Are you off or on?
We’re gonna keep this one light tonight. Been kinda heavy lately here on Higher Thoughts.
Today, I’m raving about work. And home. And how they relate.
Doesn’t it seem like we’re always kind of… on?
Never totally ON and focused. But never off.
Even while we lay in bed at night, we’re checking emails on our phones and writing them in our heads.
Experiment with me...
Try being either totally on or totally off when it comes to the ‘thing’ you do.
When you’re working, work.
But when you’re off, turn off.
Be in the car on the way home.
When you get home, as soon as you walk through that door, breathe.
Mr Rogers had it figured out. He had the same routine every single time he came home.
Work jacket and work shoes went away.
Housecoat and house shoes went on.
He was in-uniform when he was at work.
And he was in-uniform when he was home.
And look how chill he always was. That poor guy must be rolling over in his grave right now seeing how we manage our lives…
The reverse is also true for work. What do you do — what ritual do you have — for when you go to do your work? Steven Pressfield talks about it beautifully in The War of Art…
I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I’ve got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces that my niece Meredith gave me. I head back to my office, crank up the computer. My lucky hooded sweatshirt is draped over the chair, with the lucky charm I got from a gypsy in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for only eight bucks in francs, and my lucky LARGO name tag that came from a dream I once had. I put it on. On my thesaurus is my lucky cannon that my friend Bob Versandi gave me from Morro Castle, Cuba. I point it toward my chair, so it can fire inspiration into me. I say my prayer, which is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey, translation by T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, which my dear mate Paul Rink gave me and which sits near my shelf with the cuff links that belonged to my father and my lucky acorn from the battlefield at Thermopylae. It’s about ten-thirty now. I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so. I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I’ve done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there’s a fire and I have to run for it. I power down. It’s three, three-thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.
So there it is, folks…
Create whatever ritual it takes in order to be home when you’re home (and at work when you’re working).
I know a lot of us find it extremely hard to do this (I, for one, am totally not great at this). Especially those of us who own our own work or who work from home. Who don’t have the luxury of clocking in and clocking out on someone else’s dime (yes, it is a luxury at a certain level). We’re always running, always going. When we’re at work, we’re missing home and when we’re home, we’re stressing about work.
Turn it on or shut it off. Go all in and go all out. Pay each the homage it needs, both work and home. They each deserve your all. Give it to them.
Something worth being mindful of and working towards.