Keeping Work Stress from Coming Home
Is work stress coming home with you, along with tension, irritability, and anxiety? Experiment with these environmental controls and behavioral tactics to see if they don’t steer your thoughts and reflexes away from work and worries.
1) Before leaving work, participate in a ritual that “completes your day.” For example, put things away, stack paper neatly, roll your chair under your desk, dust a couple of shelves, and empty the wastebasket. Take a good look at your office or workspace, “feel the completion” of your day—and leave. These behaviors, practiced daily for just a week, will begin to compartmentalize work and home.
2) If bringing work home is unavoidable, don’t place it on the kitchen counter, dinette, or with house clutter as you walk through the door. Instead, create a special location in your home physically removed from areas where you engage with loved ones.
3) Create digital communication habits that reinforce boundaries. For example, on your voice mail, say that you are gladly available, but only if it is urgent, along with instructions for the caller for what to do next. Note that you can experience a 99% reduction in unnecessary phone calls if you simply allow the caller to decide if the concern is so urgent that it can’t wait. Most of the time, it really can.
Compartmentalization, boundaries, and smart-phone management— these are instruments of work-life balance. Make them work for you.