After a long day at work, you find yourself taking work home and so taking out pressure from work on family members and friends. And if you’re not careful, you allow your work pressure to become home pressure, at the expense of your family and relationships or your own well-being.
What should you know?
Your job determines your likely behaviour
A study by Scott Schieman of the University of Toronto found that 50% of people bring their work home and that incidence of work-life interference is higher among those who “hold professional jobs with more authority, decision-making latitude, pressure, and longer hours.”
You are at risk of becoming unwell
In the UK the Health and Safety Executive found that 43% of days lost to illness were stress related. Stress often results in irritability, anger, nervousness, and anxiousness — and these behaviours can cause tension when brought home after work and can also make you feel unwell and guilty.
Technology is not always helpful
The average person now checks their phone 46 times per day, spending nearly five hours per day on mobile devices. Do not be one of them!
You have a choice. You can minimise the impact that work stress has at home with these 10 easy steps. Start today…
STEP 1: Recharge your batteries throughout the day
It is important that you use your diary efficiently in a way that maximises your potential. Close your door, give yourself a break, don’t let anybody come into your office for even 5 minutes (conversations always take more than 5 minutes). Don’t forget to think about your water and food intake.
Coaching question: What can you do to recharge your batteries throughout the day?
STEP 2: Confine your work to a particular time and place
Keep work folders, computers, and notebooks on your desk. Start your day at a regular time and finish it at a regular time. Be strict about your working hours and stick to them. Use an electronic diary and block times.
Coaching question: How do you organise your diary? Your desk?
STEP 3: Develop daily rituals
- Switch off your email and text alerts.
- Switch off your phone in the evening and at weekends.
- Establish rules with your colleagues so that they don’t send emails after 6pm or before 8am.
- Don’t place your mobile on your bedside table. Put it in a place where you cannot see it.
- Don’t bring your laptop to bed.
Coaching question: What actions have you put in place to avoid mobile device temptation?
STEP 4: Find a thinking partner
Who can help you manage professional stress?
Coaching questions: What support network have you established for times when you feel overwhelmed? Who can you talk to?
STEP 5: Have an end-of-work habit
Make sure you tidy your desk before you leave work and that you have your ‘to-do’ list ready for the next day. Once you leave work, listen to some music, read the newspapers. Find an activity that will take your mind off what happened during the day.
Coaching questions: What activity relaxes you? How could you establish activity routines after work?
STEP 6: Get physical
Studies show exercise boosts your energy, increases your happiness, and improves your memory. Additionally, exercise helps you sleep better.
Coaching questions: What exercise do you do? What exercise could you do?
STEP 7: Create your bubble
A recent study from the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School shows that most CEOs spend about a third of their time in meetings. That’s a lot of time – about 18 hours a week. You know when you’re swamped, exhausted, feeling squeezed and you can’t get things done anymore because you don’t think straight. Too much to do and too little time! How about going into your bubble?
- Take emotional time out
- Take physical time out
- Speak to your friends
- Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and sleep
- Say no
- Choose the right people to surround yourself with
Coaching question: What would you put inside your bubble?
STEP 8: Have a mantra
Each time you feel like you’re bringing your work stress home again, say a mantra that will help ground you. You can make up your own mantra. For example, your mantra could be ‘my family is more important than my work’.
Coaching question: What is your mantra?
STEP 9: Establish boundaries
Boundaries are the invisible barriers that separate you from the world around you. Boundaries define who you are, and they keep you safe and secure, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Here are four key steps to develop stronger boundaries:
- Gain awareness of what you need more of.
- Know your core values: what are you willing to tolerate and what are you not willing to tolerate?
- Communicate why you feel the way you do.
- Be aware: pay attention to what’s happening around you.
Coaching question: What other boundaries have you put in place as a leader?
STEP 10: Learn to say no
Steve Jobs was known to ask Apple’s senior leaders ‘how many times did you say no today?’. Here are the areas where saying no can boost your productivity:
- Say no to any meeting without a ‘Decider’ in the room.
- Say no to PowerPoint.
- Say no to decisions that your direct reports should be making.
- Say no to excessive written tasks.
- Say no to posting on every social media platform.
- Say no to excessive approval layers.
- Say no to new tasks unless a current one is eliminated.
When you introduce one or more of the above strategies into your daily working habits, you’ll start reducing the time you spend on unnecessary work. A month from now, you’ll notice more free time on your calendar, and ideally, a growing sense of empowerment in your teams.
Coaching question: What are you going to say no to?