Rumination and the lost art of switching off.

by | Feb 7, 2020 | Marketing | 0 comments

Rumination and the lost art of switching off.

I speak more and more lately about the value of time and often ask the question what is your time worth?

Whether it be finding time to be a Dad as part of the Dads In Business project or helping heating engineers from around the UK better manage their time and say no to some of the work they do in order to focus on the stuff they really want to do at work or at home as part of The Boiler Business programme, time management and getting to grips with the trade off of work/life is vital. But then so if switching off and becoming more ‘at’ the thing you are supposed to be doing.

Are you sat reading this article now when you should be seeing the kids for example? Are you reading this at home and thinking about being at work? But then when you get to work are you thinking about all the important things you need to do at home? Yes, you may physically be at work or at home, but something I watched recently made me realise – I am ruminating far too much!

What is ruminating?

Do you find yourself at home, listening to music, walking to or from work, sitting at home in an evening, trying to sleep, but suddenly in creeps the thoughts of work?! That email you could send, the social media post you should really do the one more check of messages that might be leading to something important at 11 O’clock at night!

It’s a common occurrence I’m sure, I’m quite guilty of it myself more than I realise!

It turns out, from the video I’ve shared in this post, the word ruminating comes from the way a cow digests its food. Yep, the cow eats its food once, chews it, then regurgitates it to chew it over all over again!

As crude a thought that might be, how appropriate it is though that this is what we are doing with our thoughts, leaving us neither here nor there, but rather just ruminating – chewing things over – again and again and again.

That email you could send. Why? The checking of emails at 11 at night? What’s going to have happened then? Everyone else has switched off – so why don’t you?! Chewing things over time and again is leading us to lack of focus when we aren’t at work, as all we do is think about being back at work!

I am as bad as the next person with this but I am taking responsibility to own this and change the habits. At the time of writing, I am incredibly poor at ‘switching off’ when I get home.

How I ruminate and lose focus.

I can leave the office having had a good days work, or get home from a training delivery or coaching session with little or no more urgent or important work to do. Yet what is my first thought when I get back to the house? Yep – what work do I need to do?!

Maybe it stems from my really enjoying the work I do, or that I manage my own time and business and therefore allowing myself to switch off just isn’t an option. Either way, I recognise it as a weakness but until I saw the video I shared above, I didn’t really know what was going on.

Time management vs Presence.

Time management is one thing. It is one very important thing and I feel I am managing this better through a great little app called ATracker. I talk about it in the article asking what is your time worth and I encourage you all to get to grips with where your time is getting spent currently, and what you can do to adapt and change to where you want your time to be spent.

Another tool is the widely known Eisenhower Matrix. It is a brilliant task management and time management tool which simply shows the tasks which are urgent/important.


I find it’s all well and good physically being somewhere and not wasting time by going to or doing something that is just a waste of time. That’s a brilliant start. But then when I am somewhere that isn’t work – because all the work has been done – why then does work still creep into the top of the mind?!

I guess this is where mindfulness and presence comes in to play. My friend and colleague Angga Kara speaks about presence and transitioning from one role to the next. Mindfulness can seem a little fluffy to some, but by allowing yourself the time to really be somewhere is something I need to get better at!

How many things do you do at once?

In this article about simple mindfulness techniques, there are some key ideas to help be more present in the task you are doing.

Do one thing at a time

Act slowly and deliberately

Do less!

Some ideas for helping in the development of being present.

These ideas sounds simple, but in all honesty, how many things are you trying to do at once right now? Where is your mind wandering to? Are you taking deliberate steps and decisions about your actions? And are you frantically filling empty diary space with needless tasks to just get busy?!

Some ideas and commitments to start switching off.

I put this question to a Dads In Business group I host on WhatsApp as I wanted to get some feedback on how to switch off and stop ruminating. I hope some of these ideas can lead to commitments from you too to help you become more productive, better at work, better at home, and ultimately more satisfied with your own actions.

  1. Maintain a regular routine of exercise
  2. Commit to 3 to 5 things each week that you do that aren’t work related.
  3. Say no to checking the phone after 7 pm
  4. When playing with the kids or talking with the wife, no phone checking allowed!
  5. Don’t reply to emails after 7 pm
  6. No emails allowed at weekends unless pre-agreed work is needed.
  7. Use the time between work and home to ditch work thoughts/home thoughts and focus on the task in hand
  8. Create daily lists of tasks and don’t create work for works’ sake.

Further Reading.