5 tips for actually shutting down after work

I always thought I would love working from home, but after 6 months of it, full-time, I am struggling. I find switching off from work difficult at the best of times but when spending most of my time in one room (my office-living-dining room) I have found the office is becoming dominant, and work is taking over my evenings with ‘just one more email’ or ‘just finishing off this document.’

Although I used to find my morning commute on the jam-packed Victoria line hell, the evening journey home I actually enjoyed. I would walk a slightly longer way back to the tube station to stretch my legs and then get my head into a book while on the train. By the time I was home I generally felt I had washed away the workday and was re-energised.

I have now developed a system that works for while working from home and wanted to share a few tricks I have put in place in the hope they help you too. The aim being to create that much needed space between work and life, even though the physical space is pretty much the same.

 

Set an alarm

It might sound basic, but the purpose of an alarm is to take the responsibility off of yourself to do something and hand it over to an outside source. You have a morning alarm set everyday to wake you up, why not one in the evening to notify you it is time to stop. My workday finishes at 6pm so I set one alarm for 5.30pm, as a reminder to start checking off anything urgent and one again at 6pm to totally shut down my laptop. It goes without saying some days I hit snooze a few million times, but the habit of having it there means the majority of the time I stick to it.

 

Write down tomorrow morning’s actions

This doesn’t mean your full blown to do list – that might work for you but it doesn’t for me. I just jot down a few notes of the two things I have to start with the next morning to get them out of my head and to trust that I won’t worry about them that evening. Again, using an outside tool to hold that responsibility of remembering them to give your head some space. Something I have learnt recently and have to constantly remind myself is that work will never be ‘done’, my inbox will never be completely empty and the project will never be ‘perfect’. You have to trust yourself to stop and pick it up again the next day, or stop, because perfect is unachievable and it is as good as it can be.

 

Schedule an activity in your diary

I am recovering from a shoulder injury and have exercises from my physio that I must do daily – boring but necessary! I now get them over and done with straight after work, they are scheduled in my diary everyday for 6.10pm just like any other work meeting. And I show up, just like I do to my work meetings.

Think about something you do/would like to do daily. Can it be done straight after work? Maybe it is a 20min yoga video, 10min meditation practise, calling up your mum for a quick chat. As long as it happens daily, schedule it now! It must be something that takes you away from your work space and screen.

 

Change something physically

Wash your make up off? Change your outfit? Have a shower? Blast a Whitney Houston song really loud and do a little ‘end of work dance’? A small physical act like this will literally shed off the workday.

I tend to change my outfit, sometimes from one pair of comfy leggings to another even comfier pair but occasionally I will put on a fancy evening top and some bright lipstick – just because!

 

Take your CBD

Most advice for taking CBD is to take a small amount both morning and evening. I agree this is a perfect place to start. For me however, with some experimenting, I have found the best time for me is between work and play. It helps my mind slow down, my body relax and is a tiny act of self-care that puts a marker in the ground for me to remind me to switch off. It also means I can’t talk for 2 minutes while the oil sits under my tongue which is helpful and much needed quiet time for me!