Never take a bad work day home again, using these 3 steps

Jan 7, 2019 /

It’s about creating a space to transition from your work self to your home self, according to peak performance researcher and consultant Adam Fraser.

Every weekday for the month of January, TED Ideas will publish a new post in a series called “How to Be a Better Human,” containing a useful piece of advice from a speaker in the TED community. To see all the posts in the series, click here.

What are you carrying home from work with you? We don’t mean the tangible, practical items — the empty sandwich container or the folders of papers to look over — but the invisible stuff that can weigh us down — that critical comment made by a coworker, the disappointing numbers in the weekly report, the important meeting that keeps getting rescheduled. Do you ever wish there was a “delete” or “pause” button you could push to stop your brain from whirring?

Australian performance consultant Adam Fraser hasn’t invented a pause button, but he has come up with a trick to help people stop bringing home their bad days: Create a “third space” that gives you the mental room to transition from work life to home life.

The third space doesn’t need to be a physical area. It could be “the drive home, the ferry ride, the bus ride, walking the dog, going to the gym,” as one CEO told him. It’s just about taking the time to power down from your day and decide how you’d like to show up at home. Because if you don’t do this, you risk passing your grumpy mood to the people you live with. “Even if you live on your own,” Fraser adds, “how you transition home determines whether you unwind, relax and socialize or obsess and worry about the day.”

To set yourself up for a restorative evening, Fraser suggests these three steps.

Reflect on your day. Ask yourself: “What went well? What did I achieve? What might I do better tomorrow?” These questions are intended to remind you about your successes, nudge you to learn from your experiences, and adjust for the future.

Rest by doing something that makes you present. This might mean doing sudoku, exercising or meditating. It could also be as simple as taking a shower and changing out of your work clothes before you engage with other people. Fraser likes to bring his two kids and dog to the park, where they all run around. “We are idiots for 45 minutes,” he says, laughing.

Reset by asking yourself: “How do I want to show up at home?” Rather than flying in the door with your work day trailing behind you, try to be purposeful as you step into your personal life.

You can spend as little as 15 minutes in your third space, says Fraser: “It’s not when you show up, it’s how you show up.”

Watch his TEDxQUT talk here: