You glance at the time in the corner of your computer monitor. Somehow, it’s already nearly 7PM—a half hour past the time when you had promised yourself you’d pack up and leave the office.
You tie up a few loose ends, shut down your computer, and leave the rest of your work for tomorrow—or so you think. In reality? You spend the rest of your evening checking emails, doing research and getting a jump-start on your to-do list for the next day.
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Sound familiar? You aren’t alone. We’re all more connected to work than ever, which makes it tough to truly unplug. And, for self-proclaimed workaholics, it can feel almost impossible to step back and get that necessary time to recharge.
However, giving yourself a break from that constant mental grind is crucial for feeling healthy and happy—inside the office and out. With that in mind, here are four essential tips workaholics can use to strike a better work-life balance.
1. Schedule in Your Personal Time
Meetings, seminars, appointments and coffee dates. As someone who lives and breathes your work, you probably rely on your calendar as your lifeline.
So, why not leverage that to your advantage and literally schedule in some personal time for yourself? Whether it’s a workout class you’ve been meaning to take, dinner with friends, or even an uninterrupted hour or two when you can read a book or do something you enjoy, block out some time on your calendar.
Then, honor that personal time like you would any other professional commitment. It’s a small step, but it instills a sense of accountability in making sure that you’re leaving enough time for some rest and relaxation.
2. Tailor Your To-Do List
When is the last time you managed to check off every single item on your to-do list? If you’re like most people, hardly ever. In fact, a whopping 90% of professionals admit to being unable to accomplish all of the tasks on their lists each day.
This presents a problem for people who call themselves workaholics, as it’s increasingly tough to shut off that work portion of your brain if those undone items are lingering over your head.
Here’s a simple solution: Make a shorter, more focused to-do list for yourself. Rather than treating that notepad as a chance to jot every single action item—whether it needs to be done tomorrow or three weeks from now—use it as a roster of only the things that need to be done today.
Challenge yourself to stick to only three (yes, three!) items on your to-do list each day. Experts say that’s the perfect number to keep you focused, motivated and productive.
3. Enlist Help
Nobody works in a vacuum, and enlisting help from others can be a great way to keep your workaholic tendencies at bay.
This can work in two different ways. The first is to ask for some assistance with the work that’s on your plate. If you’re feeling particularly swamped, asking your colleagues to pitch in every now and then can help you get caught up, pull yourself out from under that pile and start escaping the office at a reasonable hour.
Another way you can enlist the help of others? Choose a trusted coworker or close friend to help keep you accountable. Tell him or her what time you plan to shut down or that you’re intending to spend the whole weekend relaxing—rather than working. He or she can then check in on you to prevent you from slipping back into your old workaholic habits.
It can seem a little strange to have someone keep an eye on you. But, it’s also incredibly effective.
4. Quite Literally Unplug
With laptops, tablets, phones and remote work on the rise, it’s harder than ever to actually disconnect from the office—your work can follow you everywhere.
This is why a total digital detox can be so helpful. Pick a time each evening when you’ll shut off your phone or leave it in another room. Challenge yourself to do an entirely screen-free weekend. Or, delete your work email app from your phone altogether!
Spending some time without your work constantly in front of your face will empower you actually to unplug and relax. And, you’ll likely even rediscover some passions and hobbies that you previously let fall by the wayside—thus further improving your sense of work-life balance.
Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with loving what you do. But, some time away from your day job is still important—so you need to figure out some strategies to help you leave work at work. Give these a try, and you’ll be well on your way to changing your workaholic ways!