Part of setting healthy boundaries for your business and communication is leaving work at work. It’s often easy enough to go home and relax when you’ve had a good day, but what about those days when nothing seems to go right?
Are you confident in your abilities to not keep working to try and solve the problems or at least to not dwell on the negative significantly?
Performance consultant Adam Fraser emphasizes the importance of creating a “third space” that’s not work (the first space) or home (the second space). This transitional space, which is not necessarily an actual physical space, is how/where you unwind and relax before truly entering the second space. It helps you avoid bringing your worries or attitude from a bad day in the first space into your home life.
Fraser also makes it clear that even if you live alone, you should still prioritize a third space. Just because you may not have family or roommates around, your attitude from the work day could severely impact how you function once you get home.
In this third space you need to be able to reflect, rest, and reset before entering the second space. Establishing a third space also contributes to setting healthy communication boundaries, so keep those in mind when planning your own third space.
Here’s a short list of “third space” options you could try to reinforce the boundaries between work and home.
Commuting: Whether you drive yourself or take public transportation, use that travel time to work through your thoughts before getting home. To make your commute a little more restful, include small additions like listening to certain music or podcasts. Or intentionally do the opposite and travel in as much silence as possible. Do what works for you.
Working out: Going to the gym makes a great third space for some people. (I can be found at the climbing gym three or four times a week after work.) But a quick run around your neighborhood or walking at the park also count. Even doing yoga at home counts as creating a third space for you to transition.
Cooking: Not only does eating often make us feel better, it allows us to spend time reflecting without having to dwell on other thoughts. Once I learned about a third space, I immediately knew that I had already made cooking dinner into that space. I find it particularly helpful for staying in the present and not focusing too much on what happened that day – otherwise I might ruin my meal.
Reading: Take just 20 minutes to read the newspaper or your favorite magazine or make a little headway in your latest book. Reading is meditative for many people, and it allows you to rest your mind before tackling other projects.
Journaling: The time right after work is perfect for writing down what went well that day. Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for that day has even been proven to increase happiness levels. That way you’re also not getting stuck reflecting on the negative.
Creating a third space does not mean you won’t or shouldn’t talk about work at home, but it does allow you to get a better perspective before bringing too much negativity into your personal life. Using a third space means you’re preparing yourself to give as much to your personal life as you do your business.
No matter what you decide for your third space, be deliberate in that choice. Choose something you can do every day, or at least most days, and make it easy to choose it over and over again.