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The secret to switching off from work when not in the office

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The landscape is abuzz with reports on how not doing work after 9pm can, in fact, help staff become much more productive the following day at work.

But this is, however, easier said than done.

With constant and easy access to work emails and high job demands, worrying about work even when not in the office seems inevitable.

Thankfully, new research from Ball State University has found a simple technique professionals can use to switch off from work when they need.

Dr Brandon Smit found planning how to resolve incomplete work tasks can help employees switch off from work and enjoy their evenings.

In a study of people’s ability to detach themselves from work, Dr Smit used an online questionnaire to survey 103 employees pursuing 1127 work goals.

Overall, he observed they had more difficulty detaching from work tasks that had been left uncompleted, especially when these were important to them.

ALSO READ: No after-work emails please, it’s the law

However, one group of employees were encouraged to create plans by writing down where, when, and how they would complete these unfinished tasks.

Dr Smit found that they detached themselves from work more effectively than employees who did not create plans.

“If you have an important deadline looming on the horizon, for example, your brain will keep nudging you with reminders, which makes it difficult to get a break from work demands,” Dr Smit said.

He added that professionals have the ability to ‘turn off’, or at least ‘turn down’, these cognitive processes by planning out where, when, and how goals will be accomplished.

“This is primarily true for people that already have a difficult time forgetting about work during leisure because their job plays a central role in their life. For them, a simple change to their work routine like task planning near the end of the workday would likely make a real difference.”

Image: Shutterstock

HR Masterclass from Human Resources magazine: High-level HR strategy training workshops
led by the world's most respected HR thought leaders & strategists.
Review the 2019 programme here »

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