Does your work have an adverse effect on your personal life?

You’re not alone.

In the US, a survey by the American Psychological Association found that 70% of managers think work-related stress has a negative effect on their home lives. Which in turn impacts their work-life balance.

One of the biggest challenges for the modern employee is switching off after work and ignoring the calls and emails that keep coming in.

This problem is usually more pronounced for entrepreneurs and business owners, who may feel a need to answer every call and respond to every email immediately. Senior managers and individuals in positions of significant responsibility are likely to share this belief and may struggle to switch off at all.

Switch off to reduce stress

You can never recover from the stress of a busy, demanding day if you never stop working.

When we’re busy, many of us remain in a state of low-level stress. This helps us remain alert and keeps us firing on all cylinders. But this heightened state of awareness can’t go on forever. We need to switch to a more relaxed state so that we can unwind and enjoy ourselves – and the people around us.

If you’ve ever struggled to play with your kids after work, it could be that you haven’t switched from your work-state.

Psychologists recommend finding ways to encourage a transition from work to home mode. Using exercise, music, hobbies or time outdoors to clear your mind of work and create space for the rest of your life to occupy your thoughts.

For some people, the commute home is enough to shake off thoughts of work and prepare to be more relaxed.

Create barriers

Having got out of work mode, it’s important to remain in home mode. But this is difficult to achieve when we all carry mobile phones, which inevitably buzz with notifications, messages and calls relating to work.

If you have a different phone for work, then it helps to get in the habit of leaving it switched off and out of sight. Leave it in your work bag and don’t switch it on until you’re in the office – or at least on the train to work.

You may think you owe it to your employer – or your own business – to remain contactable at all times, but, this connectedness can be unhealthy for you and damaging to your personal relationships.

And while you may think that answering emails and calls at midnight tells your colleagues and clients that you’re dedicated, many people will think you’re a workaholic who needs to take a break. Clients and colleagues typically respect boundaries – and the professionals who enforce them. Instead of developing a reputation as a relentless workaholic who never switches off, why not cultivate a reputation for being a hard-working but principled professional who insists on maintaining their own space and time?

Switch off and divert all calls

Switching off your phone and avoiding intrusion into your home life doesn’t have to mean missing out.

Today, it’s easy to move calls to an answering service. So that all calls are answered and recorded by a person – without any intrusion into your life. You get a better work-life balance, but your customers and clients still get a professional service and an immediate response.

And an email auto-responder can remind people of your working hours so you can respond when you’re back at your desk.

How do you prevent work from creeping into every corner of your life?