Switch off: working late
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7 easy tips to make you switch off after work

20 Mar 2017

How hard is it for you to switch off from work? We all need proper work-life balance, but are you standing in your own way?

If we’re lucky, we’ll spend a third of our life working. Many people will clock even more work hours between overtime, skipped lunches and answering emails after hours.

Many employees may feel compelled to put in 110pc to impress their employers, while others might feel their company culture encourages working outside of office hours.

It’s true that real company culture is instilled from the top down and employers should be conscious of that when they send emails or messages outside of work hours.

However, are you bringing some of the overtime on yourself and throwing off your work-life balance?

If you feel like you’re working beyond office hours most days, are thinking about work at the weekend and are dreaming about it at night, it might be time to take some of the power back.

Here are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of work you inadvertently bring home.

Don’t add work to your phone

You might not feel like this is possible, but you’re sure to have enough forms of contact with your colleagues that you don’t need everything on your phone.

Consider leaving work emails off your phone. How often do you justifiably receive emails outside office hours that require urgent attention? If you’re waiting for an email, you can always log in, but you don’t need to get constant work emails that can wait until tomorrow.

Turn off push notifications

If you absolutely can’t say goodbye to your Slack app or your emails, a good way to switch off is to turn off push notifications for your work apps.

That way you can check them at your own times, with a view to weaning yourself off doing so too often. However, if you find yourself checking it more often than if you had notifications, you might need a different strategy.

Turn on ‘do not disturb’

Similar to your push notifications, this is for all notifications on your phone, which is particularly helpful if you have an exclusive work phone.

You can decide what breaks into your ‘do not disturb’ so you don’t miss important phone calls, but it can block notifications for texts, apps and emails.

Ignore phone calls outside office hours

Whether you’re still at your desk beyond office hours or your work phone rings after 6pm, if you’re not expected to work beyond your office hours, don’t feel obligated to pick up the phone.

Just because you’re at your desk early or are working late, it doesn’t mean you have to pick up the phone. Officially, your work day has ended. The person calling can leave a message or you can return the call in the morning.

Minimise work chat at home

Outside of reducing your work notifications pulling at your attention, there are other things you can do to switch off and become more present at home.

It can be helpful to vent a little when you get home, and it’s natural to talk about how your day was over dinner, but check how much discussing work brings you down or makes you feel stressed.

If you’ve had a very stressful day, you don’t necessarily want to relive that and bring the negative energy home. Limit work chat at home to keep it separate and help you switch off.

Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a powerful thing, and it can help you de-stress in the middle of work as well as switch off after work.

Mindfulness is all about being present. The easiest way to do it is to sit still for a few minutes, focus on your breathing, and be aware of the sounds and feelings around you.

Practising mindfulness can be particularly helpful on the commute home to switch off work mode.

Develop an evening ritual

If mindfulness isn’t enough to switch off after work, take the time to do something else, whether it’s a new class or hobby, an evening run or just a new at-home ritual.

Everyone feels like they couldn’t possibly fit any more into their day, but the truth is, if you really want to, you’ll find the time.

Giving yourself a relatively strict ritual in the evening or taking up a new hobby will entice you to leave the office on time more often, while the hobby itself will take your brain out of work mode.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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