Clocking out: The benefits of detachment

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Clock out time. The work day is over and the office is closed, yet your mind is still in full blown work mode.

Sound familiar?

Everyone has gone through this at some point. It can be so easy to get caught up in our daily errands and work responsibilities. In a competitive world where everyone feels compelled to go the extra mile, detachment may be viewed as carrying negative connotations. This makes switching off from work seem like an impossible mission.

But knowing how to detach is just as important for your productivity as knowing how to immerse yourself completely. Research has shown that when people fail to regularly detach themselves from work, it has dire consequences on their mental and physical well-being.

No one needs to tell you that such depletion can lead to a loss in motivation and productivity, right?

That is why we are going to explain how to go about clocking out physically and mentally.


All you need to know about cognitive detachment

Psychological detachment is conceptualized as the cognitive state of an absence of work-related thoughts and feelings. It is different from disengagement, which is more related to behaviors and attitude towards work.

On the one hand, not being able to detach can lead to burnout. But on the other hand, too much detachment can make it harder to get back into work mode. That is why, in order to increase one’s productivity, a balanced approach to detachment is needed. Not too little, not too much – just enough to help you clear your mind for your next professional projects and pursuits.

The best time to consider detaching is when you are in a situation of high stress, when you feel like you are heading into overdrive. When job demands are at their highest peak is when employees need to start engaging in post-work rituals to wind down and detach from job related thoughts.

Basically, what this means is that work needs to stay at work. Home time is not for planning for the next day’s meetings or following up on client emails. It is a time to refocus all your energy so you can be more productive when it is time to clock in again.

A few changes to your daily routines are called for in order to make full use of cognitive detachment.


How to stop thinking about work at home:

The first step to take is drawing out the boundaries between your professional life and your home life. The best way to do this is by focusing on your daily routine and establishing healthier lifestyle habits.

Sometimes, all we need to get back on track with productivity is to relax. Of course, telling someone to relax does absolutely nothing, so let’s expand on that. What we suggesting is for you to make the most out of everyday connections and activities.

It is really quite simple. All you need to do is consider the benefits of the following:

  • Social support from family, friends, and other networks. Never doubt the power of social interaction, as strong support networks can help greatly minimize stress. With emotional support, tangible help or information at hand, anyone is able to work through recovery.
  • Mental and physical relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and yoga are very beneficial. These will help you refocus, reversing the flight or fight response associated with anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
  • Engage in physical activities and creative hobbies. These need no further explanation. Both can greatly benefit both physical and mental health, and should be at the top of your list when it comes to detaching from a day’s worth of hard work.
  • On a similar note, don’t rule out the power of humor. Laughter really is the best medicine, with research suggesting that it can be beneficial to coping with stress. So, whenever you can, try to partake in activities that are bound to put you in a good mood – it can be hobbies, exercise, or any other form of light entertainment.
  • Take care of your sleep cycle. Remember, sleep deprivation and too much sleep can affect your mindset and performance in very negative ways. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the hours you put in, too, so make sure you’re getting a good night’s rest.


From daily routine changes to greater disengagement

While it is important to work on establishing a good daily routine to help you adequately clock out on a daily basis, at times it may not be enough for workers wanting to completely recoup and recharge.

Vacations can help in this regard. Research backs this up: The Farmingham Heart Study found that, in a sample of 12,000 men aged 35-57, the risk of a heart attack was cut by 32 percent when male employees took regular annual vacations. If it’s good enough for science, it should be good enough for us, too. Make sure to get the most out of your annual holiday leave, to help you disengage and return to the workforce with a fresh mind. Your mental health and your productivity will thank you for it.

A bit of self-reflection can help with mentally clocking out as well. Think about the reasons you are so caught up with work. Do you really need to work all those extra hours, or is it a matter of managing your time better? If the latter rings true, it may be time to consider weeding out any unnecessary tasks and devising strategies to make your work more efficient.

If you need an extra hand, remember to make the most out of your professional connections. A colleague or mentor at work can give you advice and support at a different level than from your personal connections. And the interaction can work both ways – like a reciprocal team debriefing, but for self-reflection and self-improvement.

Remember, you are more than your job. Your personal successes outside of the office space count as much as career progression does. Detachment should not be viewed as a negative point, but as an asset to your productivity, in and out of the workplace.

So, sign out and come back with a fresh set of eyes. Trust us, it will truly make a difference.

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Amos Tay

Amos Tay

I have over 10 years’ experience in the Logistics and Transportation industry working both as an in-house HR professional as well as an external recruiter. I have a Gallup CliftonStrength certified coach. Connect with me for your next Logistics & Supply Chain hiring role.

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