How to transition out of work mode

Whether you call it switching off, winding down, logging off or just chilling the heck out, moving from work mode to leisure mode is a super-important transition for your wellbeing and work engagement – and a subject that's always worth revisiting.
work mode 16x9 hero (Piecework puzzles)

Classic research from The Academy of Management Review highlights the importance of finding the rites of transition, both physical and psychological, that do it for you. So, beyond going for a walk and turning off notifications, what else is there? We spoke to behavioural scientist Laura Giurge and some small business owners for their tips.

Laura’s tips

• ‘Acknowledge the progress you made by looking at the tasks you completed that day. When we feel we accomplished our work, we’re much better at stopping work and feeling that we can relax.

• ‘Make a shutdown routine that you go through at the end of the day (eg, check calendar, emails, make a list for the next day) and then say out loud: “shutdown complete”. 

• ‘Set a check-in personal call with a friend or family member at the end of the work day – you could take the call while you’re walking.

• ‘Use a box to put your work stuff in so you create a ritual that symbolically and physically separates your work time from your non-work time; you could even consider putting that box in another room so it’s out of sight.

• ‘If you use the same computer for both work and personal use, create a separate account that’s just for fun and leisure. 

• ‘Plan a different fun thing to do each evening, perhaps different themed nights for each, to create anticipation and something to look forward to.’

What business owners do 

• ‘I build food-making machines with my son out of Lego Mindstorms components. Our latest is a fully automated matcha-making kiosk.’ Scott Friedmann, Acid League.

• ‘Having a glass of wine or working on a puzzle really eases the transition from one headspace to the next. Auditory shifts, like putting on a podcast while cooking dinner, have also been really helpful.’ Rachel Hochhauser, Piecework Puzzles.

• ‘I have a leisure iPad for doing fun stuff online out of work hours. Just music apps, Duolingo, apps for visual curation, games, whatever. No work stuff allowed.’ Marty Bell, Nude

• ‘Tbh, I take a shower and have a negroni.’ Damiane Nickles, notaplantshop.

• ‘I make a new list, then put away my laptop and do some stretches to avoid tech neck. Then I cook dinner as it takes my mind off everything from the day.’ Emma Bates, Diem.

• ‘I try to pause work by 7pm for a workout and dinner. That usually means a run outside or home workouts just to get some movement in.’ Mayssa Chehata, Behave.

• ‘I listen to smart people and podcasts way above my mental pay grade – they might be about quantum theory or AI or anything, really, so long as it gets me thinking about nature and the bigger picture.’ Emmett Shine, Pattern.

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