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Be Connected: Developing an end-of-day 'shutdown' ritual

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Human Resources

City of Boston employees have shown incredible resilience adjusting to an unfamiliar work environment, but we’re still grappling with the impact it’s had on our lives. We put this post together to help you transition between work life and home life at the end of the day.

You may not realize it, but transitioning from one part of life to another takes energy. Work and home require vastly different kinds of energy, and that transition takes a bit of time. Our brain has to stop and shift gears into a new mode. 

If you’re working from home, you may find it difficult to switch off at the end of the day. After all, your home office is always there, readily accessible for you to slip in and do more work. The key to maintaining work-life balance as a remote worker is creating and sticking to a “shutdown ritual” for the end of each work day. 

What is a shutdown ritual?

A shutdown ritual is a set routine of actions that you perform at the end of each work day to finalize your day and signify that your work day is done. The important thing here isn’t what you do, but that you do something to replace the routine of wrapping up, leaving the office, and traveling home at the end of the day, every day. 

Here are a few tips to create your own shutdown ritual for the end of the work day: 

  • “Close down” your workspace. A home office with a door is ideal, but if you don't have that option, consider instituting a daily desk-clearing policy that helps you say: "My work is done. I'll start again tomorrow."
  • Turn off your computer and email notifications. Do this and you'll be far less tempted to "just peek" at your work email.
  • Do a "Fred Rogers." On his kids' TV show, Mr. Rogers switched from jacket and dress shoes to sweater and sneakers, and you can do the same. Change into "play clothes" to signal to yourself that work is over, or choose some other symbolic ritual — repeat a comforting mantra, play a special song ("Closing Time" by Semisonic, perhaps?), take a hot shower, do a couple push-ups or jumping jacks, whatever you can think of to officially mark the end of your work day.
  • Ease into your personal time with a transitional activity. Avoid throwing yourself immediately into household chores after your work-from-home workday. A peaceful activity at the end of your day will help you retrain your brain to focus on relaxation and family. Try walking the dog, taking your kids to the park, reading an article or a book for pleasure, calling up a friend or family member just to chat, whatever activity brings you peace. 

Be creative — your shutdown ritual should be something you look forward to each day. It’s like putting a bookmark in your work day so you can resume tomorrow feeling recharged and renewed. 

Looking for more ways to empower your employee experience? Visit the Be Connected page for additional employee resources, tools, and tips.

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