How to Disconnect from Work: 9 Ways

July 26, 2022
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How to Disconnect from Work: 9 Ways
Jacquelyn Wong
July 26, 2022

Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent increase in hybrid and remote work have blurred the lines between home and professional life. As the stress in our work lives increases, our mood regulation skills become less effective. When this happens, work stress can bleed into our home and personal lives.⁸

The rise of hybrid work has driven home the importance of discovering how to disconnect from work. A good work-life balance can benefit your work satisfaction and overall mental health.⁵ This article will further address how imperative disconnecting is for both individuals and businesses alike.

The Importance of Disconnecting from Work

Many employees struggle to disconnect from work because they want to prove their value to the company. These employees struggle with telling managers and co-workers “no.” They often feel they should be doing something productive during their downtime and don’t feel rejuvenated after a rest day.³

Employees in this category are often overworked and at risk of experiencing burnout. While taking a break and disconnecting from work may be difficult to do, rest is the best way to focus on your personal needs and reestablish a boundary between work responsibilities and personal life.³

Changing your mindset about downtime can help you let go of guilt, practice sustainable work habits, increase your motivation at work, and improve productivity.³ 

Here are nine tips to help you disconnect from work:

1. Make Time for Your Hobbies

Planning fun activities or challenges can help take your mind off work. Playing sports, knitting, hiking, reading, or learning something new can give you something to look forward to after work and may even improve your focus and creativity.⁵ Anything unrelated to work will help your brain get much-needed rest.

Many business professionals understand the importance of setting a routine after work that helps them transition from work mode to home mode. Take it from Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy.

He says, “Without a clear boundary between work life and home life, it can be difficult not to carry stress and worries from work over into what should be time dedicated to yourself and your family. What’s really worked for me is creating a ritual or routine once I’m off work that helps my brain switch gears. This could be as simple as playing a particular song while driving home, or doing fifteen minutes of yoga or meditation.”

2. Manage Your Screen Time

 A man in a gray shirt sitting on a couch and using a smartphone

Managing screen time is especially critical for anyone who uses a screen all day at work. To reduce the time you spend on electronic devices at home, try the following tips:

  • Avoid using devices late at night. Blue light may prevent you from falling asleep because it disrupts melatonin production, throwing off your circadian rhythm. Set an electronics curfew before bedtime to prepare for sleep.⁷
  • Create a tech-free area. For activities that don’t require electronics, leave your devices in another room so you aren’t tempted to check emails or reply to text messages.
  • Set a screen-time goal. Most smartphones and laptops have a feature that monitors your daily device time. Set a goal for how much time you think is appropriate and commit to staying below your screen time goal.

3. Create a Separate Workplace

As we mentioned above, it can be more difficult for employees who work from home to disconnect from their job after work hours. When remote employees spend their working hours cozying up on a couch in sweats and a hoodie, they can minimize the difference between their work self and home self, making it harder to separate their home self from their work self.⁴

The key is finding balance in your workspace at home. Act as though you’re going into the office by dressing professionally, sitting at a designated workspace (preferably a table or desk instead of a couch), and working consistent hours. Once you’ve met your hours for the day, turn off your email and text notifications and switch to your at-home self. These habits are critical for both your well-being and your work engagement.⁴

4. Invest in Your Mental Health

Think of your brain as a muscle that’s constantly being exercised. Good athletes understand that recovery is essential after a workout because it gives the body time to repair, rebuild, and strengthen itself.1

If you struggle with disconnecting from work, think of taking time off as recovery rather than rest. “Recovery” is a more purposeful term that can help remind you of the importance of downtime. Downtime is an essential investment in your health that can benefit your work productivity in the long run.³

5. Invest in Your Team

If you feel like disconnecting from work is selfish, you should know that taking breaks benefits others too. 

Co-workers are almost always observing each other and mimicking what they see. If you answer emails and work on small projects after your scheduled hours, team members may think that’s what it takes to be a good employee and follow your example. If you stop taking vacations, so will they.³

Help your teammates by showing through your example the importance of investing in one’s health. Managers and other leaders should set the expectations and norms for the team and hold discussions about work burnout and how to support mental and emotional health. Team members should consider how relentlessly pushing themselves can negatively affect other co-workers.

6. Focus on What You’ve Done, Not What You Need to Do

A woman sitting in an office with a laptop looking out the window

Many people feel guilty about disconnecting from work because they stress over the tasks that still need to be completed. Focusing on what you still need to do makes it almost impossible to relax.³

Instead, learn to celebrate your achievements. Think about everything you accomplished during the day and appreciate what you’ve done. Recognizing the work you’ve completed can help you find relief and enjoy your time off instead of stressing about upcoming projects.³

3 Tips for At-Home Employees to Disconnect from Work

Here are three additional tips for remote and hybrid employees:

  1. Give yourself a lunch break. Set a recurring time each day to log out of work and take some time to eat lunch. If possible, eat somewhere away from your workstation.
  2. Set a start and end time. Plan your schedule with specific work hours and hold yourself to a routine. 
  3. Take a walk in the morning before work. Spend ten minutes each morning walking outside as your “commute” to work. A short walk allows you to listen to a podcast, spend time outdoors, and get in the right headspace for work. Similarly, walking at the end of the day can help create a feeling of coming home after work.

Optimize Your Hybrid Workspace with OfficeTogether

Employee health and well-being should be one of the top concerns for every company. In today’s workplace, employees are more likely to leave their jobs if they feel employers are unfair.²

As more employees expect flexible work options, companies will need to adjust to maximize their office space for a hybrid work model. OfficeTogether is a hybrid office management system that helps employees reserve office space and collaborate with teammates. To learn more, click here.

Works Cited

  1. Ansorge, Rick. “Rest and recovery are critical for an athlete’s physiological and psychological well-being.” UCHealth, 7 February 2022, https://www.uchealth.org/today/rest-and-recovery-for-athletes-physiological-psychological-well-being/. Accessed 15 June 2022.
  2. CBRE. “The Next Normal.” CBRE, 16 August 2021, https://www.cbre.com/insights/reports/the-next-normal-how-hybrid-work-will-transform-commercial-real-estate#adoption-challenges. Accessed 13 June 2022.
  3. Forbes. “How To Disconnect From Work And Enjoy Your Downtime (Without Feeling Guilty).” Wikipedia, 22 June 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/melodywilding/2020/06/22/how-to-disconnect-from-work-and-enjoy-your-downtime-without-feeling-guilty/?sh=3ae07dd3d01c. Accessed 13 June 2022.
  4. Forbes. “Work-From-Home Burnout: Causes And Cures.” Forbes, 1 September 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2020/09/01/work-from-home-burnout-causes-and-cures/?sh=56a0a8f4b881. Accessed 14 June 2022.
  5. Indeed. “How To Disconnect From Work (Plus Why It's Important).” Indeed, 30 September 2021, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-disconnect-from-work. Accessed 13 June 2022.
  6. Insider. “How Managers Can Prevent Burnout on Their Teams at Work.” Business Insider, 6 July 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/how-managers-can-prevent-burnout-on-their-teams-at-work-2021-7. Accessed 13 June 2022.
  7. Suni, Eric. “Technology in the Bedroom.” Sleep Foundation, 18 April 2022, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/technology-in-the-bedroom. Accessed 14 June 2022.
  8. Yang, Allie, and Emily Nagoski. “How to disconnect from work while on vacation.” National Geographic, 14 December 2021, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/how-to-save-your-vacation-from-the-stress-of-work. Accessed 13 June 2022.
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