your body because you have the lingering feeling you should be working. By leaving your work at work, you free up your evening. It is impossible to work when you don’t have the materials, supplies, or resources readily available. A weight will be lifted off your shoulders because you won’t be able to work, allowing you to enjoy your home life with who matters- family and friends.
Don’t Answer Work Related Email/Calls After Work
Speaking of leaving work at work, it can be very hard to not answer email when away from work for many people, but try it. Answering email or calls after work lets the whole world know they can get a hold of you at any time. People then begin to expect this, and will get annoyed when you are not available because you are out at a family event. Another thing you are doing when answering/sending emails outside of work hours is raising your own stress levels because you are not getting the down time you need. Additionally, you are sending a message to your colleagues that they should be checking their email after work too. Doing this makes a workplace less efficient, and the added stress it causes has been one reason countries like Finland and France are banning employers from requiring their employees to check email outside of work hours. This will take discipline to accomplish in the beginning, but you will thank yourself for doing it.
Devote Specific Times for Email
While at work, schedule one or two times during the day to devote to checking your email. This will free up the rest of your day to focus on other tasks. To help, set up an automatic reply to respond outside of your email times to senders. It can be as simple as, “I only check my email at 10 and 3 o’clock each day. If you have an urgent matter, and need to get a hold of me, please call ___.” Doing this gives people the opportunity to call you for urgent matters, and ensures people know when they can expect to hear back from you. You will save yourself a ton of time because you will only spend the allotted time to your email. Once I started doing this, I found I was more productive, and I started to receive less email. I have taken this strategy a step further to no longer checking my email in the morning. This way, I am beginning each day on my schedule instead of someone else’s.
Stop Seeing Your Home Life as Work
There are a lot of things to do after work that have nothing to do with your job description. Laundry to do, a yard to upkeep, a house to clean, the list is endless. Stop seeing these tasks as work. You worked at your job, what you do at home is either a choice, or a way to get something you need. Your home life can be very relaxing if you just see it as relaxing. The way I get around thinking of laundry as a chore is to do it while I work out. I put a load in the washer or dryer and fold clothes between sets. It works, try it. When working on your lawn, or your house, you are doing this to make it look the way you want, so see it as you are improving your home so you can continue to enjoy it. The big thing here is changing your perspective to “I want to be doing these things” as opposed to “do I have to?” Begin to see your home life as your down time, even when you are doing something that may not be the most fun. Once you begin to look at it this way, your home life will become your getaway.
Plan a Family Day at Least Once a Week
Family is so important that I can’t begin to express the impact they have on your life. Make sure they know this by giving them the time they deserve. Take an evening, or a weekend day to have a time where you are together and enjoying each other’s company. This can be a movie night, day in the park, or ice cream from the shop down the street. The important thing is you are together. My wife and I have Lazy Monday, where we will not do any house work, work out, or do any other chore-like task. Instead we spend time together and with our families not worrying about the business of the world.
Stop Using the “B” word
Speaking of busy, stop saying you are busy. By saying this, you are letting your mind and body know that you are too busy, raising stress levels. For more information about why you should stop saying you are busy, read my article here. The main idea behind changing your vocabulary is you will stop using negative words, allowing yourself to become more productive while relieving stress. You can use this strategy for any negative word you find yourself saying often. The words we use affect us down to our core, and it is important to be conscious of how we use words, and to ensure we decrease the amount of negative words used while increasing positive speak.
Balancing your work and home lives is exactly that, a balancing act. Things come up in both realms of your life, and how you deal with them will determine how well you are able to keep your life in check. The biggest issue today is that work and home life have started to become one with a stronger emphasis on work as technology increases and more and more people begin to be on call 24/7. A key to having a well-balanced life is to separate your work and home life so you can be your best person in each role. Stay conscious of your surroundings, and take a positive outlook on the things happening in your life. Keeping this frame of mind will allow you to appreciate everything happening in your home life as well as becoming more productive at work. You will also recognize when to stop working and really enjoy life because that is really what it is all about!