If you have a hard time shutting down at the end of the day, you're not alone. Most of us have a habit of letting the workday linger. To keep this from happening, assign a specific place and time for your unfinished business.
Photo by Julie Jordan Scott.
This tip comes from research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. The research studied over 100 employees pursuing 1,127 different goals. Unsurprisingly, the study found employees had a hard time detaching themselves from incomplete work at the end of the day. Most of us have been there: there's a task we didn't get to, and even though it can wait, we can't stop thinking about it, so we take it home or stay at the office later than we'd like.
To combat this, researcher Brandon Smit asked subjects to set a specific time and place for their unfinished tasks. For example, "send email when I get to my desk at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning." In doing this, the study concluded:
Creating plans at the end of the day that describe where, when, and how unfulfilled work goals will be completed is an effective, low-cost intervention that enhances psychological detachment among employees, which will ultimately improve occupational health and performance.
In other words, making the action specific helped employees stop thinking about their unfinished business during non-working hours. It's a small study, but the concept makes sense, and it's simple enough to try if you have trouble leaving work at work. For more detail, head to the links below.
Successfully leaving work at work: The self-regulatory underpinnings of psychological detachment [The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology via The British Psychological Society]