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by Blair Norfolk |

Recent research from Roy Morgan has revealed that 38.3% of Australian workers find it difficult to switch off from work. In this article, we’ll look at what it means to switch off from work, why Aussies are struggling and why it’s so important to do so.

First of all, what does ‘switching off’ mean in this case? Essentially, it means switching your thoughts to other things. If you’re dwelling on work, you’re thinking about what happened at work that day, frustration related to work or upcoming work events.

There are a number of reasons that Australians are having trouble switching off afterhours. One of the most common causes is a sense of job insecurity. If you don’t have job security, you may end up obsessing over work because it’s a constant source of worry for you. Research backs this up, suggesting that people in notoriously low-security jobs finding it most difficult to switch off. 48% of constructions workers, for instance, admit to having these issues.

Another possible cause is how easily contactable we are through mobile devices. Most workers are connected and contactable 24/7, making it easy to shoot off late-night emails or check business social pages before even getting out of bed.

Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine says, “Workers who have problems switching off outside of business hours are markedly more likely than the average worker to ‘need to be contactable at all times for work’ and to feel they need a mobile phone to help them juggle their work and personal life. What’s more, an above-average proportion of them admit that they can’t live without a mobile phone.”


So why should we switch off? Many experts say that allowing yourself time to focus on your life outside of work is crucial for physical and mental health. The assumption is that if you’re dwelling on work, it will usually be related to some stressful aspect of the job. And these negative thought patterns could to take a toll on your sleep, motivation, even your appetite.

Issues around switching off from work are widespread, affecting men and women across a huge age range. With such a broad demographic, there probably isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. With a bit of reflection, hopefully you’ll be able to get to the cause of the issue. Once you’ve identified the cause, time to brainstorm three ways to combat it.

If you feel insecure in your position, perhaps you could ask for a performance review to better understand how management feels about your work. If you work for yourself, consider getting a lawyer to draw up contracts that lock in clients for set periods of time.

Or if being online 24/7 is behind the behaviour, try setting phone-free blocks of time outside of work hours. For example, you could trial phone-free time from 6-9am and after 7pm. Your hands may twitch and your mind may wander for the first week, but it could end up being just the thing to help you switch off and enjoy the ‘life’ portion of the ‘work-life balance’ people are always talking about.

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Roy Morgan Research