Not being able to ‘switch off’ in the evening or over the weekend, is a problem that many people share. Given how hard many of us work, it seems particularly unfair that so many of us continue to think about work when we are no longer there.
Here I want to provide my top three tips to help you switch off and consequently get your free time back.
This one has to be top of the pile. Consider the following questions:
- Did you check your phone before you got out of bed this morning?
- Will you be on the same device in the last hour before you go to bed?
- How many times do you think you unlock your phone on a typical day?
Often the reason we feel we can’t switch off is simply because we never give our brain a chance! The continual and partial use of your attention is not only preventing your brain from switching off, it’s also training your brain to be distracted. You never fully switch on, and so you never fully switch off.
Start to create a more conscious relationship with your tech – not just your smartphone, but all devices, including your laptop. Charge your phone out of the bedroom. Turn your ‘alerts’ and notifications off, and check your email less. Put your phone away when you’re with other people. Monitor your use of your phone and the particular apps on it, and if you find you use any of them more than you’d like, change your behaviour.
2. Do a weekly ‘brain sweep’
I’ve mentioned this technique in previous articles (e.g. How to improve your focus, step 2), as it has multiple benefits. It is particularly useful to help you switch off. The key principle is to clear your mind regularly and to keep it empty.
Here’s what to do. Once per week get a pen and paper (or a note taking app or device) and empty your mind of tasks, to-do’s, errands, and anything else that may be distracting you.
For more information on how to do a brain sweep, go to manage internal distractions.
3. Switch ‘on’ to something fun
Rather than thinking about switching off, instead entirely switch on to doing something that you love – something that you can immerse yourself in. I feel the term ‘switching off’ is rather passive. If what we are trying to achieve is time not thinking about work, then dedicate a slot of your time to doing something that demands your full attention. For me, it’s producing music, but reading fiction also works well. Maybe for you it’s cooking, exercising vigorously, or going for a hike. Make more time for these things – and give them your full attention. By doing so you will find it easier to switch off, and you’ll most likely be happier too.
Best of luck,
3 point review:
- Do a weekly brain sweep
- Switch on to something fun