Knock-off time: What successful people do after work

How you spend your time outside of work – and who you spend that time with – is a defining factor in your career trajectory. As tempting as it may be to binge-watch Netflix with a bottle of vino on hand, the hours after work are just as important as the time you spend at work.

Successful people know they need to relax, eat well, exercise regularly and plan ahead if they want to bring their A game to the office every.single.day.

With 168 hours in the week – minus the 40 you spend at work – you have about 128 hours left in the bank to sleep, eat, and do whatever the heck you want. But if you want to succeed in your professional life, you have to use your personal time wisely.

In no particularly order, we’ve mapped out five ways successful people spend their time after work.

Now you know these not-so-secret methods, it could be time for a new post-work ritual!

They plan ahead:

Rocking up to work frazzled because you have no idea what your calendar looks like for the forthcoming day is not a good look. To ensure you’re ready for tomorrow, take a few minutes to review your diary and make a to-do-list every night. If you have a morning meeting, pack your briefcase with everything you need the night before, such as business cards, iPad and brochures, and don’t forget to check you have the name, phone number and address of the person you’re meeting.

They keep fit:

Ambitious people tend to excel in all areas of life, and that includes rocking a tight rig!  In all seriousness, people who work out are more alert, focused and energised, meaning they get more bang for their workday buck. Following a consistent fitness regime can also boost your creativity, confidence and resilience, both personally and professionally. Another upside of regular exercise is that it strengthens the immune system and helps keep you healthy so you have less sick days. After all, you can’t win employee-of-the-month if you’re always at home nursing a cold!

They chillax:

While most successful people seem to live and breathe work, in reality, the most successful people work hard at their career but then leave the office behind. They recognise the importance of spending time with their family and friends, hitting the gym and getting a good night’s sleep. This self-awareness keeps them from suffering burnout and becoming resentful if their career becomes all-consuming.

They unplug:

Much like the above-mentioned point, being ambitious doesn’t mean you can’t switch off. In fact, more and more people are choosing to spend their weekends and holidays on a “digital detox” – meaning no emails, no social media and definitely no Wi-Fi. Technology tends to dominate our lives nowadays, but highly successful people know that it’s essential to unplug from time to time too.

They self-invest:

Whether it’s a leadership course, an acting workshop or a certification in your field, ambitious people know that by investing in themselves, they will become a more well-rounded and successful professional. On the other hand, successful people also look for inspiration in unlikely places. Immersing yourself in a unique experience activates your brain in new ways and can lead to a burst of creative genius.

In summary, it’s important to recognise productivity doesn’t end when you clock off. You just need to get the balance right and ensure you’re being productive in other areas of your life – ultimately paving the way to a kick-ass career!

Unplugged: How to switch off from work

Work is an important part of our lives; after all we do spend 40+ hours a week doing this very thing.

There’s no doubt that the nature of our work environment is changing too – it’s becoming increasingly high pressure, deadline-driven and demanding.

This is compounded by the fact that pretty much everyone has a smart phone and can access their work emails anywhere, anytime.

As a consequence, we’re mentally chained to our desks 24/7, in a competitive marketplace where we feel compelled to respond right.this.minute for fear of not working hard enough.

While Nazi Germany might have wanted us to believe “work sets you free”, a growing body of research shows our inability to find a balance between work and play is having a serious impact on our physical, mental and emotional state of being. Overwork has been linked to a whole swag of health problems including heart disease, fatigue, depression and insomnia.

Next time you’re feeling frazzled after work, take these steps to get you into a state of Zenned-out bliss:

Habitual ritual

By creating a ritual of relaxation when you arrive home from work, you’ll train your mind to slow down and switch off from work mode. Having a shower and putting on your trackies when you get home signals to the brain that you’ve finished for the day, and now it’s time to chillax. Light candles, avoid loud sounds and if meditation’s your thing, do it!

Save the screen

While a lot of people use TV as a way to unwind, if you stare at a computer screen all day you’re actually not doing yourself any favours by watching tellie. A better way to forget the chaos of the working day is to take Fido for a quick spin in the fresh air, or better yet, hit the gym!

Use it and lose it

If you confiscate your kids phones at the dinner table, extend the “use it and lose it” policy to all members of the family (yes, that includes you!). Unless you’re on-call, get into the habit of switching off your work phone after work, or at least your emails, and never take your phone to bed. If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night worrying about the next day’s duties, experts recommend getting up and doing something else until you feel sleepy again.

All about the breath

As Bikram would say, focus on the breath. Deep breathing is one of the most successful tools for switching off because it naturally calms the body. Whenever your mind wanders back to the office, focus on the sensation of the breath as air enters and leaves your lungs.

Go green

Highly processed, fatty foods can agitate the body, as can a big meal right before bed. Snack on nuts, which are packed with cortisol-busting magnesium. For dinner, pack your plate with green leafy vegetables. Dark leafy greens such as spinach are rich in folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. Drinking black or green tea instead of coffee is thought to reduce stress hormones too.