Research suggests that a new positive psychology tool could transform your day. Equally important as downtime, a new study found that creating space to reattach to work could be just as critical. Reattaching could improve your performance and your experience throughout the working day. We take a look at what reattachment is and how to achieve it.

The Research

A study published in The Journal of Management recruited 151 workers to study the impact of attaching to work each morning. Workers were emailed surveys at the beginning and at the end of each day. The surveys explored how much time and thought each person devoted to the day before it began. Researchers asked the workers a series of questions like “Before I started my work . . .” and answered these specific items: “. . . this morning, I mentally prepared for it,” “. . . this morning, I mentally tuned into my work,” “. . . this morning, I gave some thought to the upcoming workday,” “. . . this morning, I thought about what I wanted to achieve at work today,” and “. . . this morning, I thought about what I will encounter at my work today.” 

The Results

Workers who created the space to consider their working day before it began were more productive. They experienced an array of positive emotions during their the day, were better able to set goals and maintain their focus on tasks. They also reported feeling that they had more job control and experienced increased social support from colleagues.

Conceptual Model from Sabine Sonnentag Kathrin Eck University of Mannheim Charlotte Fritz Portland State University Jana Kühnel Ulm University
Conceptual Model from Sabine Sonnentag Kathrin Eck University of Mannheim Charlotte Fritz Portland State University Jana Kühnel Ulm University

Reattachment. A psychological border between work and home.

This study points to the importance of reattachment to work in employee experiences and behaviours throughout the workday. It specifically highlights the benefits of creating and maintaining a mental boundary between life domains for employee engagement at work.

In the same way that creating an invisible line between work and home at the end of the day is crucial for resilience, building a psychological bridge for each new day also appears key to sustainable performance.

We like to think of it as a mini morning mindfulness session. Reattachment creates a convenient bridge between home and work.

How to Reattach

When we coach and consultant we always talk about the importance of renewal when it comes to sustainable performance. You can’t perform at your optimal level if you’re constantly switched on. Downtime is the enemy of burnout and the secret to sustainable performance. Sonnentag and Eck’s research suggests it’s equally as important to reattach. Here’s how.

  1. Create space to reflect upon the upcoming day. It doesn’t need to be a burden if you’re already time pressured. Whether you make space during your commute or when you sit down at your desk, it only needs to be for a few moments.
  2. Reflect on key questions. Think about your workload, how your work will flow and who you’ll be working with to get things done.
  3. Consider what you need to focus on. What is your priority for the day? How could you maximise your focus?
  4. Set goals. Once you’ve reflected, write down what you want to achieve during the day.

Want to know more about reattaching and performance? Take a look at our free Mindfulness at Work Toolkit or any of our free tools in the resources section.

We work with individuals, leaders and Fortune 100 companies to improve performance, build resilience and embed sustainable performance in teams. We provide a training courses, coaching and consultancy. Want to know more? Get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.


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