In order to relax from the day you need to be able to leave work at work. That is difficult in today’s society where an expectation of 24/7 availability through e-mail, text, and phone calls make it hard to turn off your working brain.
This is twice as bad for those like myself who are entrepreneurs. The line between work and personal life is very fuzzy, and sometimes non-existent.
I’ve found a few actionable tips that really help me disengage from my work brain, and let me enjoy my time off even more. These are things I learned through years of running my own business and struggling with burnout.
Tip #1: My Embarrassing Technique to De-Stress
I’m going to start this list with my best tip to radically shift your brain from work mode to relaxing mode. This technique works best for those that have stressful jobs or have careers that require a lot of brainpower.
The technique is also slightly embarrassing, but don’t worry, that’s part of the secret.
At the end of your work day find a spot that is secluded where you won’t be bothered for 5 minutes. Start up some music that really gets you going and just dance.
Yep, that is the secret: Have a personal dance party.
I know this sounds silly and weird, but trust me, it really WORKS! It is even more effective if you are like me and born without any sense of rhythm.
I’m a white, nerdy guy from Idaho. I don’t know how to shake my hips. I’ve been to a dance club less than a half dozen times. I’ve actively had women I’ve danced with tell me I’m a bad dancer.
I suck at dancing. (here is the proof of me dancing in my living room after working from my home office)
(No one can beat my shimmy shimmy butt wiggle dance move)
But there is something magical about dancing. Even if you are HORRIBLE at it, all humans have an innate desire to want to move when they hear good music (for me it’s anything by my man Justin Timberlake).
So at the end of a hard day, I put on one song and I dance around my office. I probably look ridiculous, but every single time by the end of it I’m laughing, smiling, and just feeling good.
More than anything my work brain has completely shut down and now I am in play mode. It also helps me not take myself so seriously, which is always a good thing.
Tip #2: The Robotic Way to Leave Work at Work
The other big way I’ve managed to shut down my work brain is stolen directly from sci-fi movies. If you’ve ever seen a movie with a robot or android, sometimes when they are finished doing something they will perform a ‘shutdown sequence’.
The robot shuts itself down and enters rest and recharge mode.
I came up with my own work shutdown routine that let’s me know everything is taken care of and I don’t have to think about work for the rest of the day. My sequence changes occasionally, but my current shutdown sequence looks like this:
- Finish any small tasks that must be done today
- Check my Trello
- Make a list of the 5 things I should do tomorrow to move my business forward
- Finish my work journal entry
- Add anything to my tracking metrics doc
- Dance Party
I know that when I complete this routine that everything is taken care of for the day. If my mind ever goes back to work I will remind myself that I’ve already done my work shutdown routine, and that it’s okay to relax.
I know that by relaxing on my off time I am even MORE effective when I actually work. That is why it is so important to have a work shutdown routine.
Tip #3: Keeping Score to Feel Productive
When I first started my business I was working many hours more than I should (60+!). I don’t say this as a point of pride, I know now that when a person claims to be working 60, 70, or 80 hour weeks, most of the time they are not being very productive.
They might technically be at work, but they work slower and studies have shown that productivity tanks after about 35-40 hours (especially for careers that require creative thinking).
There were days in the beginning where I would work a whole day, but I wouldn’t feel accomplished. I eventually read the book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time which discusses a way to get things done in a team.
I’m a team of one, so I took the ideas that worked and I applied them to my life. The idea I love the most is the concept of scoring each task on your to-do list. You score it based on it’s importance, difficulty, and time it takes to accomplish it.
The key is to not score it on a simple 1-10 scale, but instead to use the Fibonacci sequence. 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55 …
The reason you do this is because sometimes it’s hard to determine if a task is a difficulty/importance of a 6 or a 7, but it’s pretty clear if it is a either an 8 or a 13. That big jump between numbers helps add clarity.
Each time you complete a task you note what you scored it on the Fibonacci rating scale of difficulty/importance, and you add that to your days total. At the end of the day when you add up all the scores of all the tasks you’ve completed that day, you have your ‘productivity speed’.
Over a couple weeks you will start notice what your average productivity speed is.
You will be able to see if you’ve had a good day, or if you’ve had a day where it was full of tasks that were low importance (leading to a low score).
This scoring of tasks also uses the psychology of gaming to give you that little boost in motivation. It feels GOOD when you can see your score at the end of the day and you know you’ve exceeded your usual average. You reached a new high score!
Implement One of These Tips
I’m sure that one of these ideas jumped out at you more than the other two. I highly encourage you to implement that idea in your life for the next week. Whether it be an end of the day solo dance party, a work shutdown routine, or scoring the tasks you do throughout the day.
Leave a comment below and let me know which one you are going to do.