Don’t Let Work Follow You Home by Making Time and Space for Unfinished Tasks

If you find it difficult to disconnect at the end of the day, you are not alone. Most of us have a habit of putting off the work day until later. To prevent this from happening, assign a specific place and time for unfinished business.

This advice is based on research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology . The study involved more than 100 employees with 1,127 different goals. Unsurprisingly, the study found that it was difficult for employees to get distracted from the work in progress at the end of the day. Most of us have been there: there is a problem that we could not solve, and although it may wait, we cannot stop thinking about it, so we take it home or stay in the office later than we would like.

To combat this, researcher Brandon Smith asked subjects to assign specific times and locations for their unfinished tasks. For example, “Send an email when I get to my desk at 9:00 am tomorrow morning.” In doing so, the study concluded:

Making plans at the end of the day describing where, when and how unfulfilled work goals will be met is an effective and inexpensive intervention that reinforces employee mental detachment, which ultimately improves occupational health and productivity.

In other words, fleshing out the action helped employees stop thinking about unfinished business outside of business hours. This is a little research, but the concept makes sense and is easy enough to try if you find it difficult to leave work at work. For more information, follow the links below.

Successful Leaving Work at Work: The Self-Regulating Foundations of Psychological Detachment | Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology through the British Psychological Society


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