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13 Rituals to Mentally Switch off Your Workday

March 30, 2022
heycollab turn off your work day

As a project management tool built for efficiency, Heycollab’s focus is to enhance productivity and seamless collaboration. But work-life balance is also of the utmost importance, especially in an age where the construct of office has dramatically changed. Just as important it’s to be productive, it’s equally important to switch off your workday.

Before the pandemic disrupted our lives – which seems ages ago – we had clear distinctions between professional and personal lives. Going to work meant getting ready, leaving home, and traveling to the office. Similarly, the ritual of getting out of the office signaled that it was the end of the workday. The routine had an inbuilt structure for work-life balance.

But remote work has changed all that with work extending beyond office hours. The boundaries between professional and personal lives have blurred. This poses serious challenges for work-life balance. One way to solve it is by ensuring that your professional life stays organized and is easy to access, with all your tasks, messages, and files in one place like in Heycollab.

But winding down is also important. To make it easy for you – and your family members – here are 12 rituals to mentally switch off your workday. You don’t have to do all these. Choosing the ones that work well for you can immensely help you.

  1. Set aside time for unwinding

You can’t switch off work merely by closing all the tabs. It will be difficult for the brain to suddenly get into a different mode. That’s why you would need to set aside time to wind down. This is your time to unload all the work-related issues from your mind. For some, it could be a few minutes whereas for others it would be half an hour or more.

Remember that your time for unwinding needs to be respected irrespective of when your workday gets over. If it extends, don’t reduce your wind-down time. Soon your body will associate this as the cut-off time after work and you’ll begin to relax subconsciously. You’ll begin to take a break from work without consciously being aware of the switch.

  1. Understand what helps you relax

It could be reading, writing, going for a walk, listening to music, or talking to a friend. You should know what helps you wind down after the day’s work. In some cases, it may even be work-related like preparing the to-do list for the next day. The idea isn’t to completely zone out but to tell your brain that you’re done for the day.

It should be something simple to do that doesn’t require any elaborate planning. Cleaning your inbox or closing all the tabs can also count as a wind-down activity. It will also be helpful to mix it up. Some days, you could just open an article or video that you may have bookmarked days ago.

  1. Cross off your to-do list

Few activities can match the pleasure of crossing off tasks on a to-do list. Of course, for this, you need to have a to-do list. At the end of your workday, revisit your work list and go through everything you would have accomplished. With Heycollab, you can easily see this on “My Work” which will show you the tasks assigned to you.

Here’s a pro tip for your to-do lists: Don’t just mention the important tasks. You can include what might seem like trivial tasks like sending an email or calling your client. You’ll be happy when you see the number of accomplishments at the end of the day. It will give you an accurate picture of everything you’ve accomplished in one day.

  1. Write a to-do list

Finishing the day’s tasks and noting them will feel good. What will feel better is preparing for the next day. Another proven tactic to end your day on a high is to list out the things that you would need to get done. You only have to write down your tasks and not get into  the details. This will mentally prepare you and not leave you feeling overwhelmed when you open your laptop the next day.

On Heycollab, you can go to the “Work” tab to see all the assignments that your team would be working on, which will give you a bird’s eye view of your tasks.

Organizing your work at the end of the day also lets you be in control of your work life. There won’t be unpleasant surprises and you won’t miss out on any crucial tasks. This will also increase your productivity and let you get more done on any given day. That feeling of staying on top of your work will also help you relax better. And let’s not forget, if you write your to-do list at the end of the day, that’s one less thing to do in the morning.

  1. Write a journal entry

Journaling has been proven to be highly beneficial for mental health. If you’ve never done it, the good news is that it doesn’t require any preparation or practice. All you’ve got to do is open a notebook or document and write a few notes about how your day went. What’s important in journaling is that you’re not only writing down the events of the day like you’d in a diary. You’re writing about how you felt throughout the day.

When you write an entry in your journal, you’ll be labeling your emotions. You’d know not only how you felt but be able to define that feeling and mention the trigger behind it. This will help you objectively analyze the circumstance. You’ll be able to recognize it early the next it happens. Journaling is also an excellent tool for positive self-talk with the added benefit that you’ll be writing them down.

  1. Watch a video

Or two. It could be a TED talk or cat video. The only aim is to get you to relax and forget about work. Whether it’s an informative or entertaining video, your mind will immediately forget the day’s tasks and focus on something different. If you have it bookmarked, it will give you one more reason to look forward to the end of the day.

Here’s an important thing about watching a video to wind down after work. You must ensure that it’s a short video. Give yourself a specific duration for watching it. The last thing you need is to go down a YouTube rabbit hole, which will be exhausting. So, select short videos and give a cut-off time.

  1. Go for a walk

What’s the easiest way to literally and figuratively leave your work behind? Going for a walk. An evening walk can do wonders for your body and mind and is one of the easiest things to do. At the end of the day, at the designated hour, go for a stroll around your block and you’ll see your neighborhood in a new light.

A walk gives you time to recharge. Instead of thinking about work or the next day, it would be extremely beneficial to stay in the moment and experience what you see. This much-needed time away from your screens will also make you feel rooted in the larger reality outside of work. Who knows, you might even make new friends in your walks.

  1. Exercise

You can choose to exercise in the evening instead of in the morning. This will not only save you time in the morning but also give you a new ritual to wind down after work. Exercise can boost your physical and mental health but that doesn’t mean you need to hit the neighborhood gym. There are several exercises you can comfortably do at home.

Once you’re through with work, you can do some resistance training, pilates, or yoga. If you’ve had a tough day, a 15 to 20-minute session of mild or intense exercise can be the best antidote. Importantly, this will give you more energy to spend with your loved ones.

  1. Listen to a podcast

So many podcasts and so little time to listen. Everyone can relate to this feeling. The primary issue with this “podcast pileup” is that people want to listen to them in one go. But you can start listening to your favorite podcasts during your wind-down period. If it’s a short episode, you can finish it in one session. If it’s a longer episode, you can divide it over two or three days.

You can choose podcasts on your professional domain and it will become an opportunity to up-skill. But it needn’t be about work. You can also listen to podcasts on true crime, entertainment, personal relationships, or movies. The objective is to relax and let your mind associate this with winding down from work.

  1. Make a wind-down playlist

One of the easiest ways to unwind is by listening to music. Instead of listening to random music or those suggested by your audio platforms, you can also make a playlist. These could be songs from your childhood or college days. You can even treat it as an opportunity to discover new music.

Your wind-down playlist will help you relax and make you forget about work. It will refresh you and uplift your spirits. The best part? The next time you’re stressed in the middle of the day, you can go to your playlist. It will instantly put you in the right mood.

  1. Meditate

Meditation is the one thing that’s common to most successful people across sectors. Unfortunately, the media can sometimes make it sound mystical and therefore inaccessible. But the truth is that anyone can meditate anywhere without the help of instructors.

As an online search will tell you, it’s all about focusing on your breath while guiding your attention to the present. If even that sounds challenging, you can try the Navy Seal breathing method. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, filling up your abdomen and then lungs. Hold your breath for another four seconds. Now exhale for four seconds. After that, hold your breath again for four seconds.

  1. Call a friend

A key element of a healthy work-life balance is time spent with friends. Due to lack of time people often reserve it for weekends. But you can utilize your wind-down time to call your friends, which will immensely help you switch off from work.

It can be a mobile or a video call. The trick is to structure it by going through your contact list and finding out those you haven’t called in a while. You can also hold group video calls once a week or so.

Once you regularly start talking to friends, you’ll realize that you look forward to your evenings. Even a five-minute conversation with a friend can have a huge impact on your mood. But with everything else, you need to be intentional about it and make time for it.

  1. Mix it up

The best thing about these tips on how to switch off work is that you can mix them up. It will also make your evenings more interesting. For example, you can listen to music while working out. You can talk to your friends while out on your walks.

You can even club them with chores that you’re supposed to do. Need to pick up groceries? Take a walk and listen to your playlist on the way. Creating your to-do list for the next day? Listen to a podcast while figuring out your tasks.

In short

While most work-from-home tips center on productivity, there’s little attention on how to switch off work. Even with the best of project management tools like Heycollab, you would need a wind-down ritual to be physically and emotionally healthy and maintain a work-life balance.

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