In this busy, fast-paced world, it's often easy to work around the clock — especially if you work from home. There is always more work you could do, and with luxuries like laptops, smart phones, tablets, and WiFi, we can literally work anytime and anywhere.
Sometimes the convenience of working anytime-anywhere is, well, convenient! However, there are other times when working anytime- anywhere becomes a huge burden on us, on our health, our sanity, and our family.
We need to be able to shut the "work" part of our brain off during our drive home, at a family gathering, at our kid's soccer game, and certainly before we go to bed. If we don't, our brain continues to think, make mental notes, ask questions, and focus on work-related tasks while we're trying to interact with family and friends… and while we're trying to sleep. And if you're anything like me, that means many nights spent laying awake, thinking about things you could still be working on.
So annoying! Plus, when this happens, I'm even more tired the next day, which drastically lowers my productivity.
If this all sounds familiar to you, here are a few things you can do to shut down your "work brain" before you go to bed.
1. Move away from your screens.
About 30 minutes (or more) before you're ready to hit the sack, shut down your computer, your tablet, your phone, and even your TV. Staring at these brightly colored, flashing screens can actually stimulate your brain and cause you to be more awake and alert. So move away from your screens… and move on to #2 below!
2. Create a bedtime routine.
I know, this sounds like something only kids should need, but a simple bedtime routine works wonders in helping you shutdown (mentally and physically) at night. It could be as simple as taking a quick shower, brushing your teeth, and reading for 15 minutes. The key is doing the same thing every night in an effort to train your body and your brain to relax and get ready to go to bed.
3. Read leisurely.
Reading is one of the quickest ways for me to wind down — but only if it's leisure reading. If I'm reading something research-related or something for my blog or business, I get more ideas and suddenly feel the need to get back over to my desk.
So while reading is usually a fool-proof way to help me shut down the work part of my brain before bed, I do have to be careful what I read!
4. Make a list.
This is by-far the most important thing for me — it's part of my bedtime routine (see #2 above) and I honestly do it every single night. After I turn off my computer and other screens, I sit down with my planner and go over everything I need to do the following day — meetings, appointments, deadlines, errands, phone calls, etc.
Then I write it all down. ALL of it!
If I don't write it down, it stays trapped in my brain and I keep mulling it over after I go to bed thinking, "don't forget _____", and "remember to do ______ tomorrow". However, after I get it all down on paper, my brain is lighter and I know I don't have to worry about forgetting anything.
5. Don't take your work to bed… literally!
Unless you're home sick and working to meet a deadline with absolutely no wiggle room, I feel strongly that there is no reason to take your work into your bed… or even into your bedroom. Work on the couch, at the kitchen table, outside, or in your car — but not in your bed.
Not only does working from bed encourage late nights and early mornings, it also makes it almost impossible to do any of the other things I've listed above!
If you have the type of job that you can do from home, realize that while it might be super convenient at times (believe me, I know how wonderful it is to work from home) it can also take a toll on you physically and mentally.
Make a conscious effort to limit the hours you spend working late at night and instead, spend a few minutes preparing yourself for bed. Your family (and your sanity) will thank you!