How to Stop Obsessing about Work at Night

I've been asked many times by clients, "How do you shut everything off at night?", "Even when I'm not at work, I'm at work!".

We've all been there...where we can't turn our brain off or just can't stop thinking about work. This is common when we get busy, particularly if there's something special going on or a particularly busy season (think tax season for an accountant). But when it persists and we find we can rarely turn our minds away from work, even on 'regular' days, it's not healthy and can impact not only other areas of our life, but work itself. 

Being able to have boundaries with your work life and personal life is important, particularly if you want to have some balance with other things outside of work. Even if you love your job, everyone needs a break and you can actually be more productive and have more creative ideas when you allow your brain to shift into other ways of thinking and put your attention to other things. 

There are three things I most often recommend that supports us in being able to leave work - 'at work':

1) Create your To-do list for the next day BEFORE leaving work

Taking a few minutes at the end of your day - whether it ends at 5 or at 10pm - to create your to-do list and prioritize the following day can make a world of difference at being able to sign off for the day and signalling to your brain that you have everything captured. Use this time to capture EVERYTHING in your brain down on paper. Even if you have to write down some of your concerns eg. I'm concerned this project won't be done on time if I don't receive the data on time from....

Capture it all down. You know you've got it all, when you can't think of anything else to add to your to-do list.

If something pops into your mind later, something you forgot to add, pull out your list and write it down or send yourself a note you'll be sure to see in the morning. You have to know everything is captured.

This way your brain will stop holding onto the information. It will let it go knowing it's been captured in a reliable way and you'll see everything the next day. When you don't write these things down your mind will hold onto everything as a way to making sure you don't forget.

2) Create something Compelling to do with your time after hours

By having something that draws you in - something fun and perhaps meaningful to you to do - you'll naturally want to move into that time. You know that work is important, but this activity or task is also important you as well. Maybe it's quality time with your Kids, a hobby or something active. Knowing that you are doing something just as important or even more so than your work, can help re-direct your energy and enthusiasm to move on from your day.

Maybe now is a great time to cultivate a hobby you've been putting off or try to learn something new. Take a class. Create other interesting things in your life that gives you a reason to leave work AT work.

3) Be present in the moment

I feel like I would be remiss if this didn't make an appearance in this post. By following the top two suggestions, you will be well set up to let things go and immerse yourself in what you are doing after hours. Whether that's hanging at home, spending time with your spouse, kids, exercising, cleaning your house (I have clients that enjoy getting lost in this mindless activity!), etc. Paying attention to what you are doing in THAT moment and giving it ALL of your attention (and using all of your senses) will help you to enjoy and appreciate what you are doing, and will support you in turning your focus away from work. If you feel work thoughts creep in - and they likely will! - simply turn back to what you are doing. Practice doing this more and more and you'll find this will come easier for you if it's something you struggle with.

I hope this supports you in turning down your work mind and support you in transitioning into enjoying other aspects of your life. 

It's a journey and it takes practice - but your health, well-being and productivity is worth it. Don't give up if you try these things once and you don't see a difference. Keep at it. You are developing new habits and that can take time.

YOU are worth it!

NOW is YOUR time.


PS - To explore these ideas, or others, for yourself, I invite you to a Career/Business Exploration session where you'll leave knowing your next best step to get to where you want to be in your Career or Business. Click here to schedule a time.