Why Separating Work from Home is Easier Than You Think

Yes, it is possible to separate work from home if you are an executive. There are conscious principle decisions you can make as well as practical ones that will make this easier for you.

If your spouse, family and personal life are a priority then it is easier to separate work from home most of the time. However, when we are using work as a means of avoiding emotional intimacy with our loved ones, then we may well choose to focus more on work. A senior manager once commented that it is easier to deal with work issues than her children’s emotional issues!

Here are some ideas to separate work from home:

Give yourself permission to switch off from work when you are at home. This will make it easier to separate work from home. Executives are not paid to work or be available 24 hours a day. So you have a right to private time. When you are driving home, make a conscious decision to switch off from work and refocus your attention on your time at home.

Change from your work clothes into casual clothes when you arrive home. This will help you separate work from home more easily. By doing this you are leaving the energy of work behind. You are also giving your family the message that you are out of work mode. Make it a conscious activity: recognise that you are taking on a different role at home now.  Put your cell-phone off or place it in your office. If you continue to take calls after hours you are giving colleagues or clients a clear message that you are available after hours. This will happen at the expense of being fully present for your loved ones and your own need for a break. Set a cut-off time for taking work calls.

Many executives like to have 30 minutes of “me” time when they arrive home. This time is to unwind before they are available emotionally for their family. This mini break will make it easier to separate work from home. So use this time to unwind: walk around the garden, go for a quick walk or jog, take the dog for a run, throw ball with your youngsters, etc. This time is just to switch off for a short while.

One executive commented that he used to become quite abrupt with his teenage son when he arrived home. He realised he was putting his need for some “time out” before his relationship with his son. When he realised this, he was able to make himself available for his son. His self-awareness made him more conscious of the impact of his behaviour.

Make a conscious decision to see yourself in a different role at home. This will help you separate work from home. At work you are the busy executive who has a team of people to whom you can delegate and where you are in control. Re-frame your role at home. At home you are the person who is interested in what has been happening in the lives of your wife and children.  A client complained of a “marriage by objectives” as his corporate wife used to come home and expect a progress report from him on his own business! So be weary of how you come across with your loved ones.

Make a conscious decision to connect with everyone at home. Remember deep down each of us has a need to be heard and to be seen as being unique. Check in with everyone at home for a few minutes. Instead of going to your study or the TV room, pop in to your children’s rooms and see what they are doing. See your role at home more as the listener not the fixer of problems. Most times our children just want to chat and share their experiences. Consciously take a back seat at home or tackle home projects with the help of your children.

If you travel a great deal you may make some principle decisions: e.g. to always have a meal together when you are at home, away from the television, your iPad and cell-phone. Many of my therapy clients comment on their absent fathers who worked long hours. They also comment on how their father was not involved in their upbringing and never attended school sports activities.

Bring a little consciousness to your work-life balance and see what positive shifts this brings to the dynamics at home.  If you feel you are falling a little short concerning work-life balance you may benefit from some family counselling.


Posted in CEO, Work-life balance.