The concept of a workaholic is one that’s as old as the workplace itself. But these days, with email, texting, slack, and the ever-present phone in hand, it seems that everyone is carrying work around with them wherever they go. Disconnecting on the weekends can feel impossible.
“Worrying about work on the weekends — and weekday evenings — can be a major struggle for fathers who want to be excellent providers for their families,” says Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and the author of the upcoming book Joy from Fear. “So many men work tirelessly to provide financial safety for their families.”
However, the inability to separate oneself from their office responsibilities can put an undue strain on marriage and family life, causing relationships to suffer. So, it’s essential to disconnect. As this is easier said than done, we asked Dr. Manly for helpful hints on how best to leave the office behind on the weekends.
Say It With Us “Work Is Not My Identity”
It’s easy to look at yourself as a provider first and foremost and that mindset can dictate your actions, forcing you to continue to work harder and harder in order to fulfill that role. However, it’s important to remember that you’re also role models and that kids are learning how to behave by watching you.
“If you are focused on work even when at home, your children will feel that work should be the priority in life,” she says. “Ask yourself, ‘Am I being the type of worker, partner, and father I want my children to model?’”
Set Micro Goals
We all want to live a balanced life, but Manly says that the best way to make that happen is to actually envision how to make that balance happen. She suggests imagining the ideal work schedule and then setting specific micro goals in order to make that happen.
For example, if your ideal schedule is to leave for work by 7 am and leave the office by 5 pm, then first set the goal of making sure you leave every morning at that appointed time. Be specific and commit to starting on a particular date. “You are far more likely to make needed changes when your goals are detailed, specific, and time-oriented,” she says.
Leave Work Behind. Literally.
Everyone brings a bag of some kind with them to work and, when they leave for the day, the bag comes along, usually filled with ancillary paperwork and other assignments to noodle over after hours. Manly suggests not letting that particular vampire in the house. Whatever work materials you have in your car when you pull in the driveway, leave them there, she says. Chances are they’ll keep until the morning. “This act will literally and metaphorically allow you to keep your work outside the home,” Manly says. “If possible, leave your laptop in a space where you won’t be tempted to access it for work.”
Give Yourself a Break
When you’re home, take some time to indulge yourself in a hobby or something pleasurable that you enjoy doing with your partner. Whether it be taking a walk, cooking or working around the house, whatever you enjoy doing, give yourself some time to do it after work.
“Give yourself a well-earned reward every day,” says Manly. “With a bit of mental reframing, you can also come to see your time with your family and your partner as an opportunity for rest, connection, and relaxation.”
Seek Out True Value
For many men, the workplace is where they feel the most respected and empowered. The home is, in some ways, less familiar territory. As a result, many people tend to try and stay within that work zone, the zone of empowerment, for as long as possible. In order to break out of that habit, Manly says you have to will yourself to step away, no matter how frightening it might be. “With practice and play, you’ll find that you are very competent and valuable in many areas of your life — not just work.”
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