Schedule a daily recurring “end of day” ritual in your work calendar to make it easy to disconnect from work.

The Work From Home gig is such a boon for office workers. It’s an absolute gift for those of us slaving away in the corporate rat race.

No getting up super early.

No getting dressed up for work.

No soul-sucking commute.

No dealing with office noise.

For a lot of people, WFH is heaven because it provides the ability to focus on your work in the environment that you’re most comfortable in - your home.

You’ve got a little mini office set-up right there. With WiFi, your laptop and a headset, you can do pretty much everything that you’d normally do in the office with the exception of things like in-person socialization. And even that can be done via IM.

Aside from the occasional distractions from kids or pets, the home office gives you the perfect set-up to really get in the zone with work.

You’ll be multi-tasking all day long. It’s a combination of tackling all the emails, joining video conference calls, working on the Powerpoint deck, attending webinars, analyzing the numbers and stats, etc.

It’s non-stop for most of the day.

And on most days, you find yourself tapping away on the keyboard well into the evening - like up to and sometimes through dinner time.

On the surface, this may seem like something that employers and companies would love about WFH. They get more output from employees.

The reality is that this often leads to burnout.

Today, both employees and employers are slowly becoming more aware of this side effect of WFH and yet, nobody’s really doing much about it.

Why Unplugging Is Important For Your Health & Wellbeing

All living creatures go through a daily cycle of activity with alternating periods of rest. Take a look at any wildlife nature channel episode and you can clearly see this in action. There’s a natural balance and rhythm to it all.

Our ancestral cave-dwelling humans used to follow this cadence too. Then, with evolution and technology, this balance has gone out the window. In today’s modern tech-heavy world, we can work 24x7 from anywhere.

And because the internet is always “on” and there’s always more shit to take care of at work, it’s easy to just keep plugging away and neglecting ourselves.

And it’s this extended working and sitting time that create all sorts of mental and physical issues.

This study from the University of Queensland Australia is like many others that show how sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy, pure and simple.

Extended sedentary behavior (i.e. - sitting your ass all day long), can lead to greater cardiovascular risk, premature mortality, weight gain, increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, just to rattle off a few.

Furthermore, there’s also the whole excessive screen time thing. Digital eye strain is really a thing folks. You’ve probably experienced countless moments where upon looking up from your computer, your eyes were slow to focus.

And beyond the physical impacts, there’s also the mental side of things too.

Your brain is like a muscle and it needs to rest too. But, when we’re constantly grinding the gears in our heads, it results in excessive mental stress, leading to all sorts of other physiological aches and pains.

All of these issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

However, these things can all be minimized by simply shutting down, disconnecting from work, getting up from your chair and doing other kinds of activities.

The key here is that you need to unplug on time on a daily basis so that you have enough time to allow yourself to decompress, relax and chill out.

Leaving yourself only an hour or two of “off-the-clock” time isn’t enough. You need a solid three to four hours of “me-time” to de-stress from the day and do the things you really like doing while also leaving some solid hours for sleep.

10 Tips & Tricks To Disconnect From The Day

It’s not always easy to just stop working. Sometimes, it’s that one evening email or IM from your boss that pops up. Or, that late afternoon video call that spills into the evening. Or, the unending excel analysis.

And if you do shut-down the computer and physically step away from your desk for the night, your brain doesn’t always follow along. A lot of times, even though you’re not physically working, your mind is still fully occupied with work. It’s not letting go.

You need to physically and mentally unplug from work to give yourself the needed down-time to recover.

Here are ten ideas that you can try out.

1) Schedule A Daily “Wind-Down” Meeting

You have your WFH morning routine and ritual you go through at the start of every day. The process of waking up, grabbing a bit of breakfast, having some coffee and settling into work is pretty much on auto-pilot.

This morning process is what works for you and it allows you to ease into your workday.

This same fundamental idea should also be applied to the end of your workday too.

Set a meeting with yourself on the calendar, say a one-hour meeting from 4pm to 5pm or 5pm to 6pm. This will minimize the chances of others setting an end-of-day meeting or call with you.

Use the hour to tie-up any loose ends that need to get done for the day. These could be urgent quick replies, sending out updates, sharing files and documents, etc. It’s the last push to cross the finish line to take you into an easy evening routine.

As part of this final hour, you could also....

2) Celebrate Your Wins & Create Task List 

You go through and put up with a lot of bullshit during the day. However, despite that, you get a lot done and you probably don’t even realize it.

It’s time to change that with this end-of-day ritual.

At the end of the day, in your notepad or a sheet of paper, list five small things that you accomplished for the day. It can be as simple as scheduling a group meeting, sending that file, not falling asleep at your desk, finishing that Powerpoint, etc.

No matter how small or insignificant it is, write it down.

By celebrating small victories, you’re clearing out all the bad shit from the day and allowing your mind to focus on some good stuff and ending the day on a positive note.

Next, on that same piece of paper, write down five things you need to take care of tomorrow. The reason for doing this is so that your mind can let go of it. You don’t have to worry about forgetting those items.

Then, the next day, you can ease into work mode by starting with the easiest of the five tasks. This will get your momentum going and will help you get in the zone.

3) Set Recurring COB Appointment With Mother Nature

There are countless studies like this eight-year study that point to the fact that being outdoors in nature is a great way to offset daily stresses. It’s really no surprise that spending time with mother nature is a great way to decompress.

So, why not schedule a daily recurring meeting with her?

Block out an hour or two at the end of your day on your work calendar to head outside and go for a short stroll before dinner.

Wander around your neighborhood or local park and get some real-world greenery for a change. Walking in nature is a great way to reconnect with life and let the day’s bullshit just fade away while you meander through Mother Nature’s live show.

4) Set Boundaries By Declining Evening Meetings & Calls

There’s nothing worse than seeing a meeting invite for a video or conference call that starts at the end of your day. Whether it’s because of scheduling availability or time zone differences, there will inevitably be an evening meeting invite that lands in your inbox.
Now, of course, there will be those rare instances where it’s a very urgent meeting that must take place and that requires your direct input and/or feedback. Go ahead and join those.

However, for any meeting or call that doesn’t require your direct lead or heavy involvement, decline that shit and ask for the meeting minutes instead. You can then review the notes the next day to see if you need to follow up with anything.

Doing this will set clear boundaries so that work life stays with work and doesn’t spill over into your personal down-time.

5) Make Dinner Reservations At Your Fav Place

Got any foodies in your personal circle? If so, making dinner reservations with them at your fav food joint can be one of the best ways to ensure that you disconnect from work and leave all the nonsense behind for the day.

Nobody’s gonna pass on their fav restaurant to keep on doing work email.

Hunger is a primal instinct that can and will force you to get up from your desk and go hunt for food. Or in this case, save a spot at your local eatery.

The added bonus here is that if your dining buddy is also WFH and needs a reason to unplug, this can work for them too. You’ll be spreading the joy of disconnecting from the digital world.

6) Schedule An EOD Video Call With Your BFF 

Thanks to advancements in tech, you can have a video call with pretty much anyone on the planet with only a few mouse clicks or a couple of taps on your phone app.

It’s an instant digital face-to-face connection.

Chances are pretty good that your normal BFF or work BFF is also suffering from extended work days. So, why not help them so that they can help you? You can benefit each other with this arrangement.

Set-up an end-of-day video chat session to share the day’s horror stories, challenges, wins, fails, funny moments or simply just catch up on life.

A great way to get the conversation started is to...

7) Crack Open A Beer Or Pour A Glass Of Wine

The sound of a bottle of beer popping open or wine being poured into a glass is an incredible mental trigger that automatically relaxes your mind. It’s a signal to let go of work and all its baggage.

For the beer aficionados, store a couple of your favorite glass mugs in your freezer. When it’s time, pull out that iced mug and pour yourself a frosty one. It’s this little extra bit that makes the experience of downing a cold one that much more enjoyable.

And for those that prefer grapes over barley-n-hops, when wine o’clock rolls around, add to the relaxation by filling the room with some chillaxing tunes and have a platter of cured meats, cheeses and a baguette to nibble on while you sip away your stress.

8) Destress With Your Dog Or Cat

Guess who’s your unwavering WFH companion?

Yup, it’s that furry friend of yours that always wants to be by your side or in more intimate terms, with you on your numerous video calls. They are your valid and legit reason to disconnect from the day.

They put up with your lack of attention and affection during your email marathons, hour-long calls, glitchy video meetings, etc. It’s torture for them. All they want is to be loved.

Some pets, like this cat below, will even go to extreme lengths to convince your coworkers to never work with you again - ever.

(Credit: devofatherofchar via Reddit)

Your pet’s motivation is simply to get your love and attention. They deserve your hugs and kisses.

So, at the end of the day, commit to spending time with your four-legged cutie. After all, it’s been proven in tons of studies that pets reduce stress and provide a lot of positive benefits to overall well-being.

9) Start Cooking Up Dinner Or Order Take-Out 

Food is one of the greatest motivators around. Just take a look at what motivates your pets to see it in action. Shaking the snack bag, using the can opener, scooping the kibble, etc. all trigger frenetic excitement.

It’s no different for humans.

When we see our favorite foods, whether it’s online review photos or in the fridge, our mind immediately shifts its attention to eating. This is a very effective way to pull yourself away from work.

So, fire up the stove and start cookin’ up your fav eats or if you’re not a DIY cook, order some take-out or delivery of what you're craving. Either option is a great way to force yourself to unplug from work.

10) Log-Off & Shut Down All Connected Devices

This last tip is more of a precautionary measure to minimize the chances of relapsing back into work during the evening.

At the end of the day, save your in-progress work, close out the programs, logout from your accounts and shut down your work devices - computer and phone.

This way, there will be no off-hour notifications, alerts, dings, chimes, etc. to take you away from your personal down time.

Furthermore, because you’ve shut everything down, it adds “friction” to starting things back up again. And, this is exactly what you want to prevent yourself from hopping back into work.

End The Day & Relax Away!

In today’s fully tech-enabled world, it’s really easy for work to go on well past clock-out time and into your personal evening time.

And with WFH, there isn’t the ritual of commuting back home that helps to signify the end of the work day. So, you need to have some kind of trigger to replace this. Otherwise, the work will consume you.

Yes, there will be days where you need to push through the evening to meet an urgent deadline, but that’s the exception and it should not be the norm.

Your mind and body need balance to manage work stress. When you go to the extreme for too long, things get messed up. You’ll become less productive and more unhealthy mentally and physically.

It’s time to be more self-disciplined about shutting down at the end of the day.

When you’ve done all you can for the day, you gotta disconnect and give yourself some “me-time” to rest and recover. The work will always be waiting for you tomorrow. It can wait.

Feel Better,

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