1.Decide what time you will allocate to your working day (start and finish times) and how long you will take for lunch. Stick to these times at least once a week to begin with, and plan to increase this to two days, three days etc – commit to this for a period of one month, and see what difference it makes. You may still have to be flexible, but it should be a conscious choice to work late for exceptional reasons, rather than just a habit you fall into. Give yourself a reason to finish on time at least once a week, like taking up a class, or meeting up with friends etc.
For the last 10 minutes of your working day, write down the tasks you need to do tomorrow or this week – and prioritise them according to urgency and importance. This will help clear your mind before you go home. If you have a lot of other “non-work” things, make another list for those, and use the same approach.
Get back in control of technology. Switch off your phone after work, or put it on silent. Put your computer on mute (or switch it off) so you won’t hear it beep. If you have Blackberry or similar, see if you can switch off emails out of office hours. Allocate a time each day to check your personal emails or social networks – valuable time can slip away doing very little!
Remind yourself to be fully present no matter what you’re doing, whether its work or leisure time. If you get distracted by other worries, bring yourself back to the moment. Look at your hands, bring them together, feel the sensation of touch, notice your skin, nails and so on – our “head tiredness” comes from being “in the head” constantly during the day, when we need to regularly check in with our body too and remind ourselves to be fully present. Breathe deeply, and focus on your breath for 60 seconds to bring you into the now!
Relaxing classes like yoga, pilates, tai chi etc are all very helpful, not just for physical benefits, but helping you learn to relax and manage your thoughts. If you find it difficult to get to a class, use DVDs, or there are plenty of free tutorials online e.g. YouTube help you learn how to switch off – it does get easier with practice. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!
Indulge your passions, eg if it’s writing you love, what can you write, where will you write, eg blog, magazine book etc. Activities you are passionate about will recharge your batteries rather than discharge them.
Go for a walk even for just ten or twenty minutes a day, perhaps at lunch time; spend a few minutes noticing every detail around you, the cracks in the paving, weeds, sounds, smells. Notice how things seem to slow down when you do this…
Worrying won’t help you, so decide that you will put off worrying until tomorrow! If worries keep you awake at night, consider writing a “worry log” in the early evening (not immediately before bed), to help clear your mind – then try some relaxation exercises (see #9). You can use shorthand or code if you are concerned that someone else will see it. It may be sufficient to just write them down, or you can analyse why you’re worrying, what your worst fear is, what triggers the worry, what is the likelihood of this happening – rate your “worry index” and see what actions you can take to reduce or manage your response to it.
Try using relaxation or visualisation CDs to help you relax – there are also plenty of these available free online, or as podcasts.
Write down one personal goal that you’d like to achieve each month, or perhaps one per quarter – we are used to setting goals in a work environment, but don’t often push ourselves personally as we feel too tired; maybe you’ll run a 5k race, paint a picture, learn a new instrument, join a class, participate in a charity event…. you’ll be surprised what new doors open for you when you open the first one!