Remote and hybrid work arrangements are great for flexibility in our lives, but they also can blur the line between work time and personal time.
It can be difficult to detach from work when your office is in your living or dining room. With this new structure, people often have a lot on their plates, causing them to work hours past their standard time. In this new economy, a big concept we are trying to answer is how to detach from work and stress.
Practice Professional Detachment
This is the place where you want to start. If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about professional detachment once or twice (or 50 times), and the reason for that is because it works, and you need it.
Professional detachment is the ability to distance oneself from emotions during uncomfortable and stressful times at work. Even when it’s awkward or intense, you don’t get caught up in the emotional turmoil. Not everything you do at your job is at Defcon 1, and without you, it won’t all explode into tiny pieces.
As within life, you should care about your work and do it to your best ability, but nitpicking everything will hold you back rather than push you forward. Embracing professional detachment is necessary to survive this crazy thing called work. Not everything is an attack on your soul, and not everything needs to be solved by only you.
Protect your sanity!
Set Your Boundaries
Boundaries are a necessary part of life and essential to staying sane throughout your career journey. One of my core principles is putting yourself first, and while a lot of us try to live by this, the reality is we forget to do it.
The goal of any workday is to try and complete all your tasks, but depending on your workload, finishing everything in one sitting rarely happens. And since more companies are leaning into remote work, many of us spend hours in front of the screen because we feel like we have all the time in the world.
We can work these 50- to 70-hour weeks because why not? We’re home, don’t have to travel anywhere and can just get it all done, right? Well, the short answer, my friend, is to stop doing that! To put yourself first, you need to learn to slack off, and to do that, you need to set boundaries.
Being a hard worker and not stopping until the work’s done is an admirable trait anyone can have, but at the same time, you are being disloyal to the person who matters most—yourself. So unless your deadline is at midnight on the dot, your work has no business encroaching on your personal time because it’s your personal time for a reason. While this isn’t always easy to do, it’s about intentionally setting these boundaries.
Unplugging from work doesn’t mean you wait until you go on vacation. Many of us have a hard time leaving the work behind, and now that remote work has become the norm, it’s hard to disconnect and genuinely leave work at work.
For the folks still working in person, you left work or signed off at five, your assignments are finished, everything you needed to do for work is off your list and you are by all means done for the day—but then your phone starts buzzing. You get alerts for other projects that aren’t due today, small tasks that can wait for the morning and more.
Temptation lurks to answer each one and get a head start, but let me tell you this: you are causing yourself more stress. You don’t have to be “on” at every point of the day. Many people have used and abused the “hustle culture” to the point where most think that being connected 24/7 or the mindset that “you can sleep when you’re dead” is a badge of honor. In reality it’s a path to burnout, stress and anxiety.
The hustle culture isn’t all bad because there are times when we have to work more or longer hours to reach our goals, but being successful also means knowing when you need to disconnect and recharge. You need sleep, rest and time away from work to experience new things and form new ideas.
If it’s only for a few hours, disconnect to get your head right and show up as the best version of yourself.
Have a Reason to Stop Working on Time
It can be tough to stop working on time, especially when you have a significant workload. You can set the alarm to go off at the end of the day when you want to stop working, but the problem with that is you can easily turn it off and keep working on it. And before you know it, it’s 11 p.m. everything is dark, your stomach is about to devour itself and you’ve worked more than you planned.
Instead of setting the alarm, try scheduling an appointment for 30 minutes to an hour after you plan to end work for the day. If you go to the gym and work with a trainer or attend a class, schedule your session for right after work or pick a class that starts around that time. Plan to meet your friends or family right after work so you’re motivated to finish on time.
Don’t be afraid to hold yourself accountable when you make these plans and end the day at the time you want. In reality, this method won’t always work because things happen that are out of our control. So, don’t rely heavily on this, but try to implement it where you can.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
As much as we want to all be superheroes (or not), we don’t have supernatural abilities that allow us to move at the speed of light or extra arms that can help us multitask like an expert.
You are ambitious, and you want to show everyone that you are always here to help and willing to help everywhere you can, but you are just one person. Most times, you already have a lot on your plate that needs to get done, but it takes having the self-awareness to know when things are too much.
Everyone’s capacity for work is different, and if you are already at your capacity, why are you trying to overload yourself to the point of burnout? To detach from work means to work smarter, not harder.
Bask in the Downtime
Downtime is crucial to anyone’s sanity. And while there is a call for better work-life balance in the world of work, it seems like downtime is the one thing we are all still searching and fighting for.
Right now, many of our minds race with what we need to do next, then after that, and then after that, but you need to take a deep breath! It doesn’t matter if it’s for two minutes, a whole hour or a day; bask in your downtime.
Don’t think about the work or the projects that make you anxious. Take this time to recharge after a stressful day, week, month, etc., to get your mind right and work on lowering your stress. Small moments of downtime can have a genuine impact.
Take a Break in Between
It’s easy to get into the zone. You are on fire, completing tasks back-to-back with no rest in between, and when you finally lift your head from that computer screen, the day is basically over, and the weight of it all comes crashing down.
It’s okay to hit the pause button during your workflow. It can help you detach from work and have a chance to reassess specific projects with a fresher pair of eyes. Not taking breaks can lead to burnout and stress because you try to get everything done at once. Remember, you don’t have to be a superhero.
Make a schedule or put an alarm on your phone to alert you when it’s time to step away for a few minutes.
Work Is an Aspect of Your Life
Your work is not your worth.
Now re-read that until it sinks in. Work is only a part of who you are, not your whole identity. There are so many other things in your life that need your attention, even if it feels like work is the only thing you have.
To be a great worker doesn’t mean overloading yourself with work; it means understanding that while it’s important, it’s not the only thing that can fulfill you in this life. Everyone has goals and dreams for their career, but it’s OK to have moments or pockets of time where your mind is occupied with just work.
Focus on your job at work, and when you clock out, focus on the other things in your life that you believe are worth pursuing.
Put Yourself First
Everyone’s life, goals and experiences are different. Some people have the luxury to truly detach themselves from work, while others feel as though the only way to get through is to keep pushing no matter what.
Wherever you are in your career, learn how to detach from work and genuinely put yourself first.
I am so glad to see this in writing!
On the one side, your ego and your integrity is shouting “What the what? Do they even care about XYZ?” And on other side of your brain, there’s the safety cop going “Watch it. WATCH IT! Do as you’re told and go back to your desk.” The happy medium really is happy…and I am teaching myself to do what I’m told, and to respond when I’m asked…two very different things.