7 Productive Ways to Make Use of Your Time After Work

When you finally answer that one last email and shut your computer down for the day, your thoughts may immediately drift to crashing face first into your pillow. Get this: I’m not here to tell you that’s a bad idea. What you do off the clock, on your own time, can help you recharge and prevent you from burning out in an age where we hold our e-mail inboxes in the palms of our hand and 43 percent of Americans don’t use up their vacation days. Turn off your e-mail notifications and get ready for a little you time tonight.

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Exercise

orangetheory

Like rock beats scissors, endorphins trump stress every time. image: orangetheory

After a stressful day at work and a commute that included getting cut off and flipped off three times, there’s often nervous energy to burn off. Getting in a good run or trying out the TRX trend can provide some serious stress relief thanks in part to mood-boosting endorphins. Being able to focus on getting in that last half mile or beating a friend in a game of hoops can also take your mind off your worries. Torn between passing out on the couch while watching the Mets and exercise? Try working out for 10 minutes. If you’re not feeling it, flip on the Amazins.

Take a Class

A paper published by National Bureau of Economic Research in 2012 found that education was a large predictor of health and mortality in most countries. In other words, there’s truth to the old adage about learning something new every day. Take up a new language, join a drum circle or finally up your culinary game.

Happy Hour

image: the roof

image: the roof

A 2012 AARP survey of 4,000 Americans ages 35 to 80 found that friendship made people happier than their salaries. Between work and home obligations, making it to the office happy hour or grabbing a post-work drink with a friend can be tough, but it’s worth making the effort. When you’re west of LI, let us recommend some ultimate rooftop bars

Network

Whether you’re looking to get better at your current job or move on to another, meeting new people and reconnecting with former bosses, colleagues and contacts can put you in a better position to do so. Check for alumni clubs in your area, start attending local Chamber of Commerce meetings or research career development conferences.

Say No

Yes, you need to network. Yes, you should exercise and meet up with friends for a drink. No, you shouldn’t constantly run around on empty. If you’re spent after finally closing on a major deal, have a busy week of shuttling your kids to soccer and baseball practice or are just yearning for a Real Housewives marathon (no shame!), learning to say no can improve productivity and mental health.

Meditate

meditation apps

Get centered image: visualcommunications

Meditators reap neurological and emotional benefits, like feeling happier and less stressed. Following a marathon meeting with your boss that saw your to-do list go from two pages long to five, you could probably use a little of those in your life. Get started with some expert tips for beginners, then try out a meditation center, like the Long Island Center for Mindfulness featured in the May issue of Pulse. Want to get centered without leaving your dog home alone for another hour? Try a meditation app.

Sleep

Your doctor, mother and spouse constantly lecture you about getting enough sleep, and yet you find yourself scrolling through work e-mail (OK, Facebook) late into the night. But getting enough sleep tonight will help improve your ability to learn and function tomorrow, so go back to your initial plan when you answered that aforementioned final e-mail, fall onto that mattress and catch some well-deserved shut-eye.

Tell us: What’s your favorite way to spend time after work? Answer in the comments, or tell us on Facebook and Twitter.

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a social strategist of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email bethann@lipulse.com or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.