How To Leave Work At Work By Adding This Simple Routine To The End Of Your Workday
Marcus Clarke is the author of psysci.co a psychology blog that examines the latest research and explains findings in simple terms.
Working 9 to 5 might not have been Dolly Partons cup of tea but for many of us its reality. But with today’s work stressors failing to leave work at work come 5 pm is a common problem. Psychologically detaching from work at the end of the day is an occasional problem for an estimated 72% of people, and a common problem for around 33% of people.
As work burden seemingly ever increases and occupational health awareness increases, detaching from work at the end of the day is an important component in ensuring employee well-being as well as work performance.
Deep down we all know that psychologically and physically detaching from work makes us feel happier and is just the right thing to do but this has also been backed up by science that has shown detaching from work when finished not only improves occupational health but also improves our work performance. It has also been shown that over-commitment to work can lead to diminished participation at home, which for obvious reasons leads to conflict at home.
So what can be done to help you stop thinking about work when you’ve clocked off?
Research has shown that having a simple end-of-day plan is the best way to minimize work attachment. New research specifically advises developing a plan at the end of every workday that considers the following:
- Where unfulfilled work tasks will be completed – if the task needs a lot of concentration would is a busy office the best place to complete the task or would a morning working at home get the task completed better?
- When the task will be completed – Complete small frustrating jobs first thing, as soon as they come in if possible. Break larger on-going jobs down into manageable portions but schedule time in each day to work on them.
- How the task will be completed – Is it a simple job that will be completed alone or will a meeting be needed? Think about the best way to complete the job most effectively, will a conference call suffice instead of a lengthy day traveling? If you’re not the right person for the job then delegate it or consider outsourcing.
While end-of-day planning focusing on smaller, realistic goals setting is the key to ensuring psychological detachment. Setting realistic goals is also known to be an important component of general day to day work planning; committing to too much will likely result in an incomplete goals at the end of the day and, consequently, less detachment.
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Overestimate your workload to give yourself extra time and less stress
Its been known for a long time that people are extremely poor at estimating how long tasks take to complete, this underestimation increases work pressure by setting unattainable goals, knowing this planning fallacy is an extremely useful tool as we can then purposefully under-commit and over-perform – giving us a little feel good boost instead of disappointment that a task hasn’t been completed.
Much like the general business rule of under-promising and over delivering, purposefully overestimating the time it will take to complete a task will leave everybody involved in the employer-employee transaction feeling like they’ve received value for money and ultimately helping you to detach from work.
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