Oct 9, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

If you’re a recent MBA grad then you know: your first job after graduation is often a demanding one—sometimes even more demanding than your MBA program. How do you disconnect and recharge?   Let’s take at six strategies that will help you forget about your job when you’re not working.  

1. Make a weekly plan

Think of it as frontloading your week so that you can work in when you’re working and for how long. What will this lead to? Blocking off time to take a break and relax. When you schedule your busy days and times, schedule your downtime, too.  

2. Avoid work-related activities during your commute

You’re never going to finish the pile of work you have. What does this mean? It means you can take work home with you—which we don’t advise—or you can leave it for the following day. Why? You’ll be able to go home, enjoy your evening get some rest, and return to work the following day.   Guess what? That one last email or one last check box isn’t going to change much the next day.   Read a book, look out the window, listen to some good music, ride a bike—do something to start relaxing on your way home.  

3. Have a ritual when you come home

This should not include checking your email. Pick something to do that will help you clear your mind and detach from work the minute you walk in the door. Like to run? Lay out your running clothes the night before so that when you get home, all you have to do is change. Like to cook? Leave your favorite cookbook out. Find anything you enjoy and find relaxing, and make it part of your daily ritual.  You won’t regret it.  

4. Keep your promises

If you’ve made dinner plans, keep them. If you promised to help with homework or tutor, keep your arrangement. Why? First, you disappoint those to whom you’ve made a promise. Secondly, although you feel too tired or too annoyed with work to focus on the new task, you might just enjoy it.   Have courage—do what you say you’re going to do.  The only time you can bow out? If you’re sick—and don’t lie about it either.  

5. Disconnect

Simply unplug your devices. If you can’t, shut off your internet when you get home. Looking for something in-between? Log out of your email and social media accounts so that it’s harder to log back in.   Charge your devices in a room where you don’t sleep. Delete social media apps from your phone.   If you can’t be in the same vicinity as your devices for fear of connecting, then leave.   While you can’t leave all night most nights, make a point of spending at least one or two hours per day, entirely device-free. Go for a walk. Have coffee with a friend. Talk to a neighbor. Read an old-fashioned book.   You’ll feel better.  Trust us.  

6. Treat your time outside of work as sacrosanct

That is, it is an irreplaceable and necessary part of your day. It is not optional. If you look at time away from work as an imperative, you’ll have an easier time doing it.   Why? You need to protect yourself from overwork. What happens when you’re overworked? You burn out. And when you burn out, you lose the passion and vision that got you started in the first place.   Find the thing—or things—that you enjoy doing, and make them necessities. Go back to #1 and schedule them in your week.  

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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