How to switch off when working remotely

In this guest post, specialist legal job board TotallyLegal offers advice for Paralegals working remotely who are struggling to strike a work/life balance and switch off at the end of the day.

With a new national lockdown and an increasing number of Coronavirus cases in the UK, there’s no end of remote working in sight for many Paralegals.

93% of legal professionals have expressed desire to regularly work from home post-COVID, but despite this broad agreement about the benefits of being remote, separating life from work and switching off at the end of the day remains a challenge for many.

If you find yourself regularly working in your time off, checking emails while watching TV or overthinking about work when you’re trying to fall asleep, these 6 tips should help you learn how to switch off when working from home.

Create physical boundaries

Whilst not everyone has a dedicated office at home, after almost 10 months of remote working most Paralegals will have created a makeshift workstation in their bedroom, lounge or kitchen.

If you have been able to set up a desk exclusively for your work then that’s great, but if you’re working at the dining table, for example, you can help yourself to switch off and unwind by tidying up and putting away all your work equipment at the end of each day. Doing so will create physical, spatial boundaries that separate your work time and your leisure time – you’ll never be able to fully relax if your laptop is open and your notes are strewn about.

Top tip: wherever possible, avoid working in your bedroom, on your sofa or other places that you relax. This will help train your brain to know when it’s time to unwind.

Get in a routine

If you don’t yet have a remote working daily routine, now is the time to get into one.

If you get up, get dressed, have breakfast and start working at the same time every day, you’re much more likely to slow down and wrap up at the right time in the evening, meaning you’ll be able to switch off and enjoy yourself without having to worry about work.

Take regular breaks

Your routine should allow for regular breaks throughout the day. Think about it: in the office you wouldn’t sit at your desk all day without getting up for a coffee or to stretch your legs, so why should this be any different at home? For every couple of hours of solid work, take 10-15 minutes to disconnect.

It’s a great idea to get outside at lunchtime if you can. Even just a short walk around the block or to the local park to remove yourself from the work environment can help you to relax and then return to your tasks with a fresh perspective.

Literally switch off

To successfully switch off from work, you must physically switch off your computer. It’s no good trying to relax if your inbox is pinging in the background every ten minutes.

If you are fortunate enough to have an office at home – or at least a space dedicated solely to work – this will be easier. Simply leave your work equipment there overnight and close the door. 

Alternatively, if you are set up at the coffee table for example, shut down your laptop and pack it away. Without your computer switched on and in front of you, you’re much less likely to respond to emails or check how a project is coming along when you should be resting. Likewise, turn your work phone off overnight if you have one, or if you have your work emails on your personal phone, switch off notifications when you’re not working.

Make after work plans

With strict social distancing measures in place and all social venues closed, it’s hard to make plans at the moment, but having a reason to stop working at the end of the day might help you to switch off.

In the workplace, saying goodbye to our colleagues and running to catch the earlier train signify the end of the working day. At home, however, these signposts are virtually non-existent, making it all too easy to work late into the night.

The solution? Schedule something in at the end of each day to let your mind and body know that it’s time to stop working. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant - going for a walk, exercising, calling a friend or playing a board game with your family are just a few ideas that will help you unplug.

Committing yourself to plans – especially ones where others rely on you to show up – will force you to finish work and maximise your relaxation time.

Plan for tomorrow

Our final recommendation for a successful switch off and an evening of rest is to spend the last 10 minutes of your day assessing the progress you’ve made and planning your top priorities for tomorrow.

Checking in with yourself like this will force you to acknowledge all your outstanding tasks and their order of importance. In turn, your mind will be at ease with the assurance that nothing has been forgotten or missed, meaning you can relax and unwind before picking it up again tomorrow.
For more career advice and the latest Paralegal jobs, visit TotallyLegal today.

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