7 Ways To Not Let Work Come Home With You At The End Of The Day
It always starts off small: At first your bring your laptop home, just to answer a few emails before bed. Or you take your cell phone to the restaurant, in case something crazy happens while you're eating burgers. But after a while, you being to notice you have no work-life balance. The laptop is constantly out while you're watching Netflix, you're checking emails in between bathroom runs at bars, you skip out on girls' nights to catch up on work over the weekend, and the only time your loved ones see you is in between computer battery charges. So how do you get back on track and not let your work load take over your life?
The easy answer is to leave work at the office, but not everyone is able to go cold turkey like that. Instead, you can try doing baby steps (like taking your phone out only once a weekend,) or you can try restructuring your attitude towards what it means to do a good job or what defines success. If you get a more realistic, tangible idea of what those kinds of things mean to you, then you can begin to bring back balance to your life. You can do this! Below are seven ways to not let work come back home with you.
1. Substitute The Word "Perfect"
It's a great thing to be an over-achiever, except when it starts nudging other important things out of your life. If you have a habit of bringing work back home with you and making less time for friends, loved ones, or hobbies and other activities, then it's time to take a step back and check yourself. Career writer Deborah Jian Lee from Forbes observed, "As you climb the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities mushroom. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive..."
Rather than trying to polish ever task, project, and to-do into a perfect gleam, settle for doing an amazing job but not a perfect one. Not every "i" needs to be dotted every time, so don't drive yourself crazy by insisting it needs to be. That way, you can actually focus on "home" stuff at home.
2. Carve Out "No Touchie" Time Blocks
Sometimes you can't avoid bringing a little work home and, while that's annoying, it's sometimes unavoidable. To counterbalance that, though, make sure that every week you have "no touchie" time blocks set into your planner, meaning that there's absolutely no way that you can do anything work related during those periods. Whether it's your weekends, a couple of evenings, or specific hours you know you can nab drinks with your friends, this habit can help you hit more of a work-life balance.
Emotional intelligence expert Harvey Deutschendorf from entrepreneur site Fast Company said, "People who have managed to carve out a work-life balance that works for them don’t just wait to see what time is left over after work. They make a point of planning and booking time off to spend outside of work and powerfully guard this time." So take out a pen and block those times off — you won't have an excuse of being swamped with work that way!
3. Focus On The Big Tasks At Work
Maybe the reason you need to bring work home with you is because you don't focus on the big, money-moving tasks first. Instead of doing the house-keeping tasks while at the office, jump right into your to-do list by tackling the big projects right off the bat. That will count the most for your day, and you'll get more time focusing on polishing that up rather than doing menial jobs that would take hours away from it. Entrepreneur writer Craig Cincotta from Entrepreneur explained, "Focus on what really matters. What really moves the needle for the business? Are you working on priorities that drive the overall goals of the business or are you just making noise? Really scrutinize your day and max it out every hour, minute and second to focus on the most important outputs." Prioritize!
4. Power Down
When you come back home, refuse to look at your email. Leave the laptop at the office. Leave everything work-related back at work. While at first that might seem impossible, you can always do it in steps, where you don't bring your phone to the couch twice a week instead of every time. Baby steps are totally okay. But the benefit of doing this can actually help you out in the long run, career wise. Cincotta offered, "When you unplug and step back you will start to experience one of life’s greatest treasures — perspective. You will think about problems you are wrestling with greater clarity. You allow yourself the freedom to be more analytical and less emotional when you step away and think vs. just diving in and responding in the moment." By not being constantly plugged into work, you can come back the next day refreshed and with new ideas and insights.
5. Figure Out How To Best Say No
A surefire way to not bring work home with you is to not put more than you can handle on your plate. When your inbox isn't overflowing with projects and tasks, then there shouldn't be an issue finishing everything on time, right? But what if you're bad at saying no? Well, you're going to have to practice until you get better.
Life coach Melanie Allen told The Guardian, "If you tend to say yes without thinking when you’re asked to do something extra, stall. Don’t answer straight away. Say you’ll get back to the person asking, then use that time to think clearly about whether to say yes or no. If you want to say yes, fine. But if you want to say no, say no and keep saying it. Don’t justify your actions or give excuses." It gets easier every time you do it, so start now!
6. Figure Out Your Own Definition Of Success
A lot of people blend the work-life line because they were taught that to be busy and constantly on top of work means to be successful. But who actually buys that? So to help you strike a better balance when it comes to bringing work home, take a moment and rehash what you value the most in your own life.
Allen advises, "The important thing is to ignore the shoulds — the shoulds that comes from other people or from you internalising others’ mindsets. You have to rely on your own intuition.” If you don't think you should bring that file home and it can get done later tomorrow morning, don't. If you think keeping your friendships strong, your partner happy, and your hobbies afloat is more important than getting a head-start on the next workday, then do that. You define your own success.
7. Focus On The Things You Can Only Do, First
Rather than being a semi-martyr and doing all the tasks that are floating around you and running out of time to finish it all, only focus on the things that only you can do. That way, the stuff that doesn't get done at the end of the day could be put on someone else's plate or simply finished up the next morning. For example, lifestyle writer Eric Barker from TIME pointed out, "If someone else can do the laundry at home, let them do it. If someone else can do the filing at work, let them do it." Focus on to-dos that are specific with your job position and expertise, and let the rest trickle down.
By keeping these tips in mind you can have a real shot at actual down-time and friend-time, and not lose your mind with the constant stress of the job. It's worth a shot!