Step Away from the Jammies: Our Making the Most of Your Time After Work|
Some days, I get home from work and have the urge to swaddle myself in a Snuggie and watch Modern Family on Hulu. Correction: most days I have this urge (I also own the boxed set of Modern Family).
Though I can’t get enough of Phil Dunphy’s unending failure to be a cool dad, I miss out on worthwhile activities whenever I get home from the office and plop down on my couch to giggle at a fictional character’s social ineptness. My time would be much better spent productively- catching up with a friend over dinner or drinks, huffing and puffing on a treadmill, or working on the standing collection of essays that will one day cement my place in history as the next David Sedaris- than zoning out and cackling in front of my television.
Though it’s understandable to want to turn one’s brain off after an 8+ hour work day, sloth sessions won’t contribute to your personal growth or development and could actually be detrimental to your health. If you go down for a nap upon arriving home, you’ll likely have issues sleeping when your designated bedtime rolls around and increase your chances of feeling tired the following work day. Sitcoms, reality shows, and soap operas can be nice escapes from stressful work projects, but you’ll gain a lot more from actually socializing with someone than expecting the television to entertain you. As exhausted as you may feel when at the end of your workday, resist the temptation to indulge in laziness. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your post-work time.
Stay away from bed
If you do go straight home from work, don’t kill your momentum by climbing into bed right away. It may look and feel a million times more comfortable than your office swivel chair, which you just spent at least eight hours glued to, but your mattress is not your friend, at least until you need shut eye.
We love naps. But don’t take naps within two hours of your actual bedtime. Late-evening naps disrupt your resting schedule and could consequently hinder your work performance, especially if you suffer from insomnia. Long naps (or as I like to call them, coma naps) can interfere with your nighttime sleeping patterns, so hit the hay early on in the night rather than napping as soon as you get back home.
You’re also better off using the bed solely for its intended purpose: sleeping (there’s obviously some wiggle room in this definition, but you get the idea). Don’t invite your gadgets into bed, watch TV in bed, or make phone calls from bed (unless you’re dating Ryan Gosling and he’s talking you to sleep by phone. Do that). Get a change of scenery by doing these things in another spot. I currently reside in an apartment that lacks a living room; the result is that when I want to interact with my roommates, I linger in the kitchen. It’s not ideal for having a relaxing conversation or reading my novel, but is less likely to make me doze off.
Plan for dinner
Sometimes your evening plans can get chaotic, and it’s easy to push off dinner til you get home late at night. But late night munching habits are linked to weight gain and sleeping problems- so whether you’re staying in or going out in the evening, make sure to eat at least a few hours before you tuck in for the night.
If you’ve got evening plans, make sure to include actual food during the course of your night instead of pushing it off until you get home. And if you’re staying in, plan your dinner before you arrive home so that you’ll be prepared to eat well before bedtime. If you have roommates, perhaps they can enjoy the meal as well. This will give each of you a chance to talk about your day and socialize whilst satisfying your stomachs.
Let’s be frank: most of us work from a desk. We’ve made no secret of our love for exercise and good health, so it should come as no surprise that we suggest breaking a sweat after a long work day to increase endorphins and remain active. You can try to counteract the health risks of your desk job by undergoing a semi-rigorous or intense workout at the end of your day. Gathering up the motivation to lift weights or fight the crowds at gym rush hour can be tough, but you’ll feel energized and recharged after getting in some quality exercises. An added benefit of regular physical activity is that it wakes up your metabolism and normalizes your sleep schedule.
Visit with friends
As earlier noted, there’s no substitute for human contact-and Phil Dunphy doesn’t count. Especially if you’ve moved to a completely new city post-graduation, the working world can seem unbecoming from a socializing perspective. The pattern of working constantly and letting your social life take a backseat is a slippery slope. But especially for urbanites, it can be just as easy to come out of a social funk and invigorate your social life by inviting members of your social network to dinner, drinks, a movie, or coffee. Better yet, find an activity that multiple friends can attend. That way, you won’t feel like the only folks you ever talk to are your coworkers. Even if they’re awesome, they’re not enough to make you a well-socialized human.
Ditch the pajamas!
If there’s any place in which you can choose comfort over style without social backlash, it’s home. But don’t give in to your pajama-donning impulses. Your work attire may feel suffocating at the end of the day, but going from suit to nighty is a surefire way to signal to your body that it’s done for the day.
Our advice? Follow the Field of Dreams code: if you build it, they will come. Even if you have no plans to go out, change from office attire into plainclothes until you’re ready for bed. Maintaining dress decorum in your own domicile will also incentivize you to go out on the town or accept a drinks invitation should it present itself to you. Be ready for whatever the night may bring. Dress as if you have something to look forward to, and (especially in New York) you soon will have something to look forward to.
Write a list of things you’d like to achieve at home
Towards the end of your work day, take some time to think about the house chores you still need to take care of. Are you overdue for a visit to the laundromat? Is your bathroom out of toilet paper? Is your kitchen trash can overflowing? Have you been neglecting your New Years Resolutions? Are you itching to go for a 2-mile run or have a reunion hangout with a good friend?
Before you check out of the office for the day (mentally or physically), write down everything you’d like to achieve at home so you’ll remember to take care of these things once the work day is over and you’re back in your living space. Divide your tasks into errands and chores, and make a rough mental hour-by-hour plan for your evening. Sometimes just forcing yourself to verbalize your plans for the evening will make you realize that there are things you could be adding to that list.
Challenge yourself once a week
Rather than going straight from work, try doing something new once or twice a week. That could mean reaching out to someone in your professional network for drinks, exploring the rock climbing studio in your neighborhood, taking an evening coding or language course, attending an advanced yoga course, participating in an office-wide sports match with your colleagues, or checking out the museum you’ve always wanted to experience. Keep your week interesting and different by veering away from your nightly routine once a week. You may be tired at the start of your endeavor, but you’ll probably feel very rewarded in the long run.