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Take control of your life - Part 7
“There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time” ~ Coco Chanel
If you can’t afford to make major changes in your career or your life to get the balance you need and want, there are some other ways to decompress and capitalize on the time you DO have for yourself and your family.
If you institute some simple changes, you will FEEL like you have more time for yourself and the time you have will be more rewarding.
In a moment, we will talk about the affects of stress on your body, your mind and your life and family.
So, hold that thought!
First, we should talk about making the available time ‘better’. Many people that have studied and mastered work/life balance are busier than ever!
But they know how to transition between work and social life so that they don’t waste time in limbo, trying to shake off the worries of the day and, in the process, ignoring the time they DO have with family members and friends.
Basically, it’s all in the approach!
Don’t let life run over you!
Get control. Know what you have to do and get it done. Then, when it is time to transition from home to work or from work to home, you will be ready for the transition.
To accomplish this, you’ll want to think of your ‘work time’ and your ‘personal time’ as existing in two different worlds.
Each of these ‘worlds’ requires different skills and a different focus, but they are both important.
You can use some of the ideas here to create a ‘transition’ ritual for yourself – one that gets you out of one world and ready for another.
To go from home to work, you can try these things:
Get things ready the night before. Don’t wait until the chaos of the morning to pack lunches and iron clothes.
Sign homework and pack your briefcase or car for work the night before, so you don’t forget anything.
The less rattled you are going into the day, the less unbalanced you will feel throughout the day.
Set your alarm and get up on time so you don’t have to rush. Always allow enough time for that last minute emergency, if you have kids. They have a way of foiling the best-laid plans.
You can try getting up before everyone else does if you think this might work for you.
That will give you a little quiet time to get things done in peace before the rest of the house starts to stir and you are less likely to forget things in the rush.
Some people use this extra quiet time to have a cup of coffee and write out their list for the day. Whatever works for you is fine!
Be sure you don’t run short on time to get to work. If you have young children, you have to be creative here. A ‘goodbye’ routine is a good idea.
One that is fun and easy for the kids to get into will make the drop-off at daycare a lot easier and you will be out the door in no time.
These routines take a few tries to get right, so be patient with yourself and your children.
Perhaps you can make a game of the tasks to be performed on the way out the door by using the familiar ‘Simon Says’. “Simon says get your lunch out of the refrigerator”.
Others use an imagination game to make the morning go smoothly. When you get to the drop-off point, ask your child to tell you what they will do today and make it fun and outrageous. “What are you going to do today, while I am at work?” “I’m going to climb the castle wall and rescue the beautiful princess. But first I have to kill the dragon that guards her”.
As soon as they understand the game, your kids will take it from there!
Focus on what fun things they might do that day, things they will learn and how anxious you will be to hear about what they did when you see them in the evening. And avoid the wrenching goodbyes and feelings of loss.
Have a plan for what you will do if your child is sick or if you wake up to a foot of snow and you can’t miss work.
Use your trip to work – by train, car or bus – to read a book you enjoy, make a list of action items for the day, have a cup of your favorite coffee or listen to your favorite CD or meditation tape.
You’ll need that sense of Zen and organization to get ready for the day, and you’ll greet the problems of the day with calm, and focused approach.
“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender” ~ Vince Lombardi ~
At the end of the day, don’t forget to transition back to your ‘social’ world. Switch out of the work mindset and use your time in the car, train or bus to reprogram yourself.
Consciously leave behind the work worries, make a short list of items to remember for the next day if you need to do so – and then let it go.
Listen to your CDs or read your book and focus on your family and friends. Think about what you will do when you get home and about the things you will share with your family and what they might want to tell you.
Some people close the office door and meditate for a few minutes before they leave or they use the very act of closing the door to ‘close the door on the day’ as they say.
Whatever works for you is fine!
One woman completes the transition by fixing her make-up, changing her shoes and spraying a fresh scent of perfume in the bathroom on the way out of the office. Now, she’s ready for the evening!
An advertising executive changes his clothes to casual clothing and puts on a clown nose for the drive home to get him in a silly mood. He gets a lot of stares by passing drivers, but he loves it.
You may have noticed that firefighters, and police officers never leave the station house in their uniform at the end of their shift.
There are many reasons for that transition but the psychological transition of taking off the ‘work clothes’ and putting on the street clothes is, nonetheless, a psychological transition that works for nurses, doctors, and firefighters alike.
For anyone that wears a uniform, a suit or other clothing that they don’t wear at home, the transition is something they don’t have to explain.
The mother that wears a business suit and high heels, is a different person to her children when she changes back into her jeans and t-shirt at home.
Make much of the homecoming, too!
Give hugs and kisses to all and announce your arrival. This will help you to transition and it will give your family the boost they need in seeing you at the end of the day.
And, don’t discount laughter as a means of transition from work to home. If you like to listen to stand-up comedians, or talk to a funny friend on the train on the way home, do so. Laughter has a very positive affect on your brain and on your outlook on life.
But, remember that coming home is not always a bed of roses.
Your spouse, children or parents may have had a hard day and they will save their troubles to tell you, their trusted confidante. After a long and hard day at work, the last thing you may feel like doing is to listen to troubles.
It helps to take a breather.
Go change, take a shower and relax for a few moments before you tackle the discussion about bills and health problems.
You can anticipate these discussions by calling home before you leave work to check in. Take the pulse of how things are going at home and find out who is having a bad day.
If you have to pick up your kids on the way home, and you are trapped in the car with a bundle of upset nervous energy, let them blow off steam and tell you their trials of the day for a few minutes.
Then turn on some music they like, settle in and agree that when you get home, everyone will take a deep breath and relax.
Reinforce that HOME is a soothing place! A place they can go to be with those that care about them and to get away from the problems of the day.
If YOU have a really tough day, tell your family that and ask for a few minutes to compose yourself before you join in the fray.
Be sure that they know that they have done nothing wrong and that you are just taking the time for yourself because of the day you had at work.
As you practice some of these techniques, you are bound to come up with your own ideas and rituals and you should try them and make liberal use of those that work for you, in order to help yourself with this transition.
Abraham A L
31st May 2016
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