October 4, 2019
Ask Allyson: How Do I Stop Taking My Work Home
ASK ALLYSON: I can’t shut off from work. It’s not because I’m behind or I can’t get my work done during office hours. It’s because I love my job. But it’s starting to interfere with my life, as I can’t stop thinking or talking about my job. I’m afraid I’m starting to drive everyone crazy, including myself. Is this a problem? And what can I do to stop it? -The Willing Workaholic
Dear The Willing Workaholic,
You know what they say: it’s not a problem until it’s a problem. And because you’re asking, I’m guessing that it’s a problem, albeit a good problem to have.
First, take a moment to acknowledge that you’re in a job you love. That’s huge! Over the course of my life and career, I’ve met so many people both personally and professionally who absolutely hated their jobs or were in positions that felt like a j-o-b. You should be proud of the fact that you love what you do. Unlike what is portrayed in the movies, we don’t just wake up in our dream careers. It takes a lot of clarity, intention, and hard work.
Now as a fellow someone who absolutely loves what they do, I do think this is something you should address, or risk burnout. Everyone needs “off” time where they can rest, recharge, and recalibrate (I think this is called balance?!!). Work-life balance will always be the topic at hand, but achieving it can prove to be challenging for some. So instead, tackle it in a smaller dose. Think about your transitions.
I learned about transitions while reading High Performance Habits in 2018, during my ‘summer of growth’ with my business bestie, Jennifer Little of HEYDAY. Transitions are something that I was already unconsciously doing, but until I read the book, I didn’t completely understand their power. In the book, author and high performance coach Brendan Burchard shares his thoughts on how we move so fluidly through our days, unknowingly bringing the thoughts/feelings/emotions with us from one place/task/experience/environment to the next. What’s not so great about this is that we aren’t able to approach something with a clean slate, and give it the attention it deserves. Stop and think about that for a second. We are carrying so much with us throughout our days! And it can be heavy! We deserve some reprieve! His suggestion is brilliant, if you ask me. He suggests creating transitions.
Now before you freak out thinking that you need to read the book, create a vision board, or meditate on your transitions (which, you totally can if you want!), get this: transitions are whatever works for you. For me, a transition is washing my hands when I arrive at the office first thing in the morning. The physical act of washing my hands helps transition me from home to work, and puts me in the mindset for the day ahead. Throughout the day, I rely on the power of my breath to transition between tasks, calls, and meetings. Before I get on a call, I take a big breath. And after getting off that call, I do it again. When I get home at night (after greeting my dogs, of course), I change out of my clothes and wash my face. That transition signifies to my brain that my work day is done, and I can focus on home. See?
So call them transitions, rituals, or whatever you want. I have a feeling that they might be exactly what you need to stop carrying your work around with you all the time.