December 15, 2021

How to Disconnect from Work

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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Whether it’s holidays or an upcoming vacation, you may struggle with completely disconnecting from work.

I’m not talking just leaving the physical space and shutting down your laptop but mentally and emotionally disconnecting from work.

So that you can be present and enjoy your time away from work without guilt, listen to this episode on how to disconnect completely.  This is work/life balance on steroids.

What You’ll Learn

Strategies to take a break from work without guilt

How to be present at home and still feel like you crushed all of your work tasks

The 3 types of disconnection and why they matter

Featured in This Episode

Emotions Acceptance Meditation
Holiday Meditation

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Welcome to Navigating your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you.

I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence.

Let’s get started.

Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy that you’re here with the holidays upon us. I wanted to do a quick episode with some tips for how to disconnect from work, because I know with shutdowns and vacations, you’re probably looking forward to it, but it can be hard mentally and emotionally when you know you have so much to do when you have maybe employee issues or stressors, and it’s hard to just let it be. So for the purpose of today, I’m going to focus on mental and emotional boundaries and ways to disconnect because you’re physically out of the office.

You’re physically on vacation. So this isn’t a matter of shutting down your computer. It’s about allowing your mind to take a break from the stressors of work. You can really be present and focus on your family, on your friends, on yourself, on your rest in your downtime, because that is so important. So the goal of disconnecting is for you to be able to be present in each moment that you’re in. When you’re at work, you’re present and crushing it. And when you’re at home, you’re present there, too.

And if you’re having a hard time with disconnecting, try the strategies I’m going to talk about today. So first, let’s talk about how to disconnect mentally. So here’s an exercise that you can try. Grab a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center on the left side. Make a list of all of the things that you have to do that are weighing on your mind that you’re just struggling to let go of. Now on the right side, next to each item brainstorm what you would have to do to be able to leave that item and feel it peace with it until you get back from your time off.

So, for example, you have a presentation that you have to deliver the first week of January. Maybe what you have to do is create an outline of the presentation before you go on break so that you’re clear on what you’re delivering at a high level and aren’t scrambling when you get back. Maybe that will give you the peace of mind. If you have to finish a report, maybe you schedule time the first week you’re going back to work on it, or maybe you get a certain number of sections done before you go.

The goal here is to get it out of your head and on paper and to come up with a plan for what you’ll do, because this will help ease your mind when it’s in your head, it can seem bigger than what it is. And like an impossible problem to solve a problem of just too much. And then you’re not allowing yourself to take the break that you need and really enjoy it. And when you write it down, it’s tangible, it’s neutral, and it’s just a problem to solve.

When you brainstorm what you can do, you aren’t just leaving. It an open item fluttering through the sky. Instead, you have a plan. You addressed it, even if addressing it is writing it down so that you don’t forget after the holidays or scheduling time in your calendar for it so that, you know, you have dedicated work time to address whatever it is you need to get done. Or maybe you’re delegating some of your items. But you get to decide it’s just a problem to solve. And if you’re thinking everything on my needs list needs to get done, just needs to get done before I go on break, then look at it objectively and ask, Does it really?

Can you negotiate timelines if you don’t have enough time, can you delegate? The answer is yes. So if it literally is too much for you to do before you go out on break in an impossible deliverable, then if this is something that you’ve had adequate time to do and you drop the ball, you waited until last minute, well, then you might need to just work over time to get it done. If it’s something that isn’t the case, it really is just something that is just beating down on you.

It’s stressful. It was a last minute asked because that always happens. The end of the year. Everyone has their end of year goals and they’re trying to get in last minute, but they need other people to help them. And so the pressure gets on everybody. Then I want you to really consider how you can push back on that. How can you negotiate that timeline? A lot of times? What was important to the company when goals were created is not important. At the end of the year, things change.

So look at what help you can get what timelines you can negotiate, what support you might need to make it happen. And then when you have an accurate list of everything that actually needs to get done, then make a tangible action plan for it. I find this to be really helpful for my clients, because when it’s in your head, like I said, it’s just, oh my gosh, I have all these things to do, but when you even just writing it down, having a list having a plan of action for it is going to make you feel so much better.

Just give it a try. But the point is that you get to decide. So get that list out of your head and make that tangible action plan, and it’s going to help you disconnect mentally. Now, emotionally, let’s say you have a problematic employee issue or just feel it’s hard to just step away because your work is your identity and you don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re not working. And believe me, this happens to more people than you think. Some people they love that hustle of the job.

Then this is where I would add in some activity, some meditation, mindfulness exercises, journaling, do some work to really separate you from the problematic employee issue or whatever has you emotionally connected? There’s nothing you can do about it on vacation. Handle it to the best of your ability and work on your thoughts about it. What would you need to feel to be emotionally disconnected? What is drawing you in and how can you address it? You could put a timer on and give yourself five minutes to feel whatever you feel about the issue and then decide how you want to move forward.

I had an episode last month on meditation and how it can actually help advance your career and some resources that you can try to get started. So I would check that out. I also have a couple of actual meditations that I recorded for you on the podcast. So those are things that you can also try to help you emotionally release from whatever it is that is keeping you connected to work that you’re worried about, that you’re stressed about, that you’re feeling emotionally charged by now. If it’s an identity thing that you’re just loving the hustle of work, you’re not looking forward to Playdoh time, TV time baking and all the things that holidays can bring.

Then what I think would be helpful for you is to think of all of the things that you want to do, but you’re always too busy to do the books you’ve been wanting to read, something you wanted to organize, planning for 2022, maybe a new exercise or activity, something new you’ve been wanting to try and schedule that time in come up with all of the things that you say that you want to do, but you’re too busy and schedule those in during your downtime. It will make it feel more productive.

It’ll give time for you. You’ll be accomplishing something, but you’ll still have that break from work. All right. So give these strategies a try so that you can feel disconnected and feel the way that you want to on this holiday break, whatever holiday you’re celebrating. I hope it’s everything you want it to be, and I will talk to you here. Same time, same place next week.

I get asked all of the time. How do I know if I’m in the right career?


You can find out. I created a free quiz using my criteria for what makes a great job fit. You can take the quiz at my website, and in less than three minutes you’ll know the answer so you can stop guessing and take some action. And as a bonus, if your job isn’t a great fit, you’ll get some resources to help you decide what to do about it. Head there now.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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