This post was selected for inclusion in our Future of Art and Work series in December 2016. The series, sponsored by Microsoft Surface, selects some of our best posts exploring the topics of how art and work will look in the 21st century. This post was originally published in July, 2016.
Life would just be too easy if Friday at 6 (or 5 or 4) p.m. meant that all of your work for the week was done and you could set off to enjoy the weekend or days off without thinking about anything except happy hour spots and brunch plans.
Those involuntary reminders of tasks to be done pop up in our head long after we leave the office, and we feel compelled to do something about them. It’s called responsibility. It’s not an easy practice to avoid work distractions during our time off, but it is an important one.
Disconnecting from the hustle and bustle, and even taking breaks from technology, do a lot to both physically and mentally reset us. Staying tied to our devices, especially when they’re work-related, can lead to sleep problems, stress management issues, increased anxiety, even depression and more severe disorders. Plus, when we arrive back to the daily grind without a proper break, the quality of our work may suffer.
It is as important for our mental health as it is for our relationships and jobs to master the art of truly stepping out of office. Try some of the following tips to help smooth the transition from work to weekend much more mindfully.
Leave Your Workspace Organized
Alongside the excitement of the end of the day and start to the weekend is the looming deadline to wrap up the week’s work. Realistically, there is rarely a clean break at the end of any given Friday, where all projects and tasks have been completed and a clean slate can be left for the coming week. But that’s not to say we can’t have a little closure when leaving the office.
As the end of the day is approaching, start to prioritize the leftover tasks. Physically organize the workspace so it is extremely clear and straightforward what needs to be completed on Monday morning. Leaving a clean and efficiently arranged workspace will offer the right amount of closure for the days off where any uncompleted tasks and to-do list items are acknowledged and left waiting in a neat line, so you can feel confident that they won’t be forgotten.
Practice Post-Work Meditation
It is always a calming practice to sit silently, close your eyes and take in a few breaths. This can be done almost anywhere: at your desk before you leave work; in the elevator; on the commute home; or outside of your door before entering your home. Even 30 seconds will be enough to provide a little refresh and mark the end of one part of the day and beginning of another.
Don’t Bring Work Home—Literally
Having tasks in mind is one thing, but keeping a tangible pile of work in your living space is going too far. The likelihood of completing said work is already minimal when faced with much more exciting plans or personal errands. Plus, it robs you of a much-needed break from the work mindset.
It also helps if you set time boundaries for responding to work emails or even texts from co-workers relating to work. Being too available for work when you’re off of work means you’re less available to actually enjoy it.
Set Aside Time for Happiness
After a long day of working hard, it’s important to take time to do something that brings you joy and sends your body the signal that you are officially off-duty. This could mean heading straight to the gym or a class to sweat for an hour; playing with a pet; cooking an amazing dinner; or listening to great music loudly while getting ready to go out. Whatever it is, it’s important and you deserve it!