There are times when I have to bring my work home. I’ve been trying to cut down on that, to spend more quality time with the family, and have been successful. Whew. I understand that there will be times that when you just have to bring home a bunch of papers to review or answer e-mail. I also acknowledge your desire to find that balance of family time when at home! So for those moments when you can’t help but bring work home home, here are four tips. These have worked for me, and I hope they work for you too.
1. Do you really have to work? That’s the first question I ask myself when I’m tempted to open my laptop and check my mail. Sometimes the need to work at home is triggered by my workaholic tendencies. I don’t want to be out of the loop at work, so want to stay connected as much as possible. The sacrifice there is while I’m trying to stay connected to work while at home, I’m losing connection with the people at home, at that very moment. That totally sucks. So I ask myself — do I REALLY have to work? If the answer is no, I keep my laptop in my laptop bag and my work phone at bay.
2. Can that work wait till tomorrow? So I say to the previous question, “Yup, I really have to work.” The next question is, “Can it wait till the next day?” Chances are it can — I just can’t resist getting a head start. But again, what I gain for the next day I lose in precious moments at that very moment. So if the work is not actionable this evening and can wait till tomorrow, don’t work.
3. Don’t install your work mail on your smart phone. This happened to me by accident — a delightful accident, I might add. A few months ago, my work phone was connected to my business email. Then we had to make some technical changes and I ended up having to uninstall my email app from my work phone. I resisted installing the new work email app and felt how much more stress-free I was! Until today, I have not installed the email app in my workphone. Haha! Work-life balance at home for the win. No more need to check my phone every once in awhile. I’ve felt more peace of mind, really!
4. Set a time period for working and let your husband and children know. If you really have to work, set a reasonable deadline. “I have to work from 10-12 midnight to finish a presentation for tomorrow,” I’d tell my husband. He knows the drill. He’d take care of our son during that time. They’d usually watch a late movie or play LEGO toys, and I’d get to work in peace. “I’ll be working, Timmy,” I’d tell my son, so he knows not to bother me during those times. The more interruptions I have, the longer it takes me to finish the tasks. The key here is discipline. Finish the tasks within the deadline you gave yourself and avoid extending. That means avoiding distractions like checking social media, absentmindedly surfing, or playing games to take a ‘break’.
These four rules to bringing work home (or not bringing work home) have helped me manage my time better as a wife and mother. When I’m at home, it’s all about family and I want to keep it that way regardless of how loaded my work plate is. It’s not easy, but we try our best to make it work.
Cheers to work-life balance!