Sunday, 13 November 2011

Stem your 'work obsession'...

All work and no play...
Regular readers will know that because this Law Library gets so busy that at times,  it's very hard for this particular Law Librarian to switch off and put it out of my mind...However, a recent tip from Harvard Business Review explains the importance of taking time out and being able to put work out of your mind, even when things are at their most stressful:

It is of vital importance that you take some time out of every working day in order to get away from your desk and computer screen. This is something that I used to be very guilty of, but in recent months, I have been making a point - where possible - of leaving my desk for at least 20 minutes, if not longer, at lunchtime. It is all to easy to fall into a rut of eating at your desk while perhaps having a quick browse of the Internet, but it means that you don't let your brain switch off - and you return to whatever task is at hand not feeling rested, but tired and weary. If possible get some fresh air - or as HBR say, even just going to the gym gets you out of the office and refreshes your mind and brain a bit. Unless I am caught up in a time-sensitive piece of work, I always try to get away from it nowadays and I definitely feel the benefit of my 'time out' on my return to my desk.

While I don't tend to have much work to do in the evenings or at weekend - although it would be very easy to start doing bits and pieces at the weekend when you can login to work from the comfort of your sofa! But again this is something that I try and steer clear of doing as a rule, therefore I think it's of equal importance to allow your brain to switch off at these times too, and make a conscious effort not to think or discuss work-related problems/stresses. It can be quite difficult at times, but if you don't try hard to allow yourself this down time, it simply means that you return to work the next day, or Monday morning, feeling totally unrested and demoralised.

If all else fails, find a new hobby!
As HBR correctly point out, the less time you have outside of work to think about work, and login to that work email account, then the less likely you will be to focus on it to the point of obsession when you are at home! Always make time to do the things you enjoy. Again if I am worried about a piece of work, I struggle at times not to dwell on it, but I am aware of the benefits of forcing myself not to do this, and certainly not at the expense of doing things I enjoy!

The upshot is: if you find that you are beginning to eat, sleep and breathe your job - stop yourself right there, and make a conscious effort NOT to login from home, to bring in a book and get away from your desk at lunchtime, and above all remember that your mental and physical health should always be the priority...Burning out through stress is not an option!

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