I have a fairly new-found yet tremendous commitment to disengage from work as much as possible over the weekend. I’ve never had the kind of job that begins and ends at a specific time, and is easy to leave at work. So I’ve had to learn how to make that happen for myself on my weekends. I’ve come up with my 5 ways to leave work at work so I can really disengage from it and enjoy my weekend without the work stress hanging over me.
When I was younger, I’d bring work home and work from home all weekend, or even go in to the office over the weekend. I think it’s important – especially when you are establishing yourself in your career – to work hard to get where you want. You have to prove yourself over and over, and that often means working long hours and sacrificing other parts of your life.
But now it’s more important to me to be with my kids when I can. It means I have to be more productive while I’m at work, because I’m not bringing it home with me over the weekend. Now don’t get me wrong – there are certain circumstances when it’s necessary to work on the weekend. But those times are now the exception, not the rule. I still work from home during the week, but my weekends are now my own.
Here are my 5 tips for leaving work at work so you can enjoy your weekend:
1. When leaving your workplace, imagine pushing all your work stress out through your feet as you walk away. Every step leaves a little bit of the worries behind. You can even picture specific projects and imagine them traveling through your body – out of your head and out your feet.
2. Develop a ritual when you get home that signals the final break. For me, it’s a glass of wine and talking through the day with Brian. Once I’ve caught him up on whatever was on my mind from work, he tells me all about what was going on with him and the kids that day, and that’s when I transition fully from work to home for the weekend.
3. Try to do something fun on your Friday night. For us, it could be going out to dinner, or being with friends, even just playing in the park. But doing something with people you love is a good way to kick-off the weekend and put you in the right frame of mind. Last night, we had a picnic at the beach on the Columbia. It was blissful!
4. Don’t check work email until Sunday evening. Obviously, if something is going on that requires your attention, you need to deal with it. But I know that everyone who needs me knows how to get a hold of me. Everything else can wait until the weekend is over. I do like to check on Sunday evening, because I like to be prepared for Monday. Sunday evening is when I start emerging from my weekend bliss to face the week ahead.
5. Be fully present at work as much as possible, and set realistic expectations about what you can and cannot accomplish. It takes some practice to do this, and to really get things done while you’re there. I used to have this thought it in the back of my head, “Well I can just do that over the weekend,” that in a sense allowed me to procrastinate or say “yes” to too many projects. Now I know that I have to be super present and productive at work all week so I can fully disengage during the weekend.
I don’t think I’ll ever have the kind of job that allows me to leave work at work during the week, but I’m glad I’ve found a way to disconnect and be fully present for my weekends with my family.
What do you think? Any other advice for being fully present in whatever task you are doing?