YOU MUST SEPARATE
WORK-LIFE FROM HOME-LIFE
“I want you to pay attention to me.”
DOES THIS EVER HAPPEN TO YOU?
You’ve had a trying day at work. You drive home worrying about work matters. You walk into your house and in five minutes your spouse says, “Where are you, because you’re sure not here with me?”
You brought your work stress home and were unable to “be present” with the folks who live there. You were distracted. Your mind was clearly on other things. You were quick to anger. You were doing harm to your home life and to yourself personally too.
If this is ever you, your unpleasant demeanor and “not present” reaction to the folks at home is unnecessary and completely avoidable – IF – you apply corrective strategy and take appropriate action.
Practical steps to deal with this need to separate your work-life from your home-life come from research on “psychological detachment” – the ability to leave work-stress and worry at work and go home mentally unencumbered.
And yes, this is one of those things that is easier said than done.
The big trouble comes when you do enough to “detach.” And Big True Fact: Mental detachment from work is hardest just when you need it most. Nonetheless, there are clear findings on how to help switch off from work. Just like you can wash your hands to avoid illness, you can prevent your stress from rubbing off onto others.
LEAVE IT OUTSIDE
One of my favorite authors and motivational speakers, Jim Rohn, once said, “Every day, stand guard at the door of your mind.”
Negativity of any kind is a distraction from your true desires. If excessive worrying, and the mental stress it creates, festers too long, stays with you when it should be gone – like when you leave work at the end of the day – it becomes cancer-like, in that it eats away at your dreams and destroy the peace and tranquility you ought to enjoy in your home life.
By failing to leave your work worries at work, you invite those unpleasant feelings to permeate your outside of work relationships. Do this enough and you risk ruining those family and friend relationships that ought to nourish you and make you a more human and loving person.
Here are six strategies that have been proven to separate work-life from home-life.
1. DEVISE A STRONG “CLOSING RITUAL.”
I recommend that you go through your next day’s tasks before your leave your work place. Make a list in a notebook and put the notebook aside till the start of the next day.
Before you leave work, taking a few minutes to plan your activities for the next work day is an excellent idea. It is especially important to list the main thing(s) about which you are highly concerned and deeply worried.
Extra Bonus: Having an ongoing record in a notebook you keep is an effective score keeping device as well. It’s good to keep track of things, especially what happens with the things about which you worry.
As part of this strategy, I recommend you write a “START HERE” list for your next work day. This is a great way to be prepped on what matters most for when you return. Now, this list of thing(s) that weigh on your mind is far more likely to be non-routine matters, things that are different or unusual or problematic, rather than ordinary things you do every day or week.
Make this “START HERE” and put it aside. Then at the beginning of your next workday you’ll be prepared – you’ll be ready for what lies ahead. And you’ll have no real need to worry about anything until you get into work next time.
NOTE: please avoid going to the corner bar and tossing back a few big orange drinks as this closing ritual often just makes matters worse.
2. PARK YOUR WORRIES OUTSIDE YOUR HOUSE.
Find someplace outside you house to park your work worries. This sounds weird but you can metaphorically park your worries behind before you go through your front door. You could choose the branch of a tree or a flower pot or just about anything handy. Whatever you choose for this, reach out and touch that physical item and say in your mind (or out loud) that you are parking your worries there – and that you’ll pick them up again the next workday.
Lean forward, touch the tree branch, or whatever you chose, and say “I’m leaving work concerns here right now.” Then, head inside to focus on your home life. This is a great way of stopping your mind whirring over what you might have to do your next day at work.
3. GREET THE FOLKS AT HOME WITH A SMILE AND ENGAGE WITH THEM.
When you step inside, go up to your spouse or child or whoever and hug them and say “Hello love, I glad to home with you!” Then get into their world and out of yours. Smile, make eye contact. Pay attention to the people who live with you. Prove to them that you care about their lives.
4. UNHOOK FROM YOUR CELL PHONE AND EMAIL.
When you first get home, turn off from the outside world. Put your cell phone in the charger. Leave the internet and your email untouched. And very important, never look at email just before going to bed.
5. CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES.
By taking off and putting away what you wore to work, then donning some other combinations of shirts, pants, skirts, blouses, shoes, slippers and such, you make a strong physical statement that work is over. This is especially important for home-based workers who need a little extra in terms of disconnecting and psychologically detaching.
6. DO SOME “ME TIME” STUFF.
Finally, bear in mind the research highlighting the importance of using some of your non-work time to do what you enjoy and what makes you happy. You might think of this as getting some “me time.” The idea is that your “me time” activities help you cope with your family and work responsibilities more effectively, as well as helping keep your mind off work related worries.
In conclusion, of course you have many different roles in life. But you are ultimately one and the same person, with limited time, energy and resources. If pressure is applied in one area of life, the consequences ripple outwards to other areas. So take care and build an effective separate work-time from not work-time habit, and you’ll be healthier and happier too. So will everyone else around you.