Over the past couple months, most of us have felt the challenge of separating work from the rest of our life. It’s so easy to lose sight of our best intentions – absently snacking, answering zoom calls, eating dinner over our computer, until we look up from our laptops and see that it’s 11pm and we wonder what happened to the evening (or is it just me?) While that doesn’t happen so often these days for me (there’s nothing like the needs of a baby to pull you into the moment), I still find myself in need of a work/life balance brush-up. And while putting in some after-hours work is sometimes necessary, I’ve found that creating some structure and order into my day is an absolute must.
Part of that has been being sure I’m integrating refreshing breaks into my work day, but the other piece of the puzzle is making sure I’m intentional about closing out the day with a post-work ritual.
A routine is important because it cues the body, allows for smooth transitions, and leaves you feeling more settled and organized. A post work ritual reminds you that it’s time to turn off your work brain and move into a space that’s better able to relax and engage in your relationships, health, hobbies and personal goals. It almost becomes second nature!
My post-work ritual involves closing my laptop and tucking it away on my desk, referencing my to-do list to check in with what I got done and what I need to accomplish tomorrow (or maybe what I need to come back to later that evening), and turning on a fun happy playlist. Whatever yours is, it doesn’t have to be complicated or long – just something to give yourself a little reset. Read on for a few simple but effective après-work routines and ideas to try out for yourself.
Put away your work goods.
Whether you work from home or have a commute, tuck your laptop away in the same spot every day, rinse your lunch dish, put your shoes away etc. as a way to cue in your brain that work time is done. Plus, you’ll be able to come back to a tidy spot the next day and have a clean slate.
Tick off your to-do list.
Cross out your accomplishments and write what you need to prioritize the next day. If you’re coming to the end of your workday and thinking “what did I even get done today?” I’ve been there. Take a moment to actually take note of all the things you did, cross them off your list, reorganize and re-strategize for the next day. Sometimes the best way to close off the day is to write a to-do list for tomorrow. Knowing we’re starting off tomorrow focused can be a game-changer.
Put your phone on airplane mode. After staring at a screen all day, your eyes and brain could use a break.
From my days in the corporate marketing world, you didn’t have to tell me twice to change out of my blazer and heels when I got home. It is a little trickier when you work from home, though. Still, just like wearing something other than pajamas really sets your mind to be ready to work, changing into something more loungy cues your brain in that work time is over.
Turn up the tunes.
Have a certain song you play every day. It doesn’t have to be Closing Time to cue your brain in that work time is done. Turn on something chill or playful and set the mood for the evening!
Stretch it out.
Especially if you sit at a desk all day, stretching out your muscles can release the tension you’ve been storing up. I love Yoga With Adriene a quick ten minute sesh to stretch out my body.
Take a walk.
Get outside and spend a min connecting to nature. Listen to podcast, or just listen to the birds. Physical activity is a great way to de-stress and reconnect to your body, especially if you’ve been in your “head” all day or staring at a computer screen.
Do something (anything) mindfully.
Brush your teeth, take a few breaths, make a cup of tea mindfully – bring your whole awareness to the task. Concentrate on the actions associated with it and tune into your senses. Mindfulness helps to pull you out of autopilot, increasing focus and slowing your mind down.
Have some non-work talk.
Other than a quick how-was-work and filling each other in (unless something crazy happened), my husband and I usually try to chat about topics like dinner plans, our next move for home projects or something cute our baby did that day. If you don’t live with someone, call or text a friend or relative for a quick chat!