How to Reattach to Work Each Day

These days, professionals who haven’t written or responded to after-hours work emails or texts are probably few and far between. In recent decades our ever-faster, better ability to connect with others around the globe has given rise to constant connectivity — which has come to mean that many people are never not working. Enter the backlash: “right-to-disconnect” legislation, well-publicized research into the ill health effects of responding to off-time correspondence, and company policies banning post- and pre-work-hours communication. More and more, we’re being encouraged to ‘check it at the door’ at the end of each workday. 

However, a study published in March of 2019 found that workers’ ability to “reattach” — that is, rebuild “a mental connection to work” after a period of non-work — was closely linked to positive work outcomes throughout the workday. 

So in order to have a healthy work-life balance and remain successful in our careers, we need to learn to leave work at work — but then pick it back up seamlessly the next day. Is this even possible?

In a word, yes. It’s not easy, but like other delicate harmonies, it can be achieved. So keep trying to maintain a division between your work time and your personal time; you can still successfully reattach every day. Below, we give you our top three tips for reattachment.

Make the most of your mornings 

“[R]eattachment to work in the morning predicts work engagement during the day,” write the authors of the study, Morning Reattachment to Work and Work Engagement During the Day: A Look at Day-Level Mediators, published in Journal of Management. “Reattachment to work may already start when still at home (e.g., when thinking about specific tasks that need to be done or when discussing the upcoming workday over breakfast with one’s spouse). It can occur during the commute (e.g., when mentally simulating a difficult conversation with one’s supervisor while sitting on the train) or upon arrival at work before actually starting to work (e.g., when mentally running through one’s to-do list while standing in line for a coffee).” 

So make the most of your pre-work time by properly preparing yourself for the workday ahead. Start the night before by heading to bed early enough; for the best mental clarity each day, try to get between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. 

When you wake, despite wanting to grab a cup of coffee first thing, pour yourself a glass of water. The hydration will give you a mental boost.

Compose a daily priorities list

No matter how much of a go-getter you are, there are only so many hours in a day, and only so much time you can — or want — to spend at work. So before you dive in, organize your top ‘ to-dos’ for the next eight to nine hours. Do it on a piece of scrap paper, your phone, wherever — just keep the list close by and check items off as you do them. Make sure the actions you put down are both feasible and sufficiently ambitious.

If you manage people, consider grabbing a cup of tea or breakfast (on the company) with members of your team every so often so you can do a sort of in-person version of a to-do list. Find out what’s on your employee’s plate that day and find out how you might help, whether it be with organization, delegation, or other aid. 

Get reacquainted with your purpose

“[E]ngaged employees are vigorous (i.e., they feel energetic, persistent, and are willing to invest effort into their work), dedicated (i.e., they are enthusiastic, feel inspired, and perceive meaning in their work), and absorbed (i.e., they are fully immersed in their work),” according to the authors of the study. Get to the source of your own engagement and reattach more easily each day by recalling what it was about your job that first drew you to it. Perhaps it was the organization’s unique mission, its charismatic, inspiring CEO or its flexible, family-comes-first culture. Whatever it was, try to remember why you connected with it and remember that your work helps further it, every day. 

What if you are attached to your work, but feeling disconnected with your office space? If you’re looking for flexible, affordable, convenient workspaces in and around the nation’s capital, look no further than Metro Offices, the leader in shared, temporary, and virtual office space in the area for more than 25 years. Browse our locations today.

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