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  • Writer's pictureRobert Norton

Poor transitions can cost you a peaceful evening

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Working from home has been a study in context shifting for me. Prior to the pandemic, I had a 45-minute commute to slowly shed my frenetic work energy and shift into parenting mode. Upon walking in the door, I was ready to hear about my husband’s day or put on the appropriate parenting face for my middle schooler’s mood.

Now that I’m working from home, I have a 30-second walk between my office and the living room which is not nearly enough time to shift out of work mode and into a ferociously energy consuming after-school routine. And to compound the problem, my “home life” tends to show up at my office door at least an hour before I disconnect, leaving me with my attention pulled in two directions.

I would describe the energy I use to manage my team and workload as merry intensity. But, as I shift contexts into family life, that same energy is perceived by my loved ones as unwelcome urgency. My husband once reminded me as I barged out of my office enthusiastically giving them direction: “Stacy, we don’t report to you, remember?”

Recognizing that my poor transition was costing me a peaceful evening, I experimented with creating a new ritual to make the shift more gracefully. First, I protect the end of my day by blocking the last thirty minutes of my calendar for tying up loose ends. This helps reduce the chance I have to transition directly from a high stakes meeting into my family time. Secondly, on a post-it note, I write down those urgent work-related items most likely to rob my peace of mind post-transition. I fold the note up and put it in a mason jar, marked “NOT NOW” to set the intention to put work aside until the next day. Lastly, I do a 10-minute guided meditation to downshift my energy into something more mellow. It has made a big difference.

If you want to create your own transition routine, here are a few tips:

  • Keep your office door closed until you are done (literally or figuratively). Lovingly remind your family that 100% of your attention in thirty minutes is more valuable than half your attention now.

  • Pick a transition ritual that requires a shift in mental processing. I’m experimenting with meditation, but exercise, music, or doing a crossword puzzle may be best for you.

  • Enlist your family in supporting the habit. Tell them what you are doing and why it's likely to benefit them.

  • Don’t miss twice. The likelihood of perfectly completing the ritual every day is low. So instead of beating yourself up, commit to a restart the next day.

  • If you consistently find yourself skipping your transition ritual, ask yourself: What’s the smallest way I can honor this intention that may be more sustainable? Just taking a few breaths and acknowledging how you want to experience your evening can go a long way.

Whether you have an hour commute or you are walking down a hallway, think about how you want to intentionally shift gears. It can be a game changer for you and your loved ones.



 

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