Leave the planning at work

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Making a clear break between work and home will ensure that you perform at your best in each space. Dr Adam Fraser explains how you can implement a smooth transition between spaces into your daily routine:

Working in the financial services industry you are faced with many challenges. Keeping clients happy, managing the expectations of stakeholders and keeping up with constant regulatory changes are all in a day’s work. Of all the challenges you face the greatest one is the huge number of hats you have to wear on any given day. One moment you are playing counselor to a client, then wrestling with a frustrating bank system, then selling your expertise to a prospective client; finally you are expected to go home and turn off from work and engage with the people in your personal life. The challenge here is how do you perform at your best in each space you inhabit and not carry a bad experience into the next one?

I first came across the concept of transitioning when Jim Loehr’s research showed that there is very little difference between the top 100 male tennis players in terms of speed, accuracy and power during the point. Where the elite players differed was what they did in between the points. First of all the elite players were able to reflect on the previous point and not carry what happened into the next point. Secondly, they were able to relax their body, which calmed their mind and conserved their energy. Finally, they moved into the next point with a focused, optimistic mind. It was not what the elite players did during the point; it was what they did in between the points that made them the best.

We are just like the tennis players moving from point to point - our lives are made up of moving between different spaces. The first space is the role/environment/task you are in now; the second space is the role/environment/task you are about to transition into. E.g. You may go from checking emails at your desk to sorting out a personal issue, or you may go from an internal meeting about the strategy of your business to an external meeting where it is about your client’s world. Each space requires us to be different things to different people. The key to success in business is the ability to use the Third Space (the transitional gap between the first and second) to leave behind the baggage from the previous interaction and show up to the next one with a mindset that will help you gain the maximum amount of value from it.

Don’t take work home

One of the transitions we struggle with the most is the transition from work to home. In our research we found that people often carried the work mindset into the home; that is they tried to run their home like their office. This mindset is obviously not conducive to the home. Our research found that only 26 per cent of people came home with a positive mindset and only 43 per cent came home in a good mood. We set out to determine if the transition between work and home could improve mood and mindset. After three years of research we found the magic formula.

The perfect transition between work and home consists of three elements:

  1. Reflect: This is where you reflect on the day. The key is to reflect on the positive things that happened. Specifically, what went well, what did you achieve and how did you get better? This activity gives you a burst of happiness and optimism.
  2. Rest: This is where you take time to be calm and focus on the present moment. This step relaxes the mind and sets you up for constructive behaviours.
  3. Reset: The final step is where you became clear about your intention for the home space and articulate the specific behaviours you want to exhibit. This final step had a dramatic impact on people’s behaviour as it elevates their self-awareness.

In one of our experiments we asked a group of small business owners to practice these three steps between work and home. After a month of practicing we saw a 41% improvement in their behaviour in the home.