The world is not conducive to balance. Mobile technology and ever increasing work loads have lead to a 24/7 work day. A Forbes report recently showed that 98% of employees perform work in family time. Also, with the current economic climate, companies are wanting more from their employees - not less.
Clearly we need a new approach. It starts by acknowledging that we are focusing on the wrong thing. Society in general have to stop focusing on balance. When we asked people why they wanted balance we got two main responses. They wanted it to be happier and have better relationships. According to this, saying you want balance is like saying you want to be on a diet. You don’t want to be on a diet, you want to lose weight, the diet is the vehicle to get you there. You don’t want balance, you want to be happy and have better relationships.
The problem is balance focuses on where you spend your time, it is about scheduling. Happiness and strong relationships are a result of the behaviour we exhibit in each interaction. As a result we need to focus less on where we spend our time and more on how we behave in the home.
Psychological research tells us that one of the biggest challenges to good behaviour in the home is that we bring the baggage of the day home and take it out on the family. They call this negative spill.
I believe the key to good behaviour in the home is what we do in the gap between work and home. I call this gap “The Third Space”. I partnered with Deakin University on a research project where we took 250 small business owners and measured their mood and behaviour in the home. The initial survey did not paint a pretty picture. Only 29 percent said that they came home in a good mood, with a positive mindset and exhibited constructive behaviour. We then asked them to perform three simple behaviours in the Third Space between work and home.
Reflect: This is where they reflected on and analysed the day. However they were encouraged to only focus on what they had achieved and what had gone well for them. Some people wrote this down in a note pad, others did it with people they commuted with, while some simply did it in their head.
Rest: They took time to relax and unwind. Being calm and present, allowed their physiology to recover from the stressful day. Some people read a book on the train, listened to their fav music in the car, relaxation music on their ipod on the bus. Others did a yoga class on the way home.
Reset: This is where they became clear about their intention for the home space and articulated the specific behaviours they wanted to exhibit. In other words how they wanted to ‘show up’ when they walked through the door. This one most people did in their head, where they visualised different behaviours and scenarios that they may content with in the home.
After a month of the participants applying this principle, we saw a whopping 41 percent improvement in behaviour in the home. When interviewed they conveyed that the improved interactions they had with friends and family led to a greater feeling of overall balance.
If you want more balance stop trying to push back against the world and control it. Rather focus on how you transition from work to home and ensure that you Reflect, Rest and Reset.