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At the end of the day

We respond well to routines and little rituals that tell our brains to get ready for something; you can use this to help define the end of your working day.

silhouette of woman blowing a bubble, bubble is a clock

Send yourself signals you'll recognize

There are many areas of life that we have little rituals for, making a cup of tea, getting ready in the morning. We create a pattern of doing things that becomes familiar and our brain recognizes those behaviours as a signal that we are going to do something and prepares us mentally, for that thing to happen.

Most of the time we do this unconsciously, but you can consciously create a pattern to help establish a new behaviour, it is similar to what we do when we take up something like the Couch to 5k.

For many people, whether home working or on site, finishing on time can be a challenge. There is a tendency to do one last task, which may only take 15 minutes, but that is 15 minutes more than you needed to work. Of course sometimes a job needs to  be completed and once in a while this fine, but when it becomes the norm it can add to feelings of tiredness and stress.

If you need to break the habit of over working at the end of the day try these 5 tips to help create a new, healthier habit of finishing on time.

  1. Clearly communicate to colleagues what time you will finish each day and encourage them to remind you when that time is up, and do the same for them. The more comfortable we are having conversations about leaving on time the easier it is to translate words into actions.
  2. Set yourself a reminder 15 minutes before you plan to leave (or finish up if working at home); this is a bit like the 5 minute warning parents give to children to take them home, it is offers a space to ready yourself for going while still allowing time to finish up the things you are doing.
  3. Make yourself a drink about an hour before you finish, it is the ‘last cup of the day’ at work and will help ease you into a mindset of ending work.Man in office drinking a mug of tea
  4. Create a space between work and home. Whether home working or on site, find something you can do between ending work and being at home. This could be going for a walk, or calling a friend, or just listening to some music. It creates a transitional space and something to look forward to that signals work is over.
  5. Turn the phone to silent. If you have a work phone, or are part of a work WhatsApp group, silence the notifications for messages and emails so once you do stop work you aren’t tempted back in later on. If you turn the volume down on your work phone at the end of your working day, and turn up at the start of your working day it can create a positive habit that clearly defines when you are work and when you are not at work. It can also help to put the phone away so you don’t have the visual reminder to check it.

Clearly identifying the space that is for work and the space that is for you can really help to manage any work stress.

You’ll find your own ways to define what finishing work means for you and we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.