I adore my job and I love working hard, which sometimes means putting in extra hours, but one of the texts I dread sending to my husband is the “I’m working late tonight” text. And yes, text is usually the communication of choice as pausing to talk would inevitably lead to me being at work even longer. Recently, I broke a personal record: leaving work at 1 a.m. When I finally laid down that night, mind swirling, I wondered how on earth I was supposed to turn that 16-hour day off and fall blissfully to sleep. In this case, I was actually grateful that it was late enough that my husband was asleep when I got home. Far too often, there are nights where I’m sitting on the couch next to him trying to enjoy our time together but my mind is somewhere else.
This is not a new or unique problem, but I love finding new ways to tackle the age-old question: how can I leave work at work? Here are four attempts that may not be hugely innovative but I have found to be effective.
1. ####Daily Pick-Up
A colleague here at Intrinzic has 4:30-5:30 blocked off on our company calendar every day for “daily wrap-up.” What I once considered a clever attempt at not having meetings scheduled at the end of the day, I now realize is a great way to physically and mentally cleanse the palette. I’ve learned that organizing both my desk and my computer desktop at the end of the day brings me a sense of calm and organizes my thoughts, which helps minimize swirl when I’m at home.
2. ####Do something that makes you smile
It could be watching your favorite sitcom, listening to a comedian or talking with a friend that makes you laugh. For me, a little dose of Jimmy Fallon’s lip sync battle does the trick.
3. ####Cook up something delicious
Cooking has numerous therapeutic benefits. It is a creative outlet; it stimulates all of your senses and clears your mind. When you are trying to follow a recipe, you can’t be bothered with thoughts of what you left undone at the office. And at the end of a workday when you feel like you didn’t get anything accomplished, you can cook up a quick one-pot meal and have instant gratification from that one part of your day. As Amy Adams so eloquently put it in the movie Julie and Julia, “I love that after a day when nothing is sure…you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.”
4. ####Acknowledge at least one positive thing about your day
Even on the most rotten days I can usually find at least one thing that went well, even if it’s something as trivial as getting out of the parking garage in record time. Research led by the University of Minnesota finds that noting the best parts of your day (at the end of your day) helps to reduce your stress levels.
How do you unplug? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter via @IntrinzicSays.