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How to Leave Work at Work

As individuals, we need a mental break to do our best work. Taking time for ourselves — without the distraction of work — can help us become our best selves. Some jobs have very clear lines between when you’re “on” and when you’re “off,” while in others the lines are blurred — or potentially nonexistent. That makes not being distracted by work, especially mentally, a major challenge.

The following four steps can help you see how much you can leave your work at home:

Step 1 : Define 'After Hours' - Think through how many hours you want for activities like sleep, exercise, family, friends, cleaning, finances, etc. Then see how much time you need to reserve on a daily and weekly basis to fit in those personal priorities. That then defines the parameters of when you want to be “off hours.”

Step 2 : Have Mental Clarity - Make sure you have mental clarity on what needs to get done and when you will complete it. This includes having a place where you write down the many tasks that you need to do. Then, plan out your work. And finally, have an end-of-workday wrap-up.

Step 3 : Communicate with your Colleagues - Set some guidelines to control how people reach you, thereby reducing unwanted interruptions.

Step 4 : Get Work done at Work - If you want to stop feeling distracted by work after hours, you need to actually do your work during the day. And if you must (or want to) do some work outside of your standard day, make sure that you timebox it. For example, I will work from 8-9 pm tonight then stop. Or, I’ll put in three hours on Saturday from 1-4 pm, but then I won’t think about work before or after. It’s much better to designate a time and stick with it than it is to think about work all night or all weekend and do nothing.

To read the full HBR article, please click here.

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