Putting my life in boxes

In the world B.C. (before children), starting a new job meant that I would spend almost all of my waking hours digging through files and paperwork to get familiar with all aspects of the position.

In addition to the time I spent at work, I would bring home piles of files and books to read when I had finished making dinner and cleaning up.  Since it was a new job, I was eager to learn all I could as quickly as I could.

Fast forward now to the world A.C. (after children)…

While I still am passionate about the work I do, and just as eager to learn as much as possible, I actually have another “full-time job” when I return home.

In the past, I could toss together a quick homemade meal, clean up, and still have time to actually watch TV. (Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it?)

Now, as soon as my “day job” was done, I would start the chaos of my “evening job.”

Pick up the kids from day care, rush home to make a quick dinner and toss things in the sink before we started baths, reading, and bedtime routines. Oh, and don’t forget the tiny little moments filled with hugs, kisses, and giggles.

By the time the kids were actually asleep, there was a very dirty house waiting for some attention. Clothes to wash, dishes to do, lunches to pack, toys to pick up, bills to pay, and on, and on, and on.

If I managed to get any time to read my files from work, it usually resulted in me falling asleep in my chair within five minutes.

Does this mean I care any less about my job? NO!

Does this mean I am not as good at my job? NO!

What this does mean is that I have had to learn to put the different parts of my life into ‘boxes;’ compartmentalize is the big word for it, but I will use ‘boxes’ instead.

When I am at work, I do my best to focus entirely on the work that needs to be done. My task lists and reminders are kept focused and automated as much as possible so that I streamline my work and get more done in less time.

When I am at home, I focus on my kids and family, and do my best to not bring work home with me.

Of course, there are times I need to make a call for my children while I am at work, but that is typically on my lunch so I can switch to my ‘mom box’ for that bit of work. I also can come up with some pretty terrific ideas for work when I am letting my mind wander while washing dishes.

So, yes, there is a bit of cross-over, but I still do my best to keep each of those things separate.

I also have a ‘box’ for myself – exercise, walks, reading, and those things that are sacred to me. This is time just for me and I don’t want my ‘mom box’ or my ‘work box’ to mess with this time.

For me, this is what I have had to do so that I can still feel as though I am taking care of all of the important aspects of my life. This may not work for everyone, but it has worked for me.

As always, it is a work in progress (and sometimes, really hard work!) How do you keep yourself focused while at work and home? What tricks do you use to get the most out of your time?


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