Whether you work in an office or from home, you probably suffer from the dreaded syndrome of bringing your work home with you. Even if you don’t mention work to your partner, or check your Blackberry email when helping with the kids’ homework, I am sure, like most of us do, you are carrying some of the office around in your head.
As much as we try not to, most people think about pending jobs, things clients said during the week, emails they didn’t get, the implications of office politics, points they forgot to make in meetings…the list goes on and on. Needless to say, this isn’t good. It means we are working 7 days a week. You may be given the weekend off by your employer, or by yourself if you’re your own boss, but truth is you might as well be working, because you aren’t really present at home. Technology is a catalyst here, too. It means that we have a virtual office to use at all times. lt can be very tempting to reply to work-related emails and squeeze in bits of work in between social/family activities.
All in all this is terrible. We are a world that lives in the worship of the economy. We never leave the world of money and enterprise, emails and clients, presentations and meetings. Funny thing is, many of us work toward this dream that one day we will have enough money to not have to worry about work, yet truth is, look at all the well-known entrepreneurs; they never stop once they get rich, if anything they continue to chase that horrible “growth” word. It never stops. The striving becomes excessive, the ego keeps ploughing toward a place that doesn’t exist. The saddest part about this is that one day we all have to face our mortality, and when we do, it won’t be work we are thinking of, it will be, “why didn’t I pay more attention to my partner when he/she needed me back then”. Or, “Man, if I wish I’d seen Molly’s play rather than attend that stupid annual board meeting dinner.”
The point is, not only is carrying work around in your mind 24/7 stressful, but it also impacts on your life experience and the life experience of those you love and care about. So, my mindfulness exercise this week is a pretty big one, and in fact it is more of a favor to yourself. When you leave the office this week, LEAVE IT. I mean, once the laptop lid is shut, once the clock hits 5.30pm, let go. Don’t even check emails on your phone. And make it known to others that you have left work, and therefore you will be unavailable.Remember: nothing you think about between the time you leave and start again in the morning, or over the weekend, will change anything immediately. You can’t act on anything until you are back at work. Don’t be selfish, be present with your family, this is their time too, not just yours.
This is going to be hard, I know. So here is a suggestion. if you have an important work-related idea or thought, write it down in a notebook. Name this notebook “Closure.” The name represents the fact that once the idea is inside the pad it is not to be thought about anymore until you take the pad to work and act on the points written down. Doing this will release your mind of the maze of work thoughts you experience outside the office; it will also help you sleep better, believe me. Write your thought/idea down and go back to what you were doing. Be present with your family or friends, and make sure as hell you enjoy yourself!