leaving stress at work

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The Problem: The Mid-Meal Gulp Moment
What's happening: In the middle of dinner, you're ambushed by questions you can't immediately answer, like "Did I start that memo and what do I have to remember to still put in it?" or "Where did I leave things with the sales team?"

What to try: When we leave tasks half-finished, we often expend mental energy trying to keep our place—with limited success. So find "task boundaries," says Shamsi Iqbal, PhD, a Microsoft researcher who studies multi-tasking and interactions between people and computers. Best case: finish and send the email or don't start it at all, instead of leaving it languishing in your drafts folder, which Iqbal says most people forget to check the next day. Or finish writing that section, that page or at least that paragraph. When you create a psychological boundary like this, Iqbal says, your brain can release what it was thinking about—freeing you up at night to focus on family, friends and good TV. What's more, the next day, you don't have to re-gather your thoughts or expend mental energy figuring out where you were; you'll feel fresh to start on the next section, page or paragraph of the project.