Do you ever come home at the end of a long day at the office and answer the famous question of “How was your day?” only to later discover your entire evening was consumed by office talk? It happens to everyone at some point, possibly more often when you’re the person who’s actually running the company. If you’d rather use your off hours for relaxation than shop talk, here are three strategies for keeping work issues out of your personal life.
Strategy 1: Build a boundary
While it would be a little awkward to build a physical boundary between your office and your home, a boundary is exactly what you need to restore balance to your life. Instead, pick a landmark that’s roughly halfway between your office and home, something you can’t help but notice on both ends of the daily commute. Maybe it’s an unusual tree or a peaceful lake. Maybe it’s a gaudy building that always draws your eye.
The key is to make this landmark something you always notice without fail.
Every day when you head home from the office, allow yourself to dwell on the events of the day and anything on your plate for the following day, but only until you reach your landmark. At this point, turn your thoughts to home. Think about dinner or what the kids had going on at school that day. Really, think about anything in your personal life that doesn’t involve your work.
The beauty of this strategy is that it goes both ways, which is especially useful if personal stress is bleeding over to your business.
Strategy 2: Close the door
Building a boundary in your commute is well and good when you have a physical commute, but what can you do on the days you work from home? The simplest solution is to close the door. Literally.
Granted, not everyone likes to barricade themselves into a room of their home if they don’t have to. That’s perfectly fine. You can reopen the door if you’d like. The purpose of shutting the door when you begin and end your workday is to send the signal to your brain that it’s time to switch gears and focus on the other part of your world.
Strategy 3: Get an accomplice
Depending on who you vent to at the end of the day and how long they’ve been in your life, you may not have someone who already puts an end to office talk when it’s gone on long enough. If you do, encourage this person to be more vocal about cutting you off before the evening’s shot. Some couple’s like to set time limits of 15 minutes or a half hour each to talk about their day; although, there’s no reason you have to follow that guide.
If your vent partner isn’t particularly vocal, encourage them to speak up. Setting an egg timer before starting the conversation can also take some of the pressure off the other person to speak up. Just make sure to point out that their help in keeping work issues out of your personal life will help you both in the long run.