Tips to Leave ‘Work’ at Work

Image courtesy of Phil and Pam Gradwell's photostream

Image courtesy of Phil and Pam Gradwell’s photostream

It is 5:30 p.m. and you just got home, changed out of your work clothes, had dinner with your family and finally settled in on the couch to watch some TV and relax. But out of the corner of your eye you see your email icon blinking on your phone. You try and ignore it for a couple of minutes but then you start to get paranoid thinking you may get in trouble if you don’t respond, or it is something extremely important that may not be able to wait until tomorrow. It finally gets the better of you and you go and check it. But next time, do yourself a favor… and DON’T!

Are you ready to learn how you can regain your freedom? If you follow a few simple tips, you will reclaim your independence in no time!

Break up with your email – The most obvious step is to break the electronic communication that ties you to the office. Unless your company is actually paying you to be available 24/7, you’re allowed to turn off these company-issued devices such as beepers, cell phones, laptops or tablets. Deal with any work-related issues that may arise during your personal time when you’re back at work on company time. One quick peek at your work email after hours can turn into a disaster. All of a sudden, some little problem that could have been dealt with in the morning starts to hang over your evening and ruin it. But you do have a choice: Do you want to sit at your home computer, furious until everything is resolved, or do you want to go for that walk around the neighborhood with your spouse and enjoy the beautiful evening?

Learn when to say no, and when to say yes – It is critical to learn how to judge where a task ranks in terms of priority, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll start to get a better understanding of when it is go-time and when it’s time to go home and relax. If you are working on a huge deal or project and one of your coworkers comes up to you and hands you another project or needs your help, know how to handle the situation. If you can’t help or take the project on make sure to tell them that. Don’t feel bad and do it because you are a nice person. Make sure you focus on your projects and if you are having a slow day and nothing is due immediately, then you can lend a hand.

Time management You need to focus on your time management techniques. Mostly everyone, no matter how hard-working they are, could make improvements when it comes to saving time. Whether it’s a cluttered desk and an overfilled mail box (email and paper), or an assortment of sticky notes, if you reorganize your system, you will save time and be able to fit more work in your 40-hour work week instead of taking it home. If you’ve tried everything and you’re still overwhelmed, you may want to meet with your boss and evaluate your workload and consider dialing it back if it is truly too much. Don’t worry about communicating this with your boss; just explain that you are spending too much time at home keeping up with your workload.

Plan your days in advance – If you are planning on having the time to plan your day at the start of it, it is a bad idea – at that point you are already in deep with the tasks that were on your desk first thing. Instead, save some time toward the end of the day to plan for the next day. It will not only keep you on track for the day, but you will have a better understanding of your workload and whether you are in a position to step up to any additional projects, or stay focused on what is already on your plate.

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