5 Ways to Keep Work from Following You Home

By Chelsea Babin

Whether or not you have work/life balance improving benefits like flextime, telecommuting, or unlimited PTO it can sometimes be difficult to keep your work from following you home. While occasionally dedicating some of your personal time to your work is fine, doing it on a regular basis can lead to major burnout and job dissatisfaction. Make sure you don’t let work creep too far into your personal life with these 5 clever ways to keep work from following you home.

1. Actionable Unfinished Business List: Imagine that it’s the end of the day and you have a ton of unfulfilled work goals on your list. Rather than panic or letting thoughts of that unfinished work take over your down time, make an unfinished business list at the end of the day of all of the tasks you need to complete and the actionable steps you can take to get them done. This will take some of the stress off of your shoulders and keep your unfinished business from taking over your thoughts when you should be relaxing and making the most of your time off.

2. Turn Off Notifications: Most of us have access to our work email on our phones and, when a notification pops up, it can be difficult to ignore it even if it’s Saturday night and your thoughts are far away from work. A simple but incredibly effective solution for this is to turn off your email notifications. Let your coworkers know that, if there’s an emergency, they’ll need to contact you either by text or a phone call because you won’t be checking your work email every five seconds. Instead, you can check your work email only during work hours or when it suits your schedule in your free time rather than every time you get a new email.

3. Wind Down Task: Maybe your issue isn’t so much that you take your work home with you but, instead, that you have a hard time going home at the end of the day because you don’t have a designated wind down task. Wind down tasks are amazing because they’re something you can plan for at the beginning of the day, then set a timer to alert you for when it’s time to start that last task. It’s even better if you can make it the same or a similar task for each day because it will become familiar and signal the end of your day and help you wrap up and go home at a reasonable hour.

4. Vent in Written Form: When you’ve had a long day in the office filled with stressful situations it can be tempting to vent to your friends and family rather than using that time with them to rejuvenate and de-stress. Instead, keep a venting journal at home for times when you feel the need to vent. It will keep you from burdening others with your negativity and keep the negativity from taking over your evening, your weekend, or even your life. Keep in mind, once you write your vents down you might want to tear out the sheets you use and tear them up rather than keeping pages and pages of negativity around that you can go back and dwell on.

5. Set Boundaries Early On: The precedent you set with your bosses and coworkers early on will contribute to their expectations. If you start out as the person who is always on call, always burning the midnight oil, always working on week nights and weekends, you’re setting yourself up for a burnout. Instead, set clear boundaries early on and let it be known that you’re available for emergencies and willing to work on week nights and weekends only when necessary. You can go the extra mile within your normal work hours if you’re focused and productive, you don’t need to work 24/7 in order to impress. Remember, work smarter not harder has become a cliché for a reason.

With ever present technology and ever increasing workloads it can be difficult to avoid making a habit of letting your work follow you home. Use these 5 tactics to avoid burnout and keep your ideal work/life balance.