3 Ways To Keep Work At Work & Protect Your Family Time

I remember coming home from work one evening several years ago and walking directly from the garage to the kitchen counter without saying hi to anyone. I put down my backpack, took out my laptop, opened my email and started to write.

After a few minutes, my then five-year-old son Alec asked me what I was doing. I told him I didn’t get all my work done at the office, so I needed to finish a few things at home. After a short pause, he said, “Well, maybe they can put you in a slower group at work.” Well said!

How many of us secretly want to be put into a slower group at work?
One of the biggest mistakes I made when my kids were younger was working around the clock.

Lets take a short trip back in time. 20 years ago our parents couldn’t work around the clock. There were limits built in that prevented them from working all the time. The phone was attached to the wall. Sports season actually had a beginning AND and end and there was no such thing as a “push notification” unless you were referring to the doorbell!

Today’s technology allows us to work whenever, wherever and however we want and we need to find a way to stop it.

Modern technology blurs the lines because we are rarely, if ever, are totally unplugged. We don’t really ever completely leave work because when we do, work comes looking for us! Emails to our phones; a text from our boss or team member; a direct message from Twitter or a Facebook alert. Work is always on…if you want it to be. What will it take for us to leave work at work? Here are three ideas to get us going.

1. Mindfulness

Being 100% present in the moment focusing entirely on who is in front of us right now.


2. Boundaries

Leaving our smartphones in the car or turning them off while at home or setting them on quiet and placing them in a location where they won’t interrupt us. The difficulty is we can’t leave them alone.


3. Self-Control

This is really the issue, isn’t it? It was much easier 25 years ago when our phones were permanently attached to a wall along with a cord that kept us close. Self-control was “pre-programmed” for us to some extent. Our smartphones have become our third arm, our second brain, our new relationship.

Proverbs 25:28 NLTse reminds us that, “A person without self- control, is like a city with broken- down walls.” There is nothing to protect us, the cords have been removed. I guess when it comes to self-control Nike is right, we need to “Just Do It.”

Without mindfulness, boundaries and self-control our world succumbs to a hectic lifestyle. We feel like our world is in a perpetual state of unraveling. We are a frenetic society made up of frenetic families. It’s going to take incredible commitment and diligence on a daily basis to form habits for a healthy home. Here is a great story that illustrates this point:

Each night when she came home from work, Gina spent an hour playing with her six-year-old daughter, Amanda. Everything else came second: dinner, chores and even -Amanda’s homework. Playtime was a ritual. But one night, Gina had to bring home extra work; playtime with Amanda would have to wait. Looking around for something to occupy her daughter, Gina found a magazine with a world map on its cover. She tore the map into pieces and spread them on a table. “Once you’ve put the puzzle together, we can play,” she said, assuming the task would keep Amanda busy for hours.

A half-hour later, Amanda announced she was finished, and sure enough, she had pieced together the entire map. “How did you do that?” her mom asked. “It was easy, Mommy,” Amanda replied. “There was a picture of a family on the back, and when I put the family together, the whole world just fell into place.” (1)

Amanda may be on to something. When we put the family together, the world just seems to come together.

What idea will you practice this week? Mindfulness, boundaries or self-control?
How will you practice it?

(1) Story adapted from “The Whole World Came Together,” The 30 Best Inspiring Anecdotes of All Times, 1998–99.  http://www.businesslead.com/msb/anecdotes.htm, (accessed August 2012).