I was out having drinks with my friend Garrett when my phone buzzed. It was a text message from a coworker asking me to check my email and send my approval for a project document. Although Garrett and I were in a lively discussion about Wim Hof’s breathing techniques, I figured that I could multitask and approve the document quickly before continuing with my evening.
I pulled up my email and approved the document. Then I noticed that one of my employees sent me a vacation request. I responded to her to let her know I would check the schedule and get back to her the next day. I also noticed that one of our vendors asked when a new script for his agents would be available. I sent him a quick response and told him that it was still pending legal review.
“What do you think?” Garrett asked.
“About what?” I said and then immediately realized that I had not paid attention to anything he had said. I was too busy focusing on work. I apologized and turned my phone off, but it made me question my tendencies towards work.
For the record, I love my job. I work in training and development for a small company. This job allows me to be creative and I get to see my thumbprint all over the company. When someone calls to enroll with us, our customer care agents are reading terms and conditions that I created, they are using tools that I built from the ground up, and following processes that I implemented. It’s a rush. More importantly, I get to help our employees meet their personal and career goals. It’s amazing.
With all that being said, it is a lot of work. Since the company is so small, I am the only employee that is 100% dedicated to employee training. I’m usually busy from the time I step into the office until the time I leave.
The reason I accepted the job was because of the creative outlet it would provide me with, as well as the work-life balance it promised. Ultimately, I have not allowed myself to create that boundary between work and life. That’s where Joanna DeVoe comes in.
Each year, Joanna sends out a survey to her to listeners/viewers. This year, she asked us to send her questions. One viewer asked a question about creating such a boundary, and Joanna suggested that they create a ritual to begin the workday and another to end the workday. Although I already have morning and evening rituals, I thought this approach might help me.
I arrive at work at 7 am, and I am usually the first to arrive. This gives me some time and space to work. Now, when I arrive at the office, I duck into the first-floor restroom. I wash my hands and mentally push any stress from my personal life in the water and watch as it trickles down the drain. Once I am at my desk, I take a few deep breaths and mentally thank the Universe for the opportunities my job allows me and ask for the resilience to handle any stress that comes my way. Then I fire up my laptop with a quiet “Let’s do this.”
Once my workday winds down, I start my ritual with something mundane. I send a quick message to each of my reports to see if they need anything. I also speak to my boss and anyone else that may need something from me. Once I am sure that anything they need can wait until I return, I power off my laptop and head back to the downstairs restroom. I wash my hands, this time with the intentions of leaving any stress from the workday here at the office until I return. I dry my hands and take a few cleansing breaths. Once I am out of the building, I do not check my email nor answer any work calls for the rest of the evening.
So far, it’s worked well for me. I have more time away from work to focus on my life, and I feel less overwhelmed when I am at work. It seems simple, but creating rituals to create boundaries for the different aspect of life may have amazing results.