by Michael Godfrey, founder and president of True Course and author of “Put Stress to Work: Turning Headaches into Advantages“
Ever have a hard time changing channels from thinking about work to focus on leisure and family? Changing the focus of your attention from work to other important things can be challenging, especially when you own your business or you have a high level of leadership responsibility at your work. And, if your office is in your home, changing focus is an even bigger challenge.
Leaving work at work requires finding a place for your thoughts and diverting your attention from work to the people and experiences of the present moment (including sleep).
Here are several actionable tips that will put you in control of your time and your life again:
Create a ritual for closing the work day. Set aside 20 minutes and…
- Reflect on what you have accomplished that day. Celebrate it, pat yourself on the back, and speak an encouraging word to yourself (yes, out loud if you want).
- Make a list of all those things still needing your attention, along with related notes, and leave the note pad in the center of your desk at work. Everything you leave on your desk will be there for you the next morning.
- Set a time for leaving the office every day. As a part of your ritual, honor this time religiously. Schedule a standing appointment with yourself to work out, go to your favorite “chill space,” or meet someone immediately after leaving on time.
- Ceremoniously close the door to your office as a signal to yourself that work is in there and you have closed the door on it for now.
- Give up the phone furnished by your work unless you are on 24-hour call. Otherwise, you are expected to answer calls and texts at all hours. Work owns you. Don’t let it.
- Put your phone in a drawer from the time you get home from work until you leave for work again.
- Leave your work computer at work.
- Stay away from the computer at home. If you don’t, you may find yourself working again.
Manage Stray Thoughts.
- Build a habit of recording stray thoughts and forgetting them for the present. When you’re not at work and a work item pops in your head (and it will), your mind will keep giving attention to it in order to remember it unless you write it down or audio record it.
- Create a “Strays” file for your stray thoughts. You can use the voice recorder or a task list on your phone if that works better for you. Keep a daily to-do item like “Check Strays.”
- Fill your attention with something you enjoy. Family, movies, hobbies, etc. In times of leisure, work thoughts love to fill the inattentive, unfocused mind.
When you are tempted to give attention to work while at leisure or in the middle of the night, remember that you left that all on your desk and you will pick it up in the morning. It will be right there waiting for you. Leave work at work. You’ll rest better which will set you up to be more, see more, and achieve more.
Michael Godfrey, Ph.D., D.Min, PCC, is the founder and president of True Course, which specializes in mentoring, coaching, training, and consulting services for businesses and churches. Dr. Godfrey is the designer of a nationally recognized, award-winning mentoring approach and numerous training programs. Dr. Godfrey taught practical theology, adult education, leadership and conflict management at the university level for twelve years. He is the author of “Put Stress to Work: Turning Headaches into Advantages“.