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Is your 5-9 Affecting your 9-5?

Updated: May 16, 2023

What we do at work matters. What we do after work matters, too. The time we spend outside of work can significantly impact how well we perform our daily duties. So how can we help our 9-5? Turns out, we have to maximize our 5-9.

During the work day, our brains are fiercely active. This results in our cognitive resources depleting as we work. Depending on the level of challenges you face in your position, you may carry lingering office clouds home with you as burdens. This contributes to those cognitive resources burning out much more quickly.

Our time spent at home should be spent repairing and restocking. Continuing to focus on our work calendar, answering emails, or reviewing projects, can prevent people from recovering valuable cognitive resources. When this becomes a consistent habit, these resources take longer to replenish.

“But isn’t our brain working all the time? How can we slow it down after work?”

If you are like other people, and mind-numbing TV isn’t for you, you may think this will be a challenge. But take your time to do some stimulating, non-work related activities. Work on a strategy puzzle or play a fast-paced video game. Though these activities require concentration and focus, they provide a break from work in the form of entertainment. Other suggestions include: exercise, sports, or social interactions with friends. If your friends are also your coworkers, set a boundary to not talk about anything work related, as that hurts our ability to “sufficiently detach”.

“But I work from home! How can I detach when I’m always available”

Separate your spaces. Designate a specific working space and a specific living space. Working from home may make you feel like you are spending more time connecting with your family. But don’t try to do both at the same time or in the same space. This juggle causes you to be not fully focused on either, which means both work and family will suffer.

Use your calendar to keep a consistent schedule. Let your coworkers know. This way they can be respectful of the hours you’ve set as “working hours” and hours you’ve set as “off hours”. During your “off hours”, use them as such. Don’t spend time planning for the next day, or checking those emails.

Plan out your top three priorities for the next day before you log off. This way you will know what you have to accomplish the next day and won’t be stressing about it all night, losing sleep. Sleep helps our brain repair those cognitive functions.

Make sure you disconnect from technology before you go to sleep. Our brains are weakest the first 30 minutes after we wake up and the last 30 minutes before we fall asleep, so work on getting good quality sleep and relax with a book or family time. Then we can put ourselves in the best position to accomplish everything we need for the following work days.

Take care of yourself. Not taking the time to repair our valuable cognitive resources can significantly hinder our productivity for the coming days.

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