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4 Tips to Help Keep Work at Work


The main cause of stress for many people is their workload, and physicians are no stranger to this. An overburdening workload can not only help to ruin your productivity at work but also negatively impact your home life. In order to work towards a proper balance of the two it's best to try and keep work at work. Here’s 4 tips to do just that.

Unplug at home

According to the American Institute of Stress 46% of American workers reported that their workload is the main cause of their stress. Stress that can follow you home and affect your social and family life in negative ways, and sometimes vice versa. Which is ultimately why finding a proper balance is crucial to both your social life and productivity at work, and that balance starts by doing your best to leave work at work. Here are just a few ways to make yourself more productive at the office and able to step away from the desk when the day is over. We live in an age where you’re never really away from the proverbial desk, in fact, with the push of a button or touch of a screen you’re back and connected to your email or work documents from just about anywhere you have an internet connection. This makes the urge to answer a work email and go down an unwanted rabbit hole easier to indulge.

lifestyle stress balance work home life choices

Communicate when you’re in a bind

Unless it’s an absolute emergency, it’s best to not indulge these impulses but that’s hard when screens are an everyday part of our lives. This makes the only solution to unplug while you’re at home. Take the time to set up a do not disturb on your phone or setting to limit screen time for the hours you plan on taking to yourself and your family. Walk away from your computer when you can and fill your free time with activities that don’t require an internet connection of any sort. Read a book, see a movie with your family, go for a walk, etc. just make sure you’re unplugged and staying present.While there are many ways to try and make yourself more productive there are times where it’s simply too much, and that’s ok. Learn to recognize when you might be in over your head and communicate to your manager or team member that you could use some help.

Set a finish line and stick to it

It is also important to recognize when you have the choice to say no. No one wants to be that person that doesn’t take on their share of the load, but no one wants to have to do all the work by themselves. By saying no to tasks, you feel can be handled elsewhere you can free up space to tackle larger challenges and keep your plate from overflowing.Before you head off to work for the day set a firm time of when your work day is going to end. If you work on an hourly basis then this is easier, if that isn’t the case then it can become very easy to lose track of the day. Not only will working overtime when it isn’t needed cut into potential free time you have at home with your family, but also can run you down and cut into future productivity.

Take your breaks

Now a finish line doesn’t have to be for any specific project, just for when the day ends, and you leave the office. Setting this finish line will allow you to help create a boundary between home and work as well as provide motivation throughout the day to stay focused. If you know you have to leave by five instead of lingering till six, then you’ll make sure to get everything done within your time limit. Just make sure not to put too much pressure on this finish line in the case you have to be flexible and stay late or didn’t hit everything on your to do list. It’s supposed to help not to hinder. Every once in a while, it’s good to take a break, breaks are built into most work situations and it’s best to utilize them when you can. It’ll allow you to fuel up, take a breather, and reset yourself for the rest of the tasks ahead of you. If you keep pushing through every item on the to do list without stopping, you’ll find yourself moving slower by the end of the day and potentially suffering later on.

Now, sometimes a non-stop day is unavoidable but string too many of those days in a row and you will be looking at a decrease in productivity and energy at home. Even if you feel pressured not to take a break go ahead and take that break, just a short moment to collect yourself can mean all the difference in the world to your health and the patients you see.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice