Today, I have one word for you: Transitions.
How is it possible that I have only just realized this?
To maintain a healthy work/life balance, I must be able to seamlessly transition between activities.
Although it may seem obvious, it has only been a short time since I realized this about my pre-schoolers as well as me. I think I have this aspect down and manage their transitions well.
“We can play for a further 10/5/3/1 minute, then we go home.”
“I’m going to count to 10 and then turn off the light.”
“I’ll sing another tune, then you have go back to bed.”
My own transitions were more like these:
It’s 5.55 AM and I am leaving my house to catch my train in five mins. I will just wash the laundry, then take the clothes upstairs to dry, before I put on my shoes.
It’s 4.55pm and I need to leave the office in 5 minutes. I can send another email before I leave.
No! It’s not surprising that my confusion has been so pervasive. I have written before about running to meetings. While it is true that children can teach you a lot about life, managing transition time is what I believe my children have taught me the most.
New ways to manage work transitions
This is what I am trying to do instead.
Set alarms for meetings (Outlook does this for you) and get your thoughts together.
It is important that I wind down at work at the end of each day, at least 30 minutes before I leave the office. I don’t live the life I used. I can’t stay there and do my work naturally, feel satisfied with my accomplishments, and then go. There are trains to catch, and there are boys I want to get to know at night. I need a plan. I must also be able stop trying to change work mode to commute mode in two seconds.
The 30 minute leave-work transition was for me the most important revelation. I make sure to complete the important tasks on my To Do List. I also ensure that I have enough time for the small tasks, such as the half-written email that I started at 8am, but haven’t finished yet.
I make a list with the most important things I need to do tomorrow to know what I should be paying attention to when I get to work. End of the day, my message is changed in the office. I take my cups back to the kitchen and check in with my colleagues.
It means I leave the office feeling calmer, more organized.
Even if I just walk back to my house from the shed, which is where I work most days, it is still a commute.
My good feelings of control and organization are often destroyed by the frequent train strikes and disruptions on my return journey. But I can’t do everything.
Could you do the same thing to end your day more easily and less stressed?