A good friend of mine recently asked me a hard question. She and I met through a common previous employer years ago. We have continued to connect at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport when our paths (and flight plans) crossed, which was relatively often. We had both moved on from the common employer and were on the road a lot – almost weekly – for our current respective jobs. Remember the George Clooney character in Up In The Air? That was us. So it wasn’t all that uncommon for us to be passing through at the same time.
That all changed for me about a year ago, when my role at work changed and I was no longer traveling. But this friend . . . . she’s still on the road each week. She comes home on Thursday nights from her week on the road, yet it takes her a full 24 hours or longer to “unwind” from work mode to home mode. Just in time to have one “regular” day at home before she has to head out again. Her question to me was this – how did I unwind into weekend mode when I would come home from the road?
I had to really think about that. And I’m not sure I have a good answer. I decided to do some investigating to see if others have had the same issue and what they do about it. The first website I came upon with some suggestions was one I turn to often, Tiny Buddha. Here are ten tips they have for transitioning from work to weekend mode:
- End your work week well. Make sure you get the phone calls returned and emails sent off that you need to, so they don’t nag at you all weekend. Have your Monday planned out and whatever you may need for meetings first thing Monday morning all ready to go. In other words, tie up loose ends and plan for the week ahead before it gets here.
- Be specific. If you have to do work over the weekend, be very specific about what you need to get done, set a time-limit and stick to it. The key take away is to make sure you don’t get lost in the work and carried away and then poof. . . . the weekend is over.
- Tell people your plan. Your spouse. Your kids. Your friends. They’ll keep you honest. But more importantly, tell your co-workers. For some, they’ll think nothing of texting you a work question on Saturday night. If you’re worried about looking like you’re not responsive, let them know you’ll be taking a knee on work for a few hours. If that’s not an issue, then let yourself off the hook and make deal with yourself to return all correspondence that occurs over the weekend come Monday moring.
- Set up a pre-written text. This tip is related to the one above. If you have folks that don’t see any harm in texting you about work issues over the weekend, create a pre-written text (check with your phone manufacturer to see how to create such a thing). Perhaps something like, “I’m taking a text free weekend, so I’ll respond to your text first thing Monday morning.” And stick to it.
- Get others to help you. If you have a spouse or kids, ask them to help keep you focused on non-work tasks. Or enlist your friends. A movie out (or in). A day in the yard. A shopping trip to the mall. Having others to keep you accountable and busy will help you transition from work to fun.
- Make a “no list”. It’s hard to tell folks no. I get it. But if you entertain every request, you could end up spending your whole weekend on stuff you really didn’t want to do. My mantra on the weekends (in life, really) is, If it isn’t a “Hell Yes!” then it’s a no.
- Check in with yourself. It sounds simple, but sometimes just setting a quick alarm (I can do that on my FitBit, so it just vibrates to serve as a reminder) at a certain time or times during the weekend so you can take a quick inventory of where your head is and if you’re off in work land, you can pull yourself back to weekend mode.
- Remind yourself why we have weekends. You need this time to recharge your batteries so you can be a better employee come Monday. A Post-It note on your bathroom mirror can be a great reminder each morning that you deserve this break.
- Find something that relaxes you and do it each day. Think – a breathing exercise, yoga, mediation, a hot bubble bath, a crossword, a hike. Anything that relaxes you. I liked to use this technique just after getting home from a trip. But more on that in a minute.
- Plan your weekends well. That may sound counterintuitive at first. You’ve been planning things all week. But if you plan out what you want your weekend to look like, there’s less chance you’ll find yourself, or your mind, wandering off into work related stuff.
The ten tips above are great ones and would totally help keep someone focused on the feeling of “weekend’ over “work week”. But the question remains, how do you turn your mind form work to weekend to kick start the transition?
One of the best tricks I used to use, I turned into what I would call a ritual. I did this without fail and made it a habit. It was almost like a message to my mind that it was time to shut down work and turn on weekend. As soon as I would get home, I changed out of my work clothes, unpacked my suitcase (in that order) and then would sit and meditate for about 20 minutes. Just to get me calmed down and refocussed. If you are new to meditating, it’s not really anything more than sitting still for a little while and keeping your mind focused in one direction or on one topic. Omvana is a great app that’s available for your phone or iPad. They have several guided meditations of varying lengths to help you unwind and relax. Find one that resonates with you and make it a part your “transition ritual” every time you come home.
What do you do to unwind from work and get out of the go-go-go mindset? Tell me in the comments below. And you know what? You’re so welcome.