Do you find it difficult to completely relax and not think about work during the weekend? If so, you are not alone. Many people I meet who have jobs that engage them and their attention experience the same thing.
Some like it and do not see a problem in that they think about work or perhaps even do work-related tasks during the weekend.
But most of the people I meet (myself included) prefer letting the weekend be a break from work and a few days when we at most loosely reflect on what we do for a living but do not let work intrude too much.
It is best to respond to contradictory feelings by concretizing
If it is difficult to stop thinking about work during the weekend, it is seldom enough to just tell yourself to get it together and stop thinking about work immediately.
Rather, do something concrete to switch off work-mode on Friday afternoon and you will feel much more off-duty during the following two days.
Here are eight ideas of what you can do to get the weekend-feeling going.
- Clearly state to yourself why you want to unplug from work during the weekend. Write it down and save it somewhere. You will be helped by your own words of wisdom when you are tempted to “just fix a few things” that a colleague emailed you about on Saturday afternoon. It is easy to get sucked in again, but only because your colleagues work late on weekend-nights, it does not mean you have to as well.
- If you do all or most of your work from a home-office, rent an office-space elsewhere instead.
If this is not doable, close the door when you stop working on Friday afternoon and keep it closed during the entire weekend. (And sure, if you need to get something from your office during the weekend, you may open it, but just for a moment.)
The work will be “locked inside” the office and it is hence possible to concretely and even physically stop yourself from working when you do not really want to.
- Get a private cell-phone instead of using your work-phone on your free time. This way you can choose when to turn it off and still be available to your personal contacts.
- Make sure your to-do-list is up to date and complete, so that you can relax knowing that everything you have to do next week is on the list. Therefore there is no need for you to spend all of Sunday worrying or thinking about forgetting anything important during the week.
- Determine an efficient and quick way to make note of the things you do remember and come to think of anyway during the weekend so that you can get it off your mind and so that it is easily accessible on Monday once you are back at work. Write whatever it is on a note which you put in your portable inbox in your briefcase or bag, or send an email to your work-email.
- Do not make any work-related phone-calls on your way home Friday afternoon. Rather, let the trip home be the transition between work and your spare time, during which you leave work and the week behind you.
- Do not make your office-email available from your private computer or other digital units. This way it will be more difficult to check your work-email during the weekend. Reward yourself generously the first weekend you manage to not check your work-email even once between for instance Friday 5pm and Monday 8am.
- If you in spite of all these tricks still catch yourself thinking about work when you are off-duty, allow yourself to do so. Take ten minutes to sit down with an empty sheet before you and write down everything you keep thinking of. Place the sheet in your portable inbox, relax and let go of work mentally until you again catch yourself thinking about it. Take out the sheet and continue writing.
Optional, but I highly recommend it
If it not your wish to stop thinking about work during the weekend, but you would rather feel free to think of anything that comes to mind as it pops up, by all means, do not try any of the tips mentioned above. Just enjoy your mind flowing freely and keep doing as you please.
But if you do something tangible to turn away from work-related thoughts during the weekend, it will be easier to give yourself a well deserved break, reload and relax. You will return to work on Monday morning rested and ready for a new week, and you might experience that you are getting more done during the days of the week rather than experiencing them as a blur and filled with mundane routine.
What is your method?
What is your best tip to letting go of work during the weekend? Write a comment and share!