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Techniques for switching off

#1 User is offline   Mezla PigDog 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 12:41 PM

Is anyone particularly good at only working their contracted work hours and then switching off the stresses of work out of hours? And if so, do you have any habits that you think help you to cultivate this mindset?

It's a semi NY resolution of mine but I don't think I have the appropriate skills to succeed, especially whilst full time working from home. I know it makes sense but I know I'll get sucked in because I always do.
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#2 User is online   Aptorian 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 01:42 PM

Have a dedicated work phone and work computer. Turn them off at a specified time every day. Put them in a locked cabinet or the freezer if you have to. Create an automatic message letting people know you're away and will answer your phone/computer again between 09.00-16.00 or what ever hellish hours you work.

I should add that I don't do this. I feel stressed if I'm not reachable, because I'm certain my work place burns down if my phone is turned off. Also half my colleagues are children who cannot be left unsupervised or they'll probably stab themselves with scissors.

This post has been edited by Aptorian: 06 January 2022 - 01:44 PM

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#3 User is online   Tiste Simeon 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 01:56 PM

I carry my workload in my head and worry about things I should have done. Don't really have a solution to it, but I find I can quash the worries with doing things with my family or reading/something relaxing.

I think working from home will make it more difficult but Apts suggestion of having office hours and sticking to them (enlist Mr Pigdog if necessary) is a good one.
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#4 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 02:32 PM

View PostMezla PigDog, on 06 January 2022 - 12:41 PM, said:

Is anyone particularly good at only working their contracted work hours and then switching off the stresses of work out of hours? And if so, do you have any habits that you think help you to cultivate this mindset?

It's a semi NY resolution of mine but I don't think I have the appropriate skills to succeed, especially whilst full time working from home. I know it makes sense but I know I'll get sucked in because I always do.


If your personal phone is connected to work email, remove that. I know so many people who can't switch off because their work emails bing into their phones at night.

I tell myself that I can only do what I can do each day and then when I log off, that's it. When I WFH during 2020, if I shut off my computer, I was no longer working. I focused on the kids and wife after that, and read or played video games to distract.
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#5 User is offline   Mezla PigDog 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 03:54 PM

Fortunately I have never had work stuff on my personal phone. And I am lucky enough to have a home office where I leave and close the door at the end of each day. It's more that the end of the day gets late and I work through lunch and sometimes take my laptop in front of the tv to finish things in the evening. And even if I finish at a good time and shut the door on it, my mind is constantly whirring. The pandemic has made it a lot worse since a lot of the time my mind is whirring about covid testing stuff which is kind of my job and with the situation constantly changing I can't get to a point of thinking "right, I don't need to worry about this anymore because I know the full picture".

But it's very irritating because I know what is good for me but I just don't do it. The volume of work gets under my skin and I ignore my sensible instincts. Why?
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#6 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 03:57 PM

Echoing above.
Remove work stuff from your personal phone.

Don't have a work phone? Get one, and make it clear that you only respond to stuff 9-5 or whatever your actual work hours are.

I used to get contracts managers emailing me at midnight then ringing me at 7am going off on why I hadn't replied.

I never read the midnight emails, I was sleeping. But I did struggle for a long time to 'switch work off', my willingness (read - stupidity) to work on late to keep a project moving etc even though everyone was clearing fucking things up and not caring didn't help.
The front door method works for me, once I step inside my house, I just reply to any phone calls with "I'll get it on Monday" and don't respond to any emails. I'm not getting paid to look at that stuff, why should I?
If you're working from home this can be tough to manage, if you can set up a designated area that you work in, and do not deal with anything work related outside of that zone.
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#7 User is offline   Imperial Historian 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 03:57 PM

View PostMezla PigDog, on 06 January 2022 - 12:41 PM, said:

Is anyone particularly good at only working their contracted work hours and then switching off the stresses of work out of hours? And if so, do you have any habits that you think help you to cultivate this mindset?

It's a semi NY resolution of mine but I don't think I have the appropriate skills to succeed, especially whilst full time working from home. I know it makes sense but I know I'll get sucked in because I always do.


I am not good at this, but some things I do to leave stress at work (and leave work on time):
1. I walk home and deliberately think about non-work things throughout the whole journey home to switch off (on my walk in I think about work things to switch on)
2. I make sure I have plans in the evening however minor, so that working late will disrupt said plans, then I have to stop because of X. If my working late is going to impact someone else I find it much easier to mentally stop.
3. I turn off my work emails on my phone and don't check them, if someone needs me out of hours they have to make the concious choice to phone me (my contract is for me to be available on the phone at all hours in the event of an emergency as I run a 24/7 site, but calls outside of work are rare)
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#8 User is offline   bubba 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 05:01 PM

I know it's not something you can do, having children and all but.....Whiskey.

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#9 User is offline   champ 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 05:17 PM

You've got to be stubborn, set your goals and stick to them. It's all about getting into a new routine...


Shut down anything work related at your finish time, to get into a habit I went through a period of turning my work phone off for the night so I wouldn't be checking it for emails. If you don't want to turn it off, put it on silent and away out of your sight.


Also when you finish work for the day, do something. Jump in the shower, do exercise or get some food, you need to create that barrier/separation from when you finish work to when your free time can start otherwise work and life just blends together.


I was terrible at turning off from work, it would be with me constantly but since I had the health issues my priorities in life just changed and the above helped me break out of a pattern.

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#10 User is offline   James Hutton 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 05:40 PM

I'm not good at this either, and I have therefore set everything up in such a way that I don't get notified of anything work-related on my hours off, so no mails, whatsapp messages etc. (I've for a time not had a smartphone, for this reason).
So you won't get distracted by work stuff you haven't asked for outside of working hours.

Now, the other thing that helps me is heavily leaning on the belief that I'm infinitely more valuable to my boss/workplace/clients/customers/colleagues when I'm mentally and physically fit, instead of down, ill, depressed, anxious etc. So I'm really (extra emphasis here) helping them if I take the time to get those things in order; do the stuff that makes me feel good. To me it feels egotistical, but the people (friends, lovers, close colleagues) around me actually encourage me to do so and very much appreciate it when I do it.

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#11 User is offline   amphibian 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 08:50 PM

I found a ton of value in doing something physically that is intense enough physically and mentally that I must focus solely on it. The work has to leave my mind while I do that thing. If you are the kind of person who can get really into board games or something like that, great! That's a bit easier.

I need the physical component, so I used to do BJJ/MMA until I stopped due to COVID. Now I do dog walks that are also training walks and I play board games + video games for the mental part.
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#12 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 09:48 PM

Didn't realise I cross posted with Mez

Stop working through your lunch breaks or taking the laptop to the sofa to finish stuff.
If you can't get it done in your set hours they are giving you too much work, simple as that.

It's (afaik) illegal to lunch at your desk and work through your break in France, and this is a good thing.

Taking the laptop to the sofa, working through your break etc, tell your brain that work is more important than you are, break that mantra and you'll beat the system!
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#13 User is offline   Cyphon 

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Posted 06 January 2022 - 10:19 PM

Lots of good suggestions in here depending on how much latitude you've got with the kid and life.

I think the theme here is building separation. One of the things is where you work. I'm lucky to have a study but when I didn't it was hard. So if you can't walk away, having a space where you work that can then be dismantled or disguised with very little work will help.

Also when you have work thoughts write it down to get it out and you can deal in the morning. Getting the idea out of your sub conscious will help.
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#14 User is offline   Mentalist 

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Posted 07 January 2022 - 05:52 AM

I used to work until 6 or 7 pm when I was back at the office, because I didn't care/could focus better once people stopped calling/didn't want to be taking the subway in rush hour

But since working at home, I've got the work laptop that's for working, and a desktop PC that's for gaming, sitting on the same big desk I used to do homework on back in highschool.

So once I turn on the desktop, work doesn't exist. Period.
I do have have my phone. Which coworkers can use in case of a total emergency, but almost no one ever does. And typically, working from home, my hours are 830-430, and everything after that is down time. Since living at home I don't eat a full lunch meal, doing basically breakfast, supper, and several cups of tea with fruits or sandwiches I can scrounge in the kitchen while making more tea; so I don't take "lunch" off, and if people call, I answer. This was more of a dietary change than anything, since without commuting and sports I'm less active, so I figure I should eat less.

But yeah, once you punch out, it's done. For me it's easy, b/c all my work data I use locally is on a secured flash drive, so logging off the work VPN + removing the drive means work is done. It's a simple, but very powerful symbolic gesture.
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View PostJump Around, on 23 October 2011 - 11:04 AM, said:

And I want to state that Ment has out-weaseled me by far in this game.
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#15 User is offline   Morgoth 

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Posted 07 January 2022 - 07:21 AM

I am not particularly good at this myself, so you know, big caveat there. I hit a wall myself around the fall of 2020. Working from home resulted in me never really leaving work, and working way way too much.

Part of the issue I think is the nature of your job and your position, it's hard to turn off that part of your brain when so much depends on what you do. To an extent I don't think a complete separation is possible. If it was I doubt you'd be where you are. My work always churns somewhere in the back of my head, the best I can do is keep my "listening" to a minimum. Everyone's different of course, but for me I've found the best strategy to distance myself from all of that is to have something concrete and entirely separate from work to do once I've finished the work day. Normally for me that's making dinner. I put on some music and cook. If I just stretch out on the couch or something work never really leaves me. In addition, now that I work from home all the time, I've made a point of never working anywhere but the home office. Even if I get a call about something in the evening I move into the office to answer.
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#16 User is offline   bubba 

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Posted 07 January 2022 - 01:03 PM

The hardest for me is when work attacks me in my sleep. Work dreams suck.

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#17 User is offline   Tsundoku 

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Posted 07 January 2022 - 02:34 PM

I'm back at work on 19 Jan and I'm already getting wound up about it. :(

Where there were 4 people in my team to cover 200 people in our subunit of a larger unit of 560 at the start of last year it's now down to just me covering 200 people in 5 locations.
This is why when I'm working I'm usually doing at least 2 hours OT each day and eat lunch at my desk.

So not looking forward to going back because it's going to be flat out from day 1.

This post has been edited by Tsundoku: 07 January 2022 - 02:35 PM

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#18 User is online   Tiste Simeon 

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Posted 07 January 2022 - 02:45 PM

Back to work today for me and I spent much of yesterday fretting about the emails I'd be coming in to.

It was bad and I have lots to catch up with but not as bad as my anxiety said it would be. I find that sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that it's not so bad...
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#19 User is offline   Mezla PigDog 

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Posted 07 January 2022 - 05:04 PM

View PostTsundoku, on 07 January 2022 - 02:34 PM, said:

This is why when I'm working I'm usually doing at least 2 hours OT each day and eat lunch at my desk.


What would happen if you just didn't do it? If everything is on fire then fire fight the things most on fire in a given set of contracted hours?

This is what I ask myself. Just because I am the only one able to fix stuff, I guess I don't have to outside of contracted working hours. Even though most things I leave on fire will make my job worse. I'm going to try and let more fires burn themselves out or spread to other parts of the business and for the ones that make things worse just think 'fuck it'.

Good chat though peeps. Especially enjoying hearing from others who struggle.

I'm trying switching off at 5pm each day, regardless. It's not east as just as I'm finishing up now a junior team member asks for help at 17:04. I guess if I do it more often than not then it's an improvement. I often finish at 5pm to sort out the kid but end up gravitating back later. That needs to stop.
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#20 User is offline   HoosierDaddy 

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Posted 07 January 2022 - 05:20 PM

I think with technology the way it is... your phone is literally a computer... this is more common than not. I have terrible problems shutting down after work, separating work/home, and working from home exacerbates that massively.

I've been working from home all week after testing positive for Covid. Most of my business work from home pretty hybrid, so they didn't understand not liking working from home. As I explained to them, I need a clean break from work/home. I get confused if I work from home because there is no clear delineation between "work time" and "my time", which clearly exists when I leave to go to work and come home.

So I've been reading some of these answers nodding my head because I understand all too well.

The thought of deleting my work email from my phone makes me grimace. It's a sort of crutch knowing I can check in/see what the next morning will look like by checking my phone.

And my office is entirely on board with me HAVING that balance. I'M the one who struggles with it.

I had 2 weeks off for Christmas and I checked my e-mail nearly every damn day and ended up working 3 days until I got sick.

So, thanks to all who shared. I think it is a common struggle and will only continue to get worse.
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