How to stop thinking about work all the time? What to do if thoughts of new projects and work haunt evenings, weekends, and vacations
The most radical way is to learn not to perceive problems or difficulties at work too emotionally and close to your heart. This will not only help you to switch gears faster and relax after work, but will also make it easier to solve some problems. And you can also try to look at the problem from the outside: they say that it is always easier to solve someone else’s problem than your own, because it is easier to look at someone else’s problem soberly and without emotion.
A more practical example. If the brain is depressed about some work problem or conflict, it’s best not to leave it hanging before an upcoming vacation. Otherwise, the evening, weekend, or vacation may fly by in constant mind games, meaningless mental torment, and rest as such may not happen at all. It helps me before the end of work to plan for the next working days specific activities, cases, meetings that should help to solve the problem. It is possible to outline with colleagues ways of solving it and put it all on the calendar. This noticeably calms the brain, as it switches to the mode of waiting for the problem to be solved. I also find it very helpful, for example, to go to the theater on a Friday night to see a good play. It tends to leave little chance for thoughts of work, and they go away for a while.
Here are some simple tips that I recommend you follow to get a proper rest:
Leave work at work. Minutes to 15 minutes before the end of the work day, think carefully about your work plan for the next day, make it on paper or in a special program and leave it at work. Don’t carry your thoughts about tomorrow’s work processes home or to a meeting with friends. They want to see and hear from you as a loved one.
Choose the type of vacation that is right for you. It is recommended to rest on the principle opposite to your main employment: if you work passively, sitting at the computer all day, then to the best result will lead you to active rest and movement. It too must be well planned, otherwise the free time will fly by, and the feeling of renewal will not come.
When you go on vacation for a couple of weeks, be sure to turn off the phone, do not check your work email. Of course, you can leave your colleagues a contact number in case of emergency, but make it clear in what situation is acceptable to bother you. No thoughts of work! Say “no” to correspondence with partners and follow-up calls to subordinates. Otherwise you will not be able to have a proper rest, nor to work effectively after leaving your vacation.
When I turned 30, I made a promise to myself that Saturday was an untouchable day. I shut off my phone, unlogged from all mail, and disappeared to the outside world. If I absolutely have to do something for work, I leave the task for Sunday evening – it psychologically helps me immerse myself in the weekend and distract myself from resting on the border of the weekend and Monday.
It’s even easier with vacations: I tell coworkers and management right away that I don’t plan to be remotely involved in office life, and I try to follow my own set-up. A good solution is to remove all messengers from your phone for the duration of the vacation, or at least turn off notifications. While at a resort, I generally try to leave my phone in my hotel room whenever possible, checking messages once a day. A local SIM card can completely save me from possible contact with work, but I still leave my Russian number on in case of emergencies.
Another important rule, developed over the years, is not to take work home with you. It is better to stay up late, but come home with a clear head and devote at least a couple of hours exclusively to personal time.
However, all of these rules should not be taken to an extreme. It may always be necessary to involve the employee in the work process, so it would be foolish to categorically refuse to help – it is unlikely that such behavior will benefit the career. However, in my opinion, it is necessary to draw a line, however tentative, between the office and recreation. The impossibility of such a distinction is one of the reasons why I am not very interested in working from home.
To switch from thinking about work, it is not enough to turn on your favorite soap opera: you will not be able to fully relax anyway. In my experience I can say that lazy relaxation, unfortunately, does not allow you to completely switch off. You look at the monitor, but in your head you are still replaying work situations – a new project, a change of management, a conflict with a colleague, and so on. As a result, the stress only accumulates.
In my opinion, to get work stuff out of your head, you need a new hobby. A real one, one that is really exciting. For many people sports are such a hobby. For a long time I used to go to yoga to relax after work. One day I got my schedule mixed up and went to kickboxing. And it became a new and very important part of my life. When I’m in the ring, I completely switch – it’s just an incredible release and the best stress reliever.
Of course, you don’t have to go boxing: you can find a lot of interesting things in Moscow now – sommelier courses, barista lessons, unusual city tours. You can be carried away by completely unexpected things!
I would also advise you not to let work into your personal life. Some people, after reading advice on personal efficiency, try to work non-stop: answering emails at breakfast and falling asleep with the phone in their hands. I think this is overkill. I don’t take my work laptop home with me, and I don’t answer emails when I’m with my family. I advise you to do the same.
After work and on weekends the phone is put on silent mode. You only call back if you have time. In fact, one day, when I was forced to take a weekend job, my seven-year-old son came up to me and asked why I couldn’t go out with him. From my rambling ramblings about making money and stuff, he drew a clear and precise conclusion: “You don’t love me!” My son went to his room. I sat at the table and realized that my seven-year-old son was absolutely right. Now if I do work on the weekends, it’s exclusively in the evening or at night. The rest of the time is for family.