Have you found your work flowing into your home, into your spaces of rest, this past year or so?
You’re not the only one.
Working from home has meant for many of us that there is no clear delineation between work and home. Because of that, people all over the world have been working at all hours, and in spaces they previously saved for resting.
And that’s not because there is a lot more work to do, or because leaders demand it of their teams.
It’s because people have lost their normal working patterns, the routines that signalled work was over for the day.
So we find ourselves…
…sending team emails at 9pm
…stressing about something and jumping on the computer by 7am, before we even had a chance to stretch
…deciding to do ten more minutes of emails and realising it’s two hours later
That headspace of work doesn’t leave us.
And that, is not healthy. Not the work life balance we strive for.
And it’s not very efficient either. More work doesn’t mean better work. It’s #research.
We used to decompress during our commute in what is referred to by some as the ‘third space’. This term, made popular by Dr Adam Fraser, refers to what my father used to call his ‘thinking time’, his one-hour drive between our property and town. By the time he got to either destination he had transitioned into a different headspace.
At work, this might be walking down the hall or street to another meeting, the commute between home and work or even the quick chat with a colleague between meetings as you grab a cup of tea together. It enables us to process what we’ve just done and prepare for the next things we are doing.
That time you take to decompress after a day’s work, so you can be present in your life outside work, the transition that allows us to reflect and move on to the next stage of the day, is…gone.
We go from zoom meeting to zoom meeting with no breaks.
We close the laptop to head straight to making dinner.
From an intense meeting straight to homeschooling schedule for the next day.
From a difficult work conversation straight to asking a partner about their day.
And the problem is that without that space in between, our work brain never shuts down. And when we don’t shut down, we burn out.
A few things you can do to nurture that third space for yourself and for your team:
– Go for a walk outside before you start work in the morning, and after you finish work in the afternoon
– Bookmark the work day in some way: by journaling, reading, exercising, meditating
– Talk to your team about how that third space might look like for them
– And don’t forget to lead by example by setting those boundaries for yourself
Encouraging that disconnect for your team will help preserve everyone’s energy and sanity.
Let me know if you’ve found some other ways to encourage that transition between work and home when you’re working from home.