This One Thing Will Help You Worry Less About Work

It’s hard to leave the office at the office, especially in a time where smartphones connect us to our personal planners and our email accounts. But science has shown that you should definitely leave the office when you leave the office.

A Kansas State University researcher found that detaching from work mentally, physically and electronically is invaluable to recovering from job-related stress, according to Science Daily. YoungAh Park, the professor behind the study, said that when people are dealing with too much job-related stress—and when they bring it home with them—it is more likely to affect their family life, relationship with their spouse and their physical health.

But, unfortunately, a new study published in the Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology found that people don’t like leaving work tasks incomplete, writes Real Simple. Employees are also more likely to ruminate on unfinished work once they’ve left the office, which can cause the physically- and socially-detrimental stress that Park found in his study.

There’s a simple way you can prevent this work-related worry from following you home, though. Write your unfinished tasks or work-related worries down on paper, and make a plan to defeat them.

Real Simple said that employees who did this were much better at detaching themselves from work. So, either make a digital or physical list at the end of your day or before the weekend. Write down everything you haven’t finished or just things that you’re generally worried about. Then, make a super obvious and simple plan for how you’re going to address each of those things.

to do list photo
Photo by Jayel Aheram

But I also suggest breaking it down sometimes. For example, if you have a huge project due in a week, then write down the first step of completing that project. It can be something as simple as “Contact X person from X department” about something related to the project. The big things on your “incomplete” list will seem more doable when they’re broken down into their smaller components.

You also might be worried about something that’s very far off in the future. If this is the case, then write that worry down and then write down a prospective date for when it would make sense to start that project or address that worry. That way you will have a mental and physical reminder that it’s simply not time to address that concern yet.

If you’re someone who just must be distracted from work or worry, then plan your distractions with your family or partner. The more excited you are about things outside of work, the less you’ll worry about the work itself. Plan to address those things so they don’t follow you home, but also plan to enjoy life outside of work.

Photo by Helga Weber