Winding down from work

22 Nov 2022

Rituals to End the Workday

Our brains need a clear distinction that we have finished work for the day to be able to switch into rest mode.

Unplugging is essential to create a divide between your workday and your personal time, where you can focus on your family, physical and emotional health, and hobbies. Not allowing yourself to detach can leave the door open to health problems such as sleep problems, exhaustion, memory issues and even burnout.

Many of us have made the mistake of thinking about work long after we should’ve finished for the day. Whether you feel like there isn’t enough time in the day or you that you process tasks better outside of your working hours – it is important to have a routine, tailored to you, that allows you to switch off.

By implementing a simple activity or two at the end of each day, you can actively help future you prepare for the day ahead:

  • Clean up your workspace
    When your devices are within reach, it can be tempting to log back on after work hours. Whether you have a dedicated office space or work from your kitchen table – it is important to pack up and shut down until the next day. Make sure you turn off your computer and tidy up the area to embrace - out of sight, out of mind.
  • Review your completed tasks
    Sometimes it’s all about the little wins, and nothing helps you end a workday with satisfaction like acknowledging everything you accomplished.
  • Leave a small to-do list
    One of the reasons it can be so hard to stop thinking about work after hours, is that our brains hold on to thoughts of incomplete tasks until we can check them off the list. Simply making a plan on how or when you will complete outstanding tasks, you can help free your mind of intrusive thoughts – letting you enjoy your free time.
    And, if you start each day knowing exactly what you need to work on, you won’t waste time trying to figure out your priorities, which could lead to even more unfinished tasks (and more brain drain).
  • Step outside
    Step away from your designated work area and get some fresh air. Notice the smells and sights of nature, take a deep breath, and try a bit of mindfulness.
    If you can’t, try a little meditation at home. Some slow, deep breathing and centring yourself can help ease you into the non-work part of your day.
  • Set an end time
    If you’re serious about leaving work behind at the end of the day to maximize your free time, set office hours - and stick to them. 
    If you do need to work extra hours on a certain project, consider starting your day earlier in order to finish at your set time. It is often preferable to get extra work out of the way in the morning, rather than in the evening when your overtime could cut into your personal time.
  • Listen to music or a podcast
    Whether you choose to walk, work out, or simply sit down and relax - listening to your favourite music or podcast is a great stimulus that wears out your brain, allowing you to destress from your workday and let your mind wander.

Obvious benefits of having rituals to end your working days are avoiding burnout and getting better sleep – but it is also important to consider our cognitive and emotional reserves: how they get depleted during work, and the need to refill them in our leisure time. Otherwise, the next day, we’re running on an empty tank.

With home being the place where everything is going on, creating distinct breaks between work and your own time has become more important than ever.