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End the work day with honorable closure

Achieving work-life balance can be difficult. The line where work ends and what’s next is increasingly blurry. This is amplified with virtual or hybrid work and always-on technology. We have email and message notifications on our phones with offices that double where we live, eat and sleep. The lack of separation not only affects our wellbeing it also affects job performance. Productivity can increase along with feelings of joy and a decrease in stress when people have balance. Plus we feel more engaged and valued when time out of the office is truly treated as such.

One way to bring more balance into your work-life is to tap into mindfulness and create an end-of-day honorable closure practice. Why honorable? Because we recognize we did our best without judgement. Why closure? Because we can’t change the past. Building this routine provides sense of presence, purpose and contentment with life.

Like most new habits, start slowly to avoid overwhelm and experiment with what works for you. Here are some suggestions to get started.

  • Carve out 5-10 minutes to fully shift from work to home life. Transition consciously rather than on auto-pilot.

  • Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and review how the day went.

  • Note your biggest contribution to your work day, in your mind or write it down.

  • Recognize, then let go of, anything you wish had gone differently or unfinished tasks. Remember tomorrow is a new day.

  • Give yourself permission to shut off. Technology (and guilt) create feelings of always needing to be available. Yet studies show working over 40 hours a week can yield neutral or even negative results in quality and quantity.

  • Practice being present. When you are at work, be all there. When you are out of work, be all there.

A practice of honorable closure helps us leave work at work. It can transform a negative mindset of what went wrong yesterday to adapting and improving tomorrow. Allowing yourself the proper time to recharge boosts creativity, patience, focus and overall attitude. Plus being fully present to enjoy personal relationships and hobbies outside of the office.

Need an extra boost to build the practice? First, create a routine that works for you. Set the intention and know why you want an end-of-day honorable closure practice. Put the time in your calendar or set an alarm to remind yourself. Try listening to ambient music, have paper handy and get as comfortable as possible. Think about location - your desk, the beginning or end of your commute, inside or outside. Experiment with temptation nudging, something enjoyable added to a new routine. Perhaps a piece of chocolate with your honorable closure?

Understand new routines don’t happen overnight. This may not stick right away or need modifications to become effective. Be prepared for challenges and give yourself a break. Practice self-compassion, release self-judgement and be open to what works. With time, you may have new ways to end your work day, be more present for your home life and find balance.

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