Detaching from work– defined as mentally and physically disengaging from work during off-hours – is an important prerequisite to effective daily recovery and psychological well-being. However, the extant literature has yet to articulate exactly why some employees fail to detach from work and, furthermore, offers few concrete recommendations on how to increase detachment on a daily basis...This study proposes that employees' minds continue to linger over goal-related content after the workday is finished. Consistent with a self-regulatory perspective, employees had more difficulty detaching from incomplete (vs. completed) work goals later in the day. An experiment demonstrated that creating plans to resolve incomplete goals increased psychological detachment among employees with traits that chronically inhibit detachment.
Here are more details about what they discovered:
- Creating plans at the end of the day that describe where, when, and how unfulfilled work goals will be completed is an effective, low-cost intervention that enhances psychological detachment among employees, which will ultimately improve occupational health and performance. My interpretation is leave yourself notes how to jump in the next day.
- The planning intervention was primarily effective among employees who typically have difficulty detaching from work during leisure time, indicating that intervention efforts should be targeted at specific types of employees. My interpretation of this is you have to have discipline to make this work.
- When setting daily work goals, employees should be encouraged to focus on smaller, concrete goals at the end of the day in order to reduce unfulfilled work goals and facilitate psychological detachment. My interpretation is be clear what your realistic priorities are each day.
Well, this sounds like project management to me! Just last weekend, I left with a giant project very undone to spend the weekend with family. I did create markers for where I was and what needed to be done and it did make it easier to put it out of my mind and return to it on Monday. It also jump started by restart. How can you practice these time / project management disciplines with your team to help them detach? Our new release of the Project Management for Trainers book might help here.