Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Thanks to hard work and a lot of good luck, I’m privileged to have racked up over 30 years of experience in corporate leadership and business development. I’ve worked with tiny startups and huge corporations, and found every type of business has its own unique set of challenges. 

What those challenges have in common is the stress they create. Yes, in case you’re wondering, the stress weighs on you just as heavily whether you’re problem-solving for a firm of ten people, or a giant organization of over ten thousand. 

Stress is good. It wouldn’t even be a stretch to say that stress is at the very heart of survival. It signifies that your brain and body are synced, and motivates you to do your best. Learning to not only manage stress, but actually enjoy it, is actually your best bet at making it to the top of your chosen field, or being able to accomplish whatever it is you want in life. 

However, there’s definitely a such thing as too much stress, and it’s not healthy. Not only does it put you on the fast track to burnout, it can also seriously impair your body’s ability to fight off disease. Most of us probably know how it feels to have been overly stressed at one point or another, which leads to the following question:

How can you stop stressing about work after hours?

Why put the energy in if you’re not being paid, right? Sometimes, though, it doesn’t feel like it’s up to you. Here are three strategies you can use to put work worries in their place and enjoy your time off the clock:

1. Make a note of what you forgot to do 

We forget to do things. It happens to all of us, especially on a Friday evening when we’re eager to get the weekend started. So what do you do? Write it down — and paper is better than your phone. Make the mental decision to take care of it as soon as you punch in Monday morning, and that’s it — you’ve done all you can. 

2. Make a note of mistakes you’ve made

We mess up. All of us. The first order of business is to decide whether a mistake is fixable. If it is, then you already know what you should do — write it down, and resolve to make the fix ASAP when you’re back on the job. 

If it’s not something you’ll be able to fix and you’re already dreading the fact that your weekend will be ruined worrying about it, then ask yourself this: is there someone you should apologize to? If owning up will help with damage control, then make that call or send that message. Afterwards, try to accept there’s nothing else to be done — life will take its course. 

3. Jot down brilliant new ideas

This is the best kind of stress (obviously). A new idea you’re itching to share usually takes the form of a solution, rather than a problem. However, that itch is still a form of stress. It’s itches like these that keep our brains whirring instead of fading into sleep at night, and steal our focus from the weekend when we’re supposed to be relaxing. 

Want to take a guess at what I suggest you do in this situation? You guessed it — write it down, and plan a specific time of the week when you’re going to act on it or share it. 

Why writing things down matters

This isn’t lazy advice, it’s scientific. When we write things down, it accomplishes two major goals at once: it removes the thought from our consciousness, and it makes us more likely to remember it later

Of course, the benefits of writing are many and various, and don’t always have to do with work. But when work is the cause of stress that’s interrupting our personal life, pen and paper is often the best tool for remedying the situation.