Monday, April 02, 2012

Leaving work behind

A skill that everyone needs to achieve successful work-life balance is to be able to fully switch off your mind from work when enjoying your hard earned family and leisure time. Having work issues and ideas play through your mind in the evenings and weekends is a common experience for many executives, so why does it happen and how can a person learn to mentally close the door on work when they leave the office?
The reason it happens is that our emotions like completions. Unfinished or unresolved business, strategic issues, business uncertainties and open issues by their very nature don’t complete in a day – and can create a symptom of overrun where a person finds it harder to switch-off.
Interestingly surveys report that amongst the most stress free professions are those where there is a definite opening and closing to a day’s work – like a machine tool engineer who sets up the machine to begin and closes down and cleans it at the end of the day. 
Good time- and self-management practices can emulate this closing-off process. Taking the time each day or week to note what you have achieved and completed not only gives a psychological boost, it also gives the satisfaction of completion that our emotional life needs. For open issues making a note of any progress and telling yourself you don’t need to think about them again until you return to work is also a vital self-training. Another practice that works well for many is to finish the week with an empty email inbox. You may have longer-term issues of course, but an empty inbox has a definite satisfaction. 
And lastly, for those that work at home – try not to leave work related papers and files out around the house or home office – every time you see them it will remind you of something!

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