Technology is great at keeping you connected to anything and everything in your life—except when it keeps you connected to the office. You can get in touch with your co-workers or access office files 24 hours a day, which can be detrimental to your social and family lives. Thankfully, there are some simple tips to help you untether yourself and make sure you’re turning off work mode when you’re not at work. Here are seven of them:
1. Don’t bring work home with you.
It sounds simple, but it’s often the hardest thing to do. Don’t bring home that file you didn’t get to at the office. You might think you’ll just glance over it, but in reality you’ll get sucked back into work mode while on family time. “One minute” turns into “I’m almost done!” and before you know it, your evening is shot. If you can’t tackle your entire workload at the office, let those remaining tasks roll over on tomorrow’s “To Do” list.
2. Say, “No,” to after hours work commitments.
If your boss comes by at 4:45pm and asks you to stay late, don’t be afraid to say, “No.” You might feel like you’re letting down the team or putting your job on the line, but even the sternest boss knows that your family comes first. Don’t be seen as a pushover, or you’ll never have any free time again! Likewise, don’t feel pressured to go out for drinks at quittin’ time, or show your face at a birthday party for a co-worker whose name you don’t remember.
3. Schedule activities for quitting time.
Is there a gym membership burning a hole in your wallet? Use it! Go at 5pm every day. This will help you keep your New Year’s resolution of getting in shape, as well as ensuring you leave the office on time every day. Clock out on time to be sure you get to the post office before it closes, or to buy your groceries before late in the evening.
4. Stay off of your computer.
Even if you enjoy spending your free time on the computer or surfing the web, it’s too easy to slip back into work mode once you find yourself sitting at a desk in front of a screen again. If you must get online after work hours, try to keep a list of things you need to look up or accomplish and stick to it. This will keep you from “accidentally” going back to work, but it will also prevent you from wasting your entire evening hopping from link to link.
5. Put down the cell phone and back away!
This is, without a doubt, going to be the hardest to accomplish. Your cell phone is your lifeline, with your phone contacts, calendar, To Do lists, and more. You might like to unwind at night by playing games on your phone, or exploring apps. However, your cell phone also has access to your email and work contacts. You might think you’ll just check to see if a reply has come through to your important email, or that you’ll call a co-worker just to chat. But it’s too easy to slip back into work mode this way. Try to put your phone away as soon as you get home from work, and forget about it until the next morning.
6. Find something you like to do.
If you know you’re going to have a lot of trouble staying away from your phone and computer, find a new hobby you’ll enjoy. Having something non-technological to do in your free time will make it easier to stay away from work. Or is there an old hobby you haven’t had time for lately? Do you miss knitting blankets for your nieces and nephews? Baking is a relaxing hobby that gives you gifts to share with others. Maybe you used to read several books a month—why not go by the library and pick up some new titles?
7. Spend more time with your family.
Last but certainly not least: spend time with your loved ones! All of these tips leave you free to do so. Leave work on time and get your errands out of the way. Step back from your phone and computer. Once you get home, be completely available to your family. Cook dinner together and then sit down at the table to share your days. Find a hobby adults and children can have fun with. Have family movie nights complete with popcorn and candy. Once you distance yourself from your work life, you’ll have countless ideas of activities to do with your family—and plenty of time to do it!