What do you do when the workday is over?
Do you crash down on the sofa, order a take-out, and fall asleep to the sound of your favorite TV show?
Do you have dinner with your family and friends? Do more work? Read a book?
And which of those would be considered “the right way to rest” as it were?
Well, it depends on what your definition of success is. In my books, a successful person thrives both professionally and personally, which means there must be a careful balance where those two lives intersect.
But how do you reach that balance? Let’s start with the basics. Here are the 9 things successful people never do after work.
1) They never work themselves into exhaustion
Look, the 40-hour workweek is already bad as it is. Working so many hours has been shown to decrease productivity rather than boost it, and if you work even more – that is, if you take your work home with you or do overtime every day – you might burn out pretty quickly.
And do you know what’s absolutely not conducive to success?
True success is sustainable. And in order to live a sustainable life, you’ve got to know when to lay work to rest.
That email can wait. The friend who really needs you can’t.
And speaking of friends…
2) They never neglect their relationships for the sake of career progression
If your definition of success is purely career-oriented, you may deprioritize your relationships to focus on your work life.
If you view success holistically, though, your relationships ought to be the most important aspect of your life. One of the longest studies on happiness ever conducted supports this – according to the Harvard researchers, positive relationships enhance our mental and physical health more than anything else.
Therefore, the best thing you can do after your workday is over is to spend some quality time with family and friends. Have a nice dinner, organize a board game night, go to the pub, or take your partner to the cinema.
Nurture your close relationships, and you’ll be successful in the areas of life that matter most: happiness and connection.
3) They never hover between work and rest
When you bring your work phone home and don’t silence your notifications, something happens: you’re not fully offline, but you’re not exactly working, either.
And while you might think there’s no harm in being available in case something happens, the truth is that lots of work calls and emails aren’t actually that urgent. Since you’ve already picked up the phone, though, you might just as well answer, which only leads you down the working route at nine in the evening.
There’s another reason why this is an issue. Rest is incredibly important. It’s when you recharge your batteries so that you can function at your very best the next day.
If you don’t properly unplug and fully relax, you only recharge to 50%. You can function alright, but your performance during the day is nowhere near as good as it’d be if you allowed yourself to decompress completely in the evenings.
When it’s time to rest, silence your phone. Draw a line between your professional and personal lives. Rest properly – with no distractions.
4) They never scroll on their phones for three hours
Speaking of distractions, there are good distractions that keep you engaged in a restful and fun way – such as hanging out with friends or reading a good book – and distractions that just create a void within you.
Social media falls in the second category. I’m not going to pretend I’m perfect and never scroll. That would be a complete lie.
But I do try to limit my time on social media. Apart from setting up timers on my phone, I also try to pay attention to when I’m on a specific app way too often and then take a digital detox from it for a bit.
Social media is fun and all, but to live a truly successful life, use it as a tool instead of letting it consume you. For example, I really like following body positivity and mindfulness-oriented influencers on Instagram because their content is actually helpful and applicable to my own life.
5) They never make important decisions
By the end of the workday, you’ve already made thousands of decisions. And I mean that quite literally. According to the data, an average American makes around 35,000 decisions per day.
That’s a hell of a lot.
And since decision fatigue is a thing – with every decision you make, your subsequent decisions decrease in quality – the last thing you should be doing after work is making even more important decisions.
If it can wait, leave it until tomorrow. You’ll have a much clearer head after a good night’s sleep.
There are other kinds of decisions you can make after work, though, which brings us to the next point…
6) They never not plan for the following day
My mom always says, “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”
There’s a lot of truth to that. If you wake up in the morning with no plan and direction, you’ll find it much more difficult to navigate the day ahead.
Similarly, it’ll be harder to make high-quality decisions when it truly matters because you’ll spend your morning deciding what to wear and what to have for breakfast.
Well, I say we turn it around.
Devote your evenings to preparation for tomorrow – pick out your outfit, prepare overnight breakfast, write a to-do list, and check your calendar – and spend your workdays focusing on big work-related tasks.
7) They never force themselves to play by the productivity rulebook
The time has come for me to tell you that you should scrape everything I’ve just told you and make your own rules.
Just kidding. It’s not that far from the truth, though.
Look, there’s a lot of productivity advice on the internet. And this advice can be incredibly helpful. The tip I’ve just given you about preparation? That’s helpful, right?
But only if it fits in with your lifestyle and personality. There are people out there who view picking their outfits as their favorite part of the morning. There are others who hate it and who could really benefit from implementing the piece of advice I’ve just written about.
To be genuinely successful, try applying different productivity tips to your life and see what sticks.
We’re all different, after all, and while waking up early or exercising first thing in the morning might work for Kyle, it could be a complete nightmare for Tessa.
Trial and error. That’s how you find your optimal state of being.
8) They never have arguments with zero resolution before bed
If you get into an argument with your partner, you might think that sleeping on it is the best idea.
But for some people, that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to psychology, anger can build overnight, and what’s more, your brain might build a closer link between negative feelings and the specific memory it’s consolidating during sleep, which could only make it harder to come to a peaceful resolution the next day.
Not to mention that many people who are upset can’t fall asleep, tossing and turning for four hours and waiting for the morning to finally arrive. This depletes their energy and makes them even more irritable.
Remember how we spoke about how important positive relationships are?
Yeah. This is your cue to always reach some kind of resolution if you’ve had a disagreement with your loved ones before you go to sleep.
Even if you’re not yet ready to properly discuss the issue, you can still reassure the person you’ve fallen out with and tell them that you intend to solve this when you feel better.
9) They (almost) never beat themselves up
You can’t be truly successful if your motivation comes from a place of shame or need for external validation rather than self-compassion and love.
You’ve just spent the whole day working. Sure, you might have made a couple of mistakes here and there. Sure, you may have not been at your best today.
But you’ve still accomplished a great deal.
The last thing you need right now is judgment or contempt. On the contrary, it is exactly kindness and compassion that will help you relax fully, give yourself some grace, and show up in a better mood tomorrow.
Everyone beats themselves up sometimes. Everyone has self-doubts. Everyone has bad days.
But true success is the ability to forgive yourself, give yourself the love you need, and move on. True success is being your best friend.
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