You have a work life. You have a home life. And you have, in all probability, forgotten how to keep them separate. Martha Beck discusses the importance of building a barrier between the way you make your living and the way you live.
The time has come to write. I feel this on an almost cellular level. Why? Because I'm sitting in my writing chair, wearing my writing glasses, chewing my writing gum. Now, I could sit in this chair, wear these glasses, and chew this gum while knitting tea cozies, juggling jelly beans, and husking corn (just not at the same time). But I wouldn't. See, I write at home, and I've learned the hard way that unless I strictly divide my writing time from everything else, my work bleeds into my home life. Then I can never relax, because, just like an ax murderer in a horror movie, my work is always lurking.
These days almost all of us work at home to some extent. Maybe you spend evenings brooding over spreadsheets from the office. Maybe you're in the house all day doing the hardest work imaginable: caring for the young, the old, or the ill. Or maybe, like me, you have a job -- sort of -- but no official physical workplace. All of which is to say that when I talk about "home" versus "work," I mean the activities that replenish your energy versus the ones that drain it. In an age when bleed-through is the new normal, it's more crucial than ever to separate the two. Here are some strategies that help me.
1. Establish a replenishing inner "state of home."
Some people spend years in an office cubicle without ever feeling the energetic involvement of real work; others do brilliant, inspired work without ever leaving their bed. This is because both work and home are first and foremost states of mind. So to begin separating your work life and home life, we'll concentrate on creating a mental "state of home" inside your head.
To do this, focus on memories that feel relaxing, nourishing, replenishing -- in a word, homey. Remember baking with your grandmother, or talking with your sister, or snuggling in bed with a loved one (fabulous sex is an excellent way to feel at home, as is cuddling with your beloved collie -- just not at the same time).
If you don't have many homey memories, your mental state of home may feel tepid at first. Persist! Remember the most comforting times and places you can: the branches of the tall tree where bullies couldn't reach you, Uncle Joe's bomb shelter, the warmest corner of the prison yard. (Ideally, you're looking for a sense of joyful replenishment, but happy relaxation is nearly as good, pleasant neutrality will do, familiar boredom is better than nothing, and defensible concealment -- well, you get the idea.)
Once you come up with three memories that qualify, hold in mind the feelings they bring, while silently repeating, "Home. Home. Home."
2. Establish a productive inner "state of work."
If you're lucky, you do the kind of work that sparks your creativity and makes you want to meet its challenges. For me that work is writing: Although I find it hellishly hard, it's the first thing I turn to when I need to express myself or understand the world. I love its very difficulty.
Most of my clients, however, are work Nazis. They think they should force themselves to do things they loathe. If this is your mental "state of work," it's also the way you'll feel about your job, and it will follow you home -- likely in the form of depression or rage. You absolutely must create a mental work state more like what psychologists call flow, the total absorption that comes from doing something that interests you at the upper edge of your ability level.
Even if your current job feels more like imprisonment than flow, you can still create a productive mental work state. Start by remembering any kind of effort that absorbed you enough to make time disappear. If after racking your brain nothing comes to mind, periods of interested problem solving will do nearly as well, and moments of productive effort will suffice in a pinch. Tedious repetition is as low as you want to go here (if your job is so awful that it doesn't yield even an hour of tolerable slog, it's time to hire a life coach). Now focus on the three best work activities you can remember, smoosh them together in your head, and silently repeat, "Work. Work. Work."
3. Use your mental states to create physical spaces.
The next step in keeping your work and home lives healthy and pristine is creating physical environments that support each side. Let's start with your homespace. Find the spot in your current domicile that best matches the feeling of your mental home state -- a room, a corner, the box your refrigerator came in. Bring into this space any objects or beings that make it feel even homier. These may include your kids, your parakeet, your softest quilt, and your dog-eared copy of Fifty Shades of Grey (just not at the same time).
Next, use the same strategy to create a workspace, whether you're a full-time parent or a merchant marine. Find a space that -- no pun intended -- works for you, and bring in the people and things that make you feel productive: a fresh notebook, a team of coworkers, a mule. I myself am motivated by high-quality tools (anything from a fancy-schmancy computer to a hammer), absolute solitude, and of course my writing chair, writing glasses, and writing gum -- the combination makes me itch to work. Whatever places, people, and things support your internal work state, gather them!
4. Separate your homespace from your workspace.
Once you've assembled a bunch of homey things in your homiest possible place, and a bunch of worky things in your workiest possible place, separate them like a Puritan chaperone dividing teenagers. Even if your office is 90 miles away from your house, some worky things will inevitably infiltrate your home -- your job is to keep them out of your designated homespace. If you work in your house or apartment, you'll need to be extra vigilant. When you're not working, put all work-related things out of sight. Cover them with a sheet, if necessary.
By the same token, don't bring a lot of homey things into your workspace. Doing so will distract and confuse you. There's a reason service dogs mustn't be petted or played with when they're wearing their work vests: They need to be clear that they're on the job. But when the vests come off, service-dog owners must play with their animals in order to keep them from becoming exhausted and depressed. You're the same way: Having clear boundaries will help you work enthusiastically, then truly rest.
5. Actually use your homespace and workspace.
Only one thing now remains: time in the saddle. The more time you spend doing only homey things in your homespace and only worky things in your workspace, the more you'll develop the state-dependent memory that will trigger the associations you want in either place. When you enter your homespace, you'll automatically relax, effortlessly dropping effort and negative office juju. (If the urge to think or talk about work arises, note it, then picture it evaporating like steam.) And when it's time to work, the genuine R&R you've enjoyed will help everything you do feel more like flow.
6. Watch the Zen master in you emerge.
If you don't find this exercise helpful, you're certainly free to keep day-trading while nursing your twins, or stacking paperwork on every surface in your home, including the oven racks. But I think if you experiment with the methods I've described, you'll come to appreciate them. One definition of Zen is simply "doing one thing at a time" -- which goes a long way toward explaining why Zen masters look so calm and live so long. I want you to love going to work, and to love being home. Just not at the same time.
Martha Beck's latest book is Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (Free Press).
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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
A New Kind Of Cover Girl
In March 2013, Sheryl released her new book, “Lean In,” and it instantly shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list -- and landed her on the cover of Time magazine.
Advocating For Women In The Workplace
Sheryl had never spoken about women’s issues in public before her TED talk on “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders,” and she was advised against it by her peers, who claimed that it would draw attention to the fact that she is a woman. Sheryl laughed and said, “I think they know I’m a women.” The video of her TED talk instantly went viral. Overnight, Sheryl established herself as a leading advocate for women in the workplace.
Born To Lead
The oldest of three children, Sheryl possessed undeniable leadership skills from an early age. But while young boys are often encouraged to lead, Sheryl was regularly referred to as “bossy.” Part of her mission today is to teach parents to encourage their young daughters to develop their leadership skills, instead of dismissing them as overly aggressive.
Standing In Her Own Way
For her whole early life, Sheryl felt that she needed to hold herself back from being too successful or appearing too smart. In high school, she was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by her peers, but was embarrassed by the recognition. She asked a friend on the yearbook staff to remove that title from her name.
Welcome To Silicon Valley
After serving as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Treasury Department, Sheryl made her way to Silicon Valley, where she accepted a position as Vice President of Google’s Global Online Sales & Operations. At the time, Google was a small start-up, but during her stint with the company, it became an unprecedented success.
A Fateful Meeting
Sheryl met Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a Christmas party held by Yahoo COO Dan Rosensweig in late 2007. Although he wasn’t actively looking for a new COO for Facebook, Mark knew that Sheryl would be perfect for the job. After several months of becoming acquainted with one another, Sheryl left her post at Google to become Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer.
Marriage As A Real Partnership
In various interviews, Sheryl has stressed to women the importance of choosing a partner who supports their career and agrees to assist with housework and childcare. Her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, possesses these qualities, which allows the pair to operate as a team.
A Well-Educated Woman
A graduate of Harvard College, Sheryl earned her A.B. in economics and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School. In May 2011, she spoke at the commencement ceremony at Barnard College about achieving equality in the workplace and seeking ways to find work/life balance.
Sheryl is no stranger to economics. At Harvard, she met mentor Larry Summers, who later recruited her to serve as his research assistant at the World Bank. Here she appears on stage alongside Danielle Gray, deputy director of the National Economic Council; Mari Pangestu, Indonesia's trade minister; and moderator Chris Jansing at the APEC Women and the Economy Summit in September 2011.
Working For The President
After a stint as a business consultant, Sheryl served as the Chief of Staff for the United States Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton from 1996 to 2001. Here, she joins the former president and Katie Couric at the Women for Women International Gala at the Museum of Modern Art in November 2011.
Chosen By The Commander In Chief
President Obama listens intently to Sheryl’s advice during a meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The council was established to promote growth in American business and equip American workers with the skills they need to succeed.
Women Who Have Leaned In
Arianna Huffington has been a strong supporter of Sheryl’s “Lean In” message, which calls for women to eliminate self-doubt and focus on their personal well-being. Here, Sheryl joins Arianna at the 2011 Matrix Awards, which honor women in communications and the arts.
An Evening At The White House
Who has Sheryl referred to as her biggest personal role model? Her mother, of course! Here, she escorts her mom, Adele Sandberg, to the White House for the State Dinner for South Korea in October 2011.
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In Sheryl’s current position at Facebook, she oversees business operations, which includes everything from marketing and sales to public policy and human resources. Here Sheryl speaks to an audience of marketing professionals at a Facebook event in February 2012.
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Now a highly sought-after speaker on the world stage, Sheryl participated in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January 2013.
Powerful Women Team Up
Sheryl spoke about women in business with Chelsea Clinton as part of the promotion for her new book, “Lean In” in March 2013.
Post 50 Female Legends And Icons
Post 50 Female Legends And Icons
The Disney Princess
<strong>Who:</strong> Ann Sweeney (53) <strong>Why:</strong> In a world where young girls dream of being like Cinderella, Snow White, and Jasmine -- we can't help but think how cool it is that there's a new Disney princess to look up to: Ann Sweeney. As the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney-ABC Television Group, she is a woman in a predominately male business. Sweeney uses this platform to work in organizations such as Cable Positive - a group of CEOs that work with the media's resources in the fight against AIDS. Photo: Getty
The Fashion Icon
<strong>Who:</strong> Grace Coddington (70) <strong>Why:</strong> The Creative Director for U.S. <em>Vogue</em> stole the show in the 2009 documentary "The September Issue" where she fearlessly goes head to head with <a href="http://www.themortonreport.com/celebrity/notables/is-vogue-editor-in-chief-anna-wintour-shopping-memoir/" target="_hplink">"ice-queen"</a> Anna Wintour. It goes without saying, her trademark hair is pretty amazing, too. Photo: Getty
<strong>Who:</strong> Wallis Annenberg (72) <strong>Why:</strong> She's not your average philanthropic socialite! The heiress publisher-turned-public benefactor donates her time and money to making cities like Los Angeles well rounded and beautiful. Bob Colacello's portrait of Miss Annenberg for <em><a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/style/features/2009/10/wallis-annenberg200910" target="_hplink">Vanity Fair</a></em> is one of our favorites. Photo: Getty
The California Girl
<strong>Who:</strong> Dianne Feinstein (78) <strong>Why:</strong> In many ways, it seems the San-Francisco born Feinstein has been a heavy-hitter since the day she was born. The former (and first-female) San Francisco Mayor is a California girl thru-and-thru who has survived divorce, death, and even representing the Democrats in the Senate. Photo: Getty
Who: Oprah Winfrey (57) Why: Oh Oprah, how do we love thee? Let me count the ways... besides being "arguably the world's most powerful woman," according to <em><a href="http://entertainment.time.com/" target="_hplink">TIME</a></em>, Oprah has a philanthropic compulsion to match her monetary earnings. Through her <a href="http://www.oprah.com/index.html" target="_hplink">Angel Network</a> and <a href="http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Oprah-Winfrey-Leadership-Academy-for-Girls" target="_hplink">Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy</a>, she has supported women's shelters, built youth centers and homes, created academic scholarships and established more than 50 schools around the world. Photo: Getty
The Zen Master
<strong>Who:</strong> Donna Karan (63) <strong>Why:</strong> The international wellness crusader started her <a href="http://www.urbanzen.org/" target="_hplink">Urban Zen Foundation</a> (UZF) in the months following her husband's death to cancer. The UZF and the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy programs strive to integrate of yoga, meditation and aromatherapy into conventional treatment regimens. Photo: Getty
The Resilient Author
<strong>Who: </strong>Joan Didion (76) <strong>Why:</strong> After the literary icon behind "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" and "Play It As It Lays" endured the deaths of both her husband and daughter - she gave us the gift of "The Year Of Magical Thinking". "Blue Nights," Joan Didion's memoir about her daughter, Quintana, will be released on Nov. 1, 2011. Photo: Getty
<strong>Who:</strong> Maria Shriver (55) <strong>Why:</strong> After experiencing public betrayal, Shriver really showed her grace. She's won a Peabody Award and two Emmys for her broadcast journalism, but she's won the heart of her fans through her empathy and reliability. Post-scandal, she's back on the saddle again -- Shriver <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/14/maria-shriver-interviews-wallis-annenberg_n_963415.html#s361877" target="_hplink">interviewed</a> Wallis Annenberg for <em>Los Angeles Magazine</em>'s inaugural "Women's Issue". Photo: Getty
The Go-To Girl
<strong>Who: </strong>Barbara Walters (82) <strong>Why: </strong>She's undeniably the queen of interviews having questioned the likes of Monica Lewinsky, Hugo Chavez, Anna Wintour, Katherine Hepburn and Anwar Al Sadat -- to name a few. Now holding the reigns on <em>The View</em> she's as strong as she's ever been. Photo: Getty
<strong>Who:</strong> Indra Nooyi (55) <strong>Why:</strong> The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo was the 2011 <a href="http://www.blogher.com/" target="_hplink">BlogHer</a> Keynote speaker and blew the crowd away. Business Week quoted Roger Enrico as saying, "Indra can drive as deep and hard as anyone I've ever met, but she can do it with a sense of heart and fun." Photo: Getty
The Funny Girl
<strong>Who:</strong> Ellen Degeneres (53) <strong>Why:</strong> The 13-time Emmy winner has more than a fantastic sense of humor going for her. Not only did she risk <em>everything</em> to come out and conquer LGBT issues, she consistently supports the charitable efforts of the <a href="http://ellen.warnerbros.com/2011/05/please_help_the_tornado_victims_0525.php" target="_hplink">American Red Cross</a> and the <a href="http://ellen.warnerbros.com/2011/09/donate_to_farm_sanctuary_0916.php" target="_hplink">Farm Sanctuary</a>. Photo: Getty
<strong>Who:</strong> Bonnie Raitt (61) <strong>Why:</strong> The best-selling, classic blues-playing rockstar follows in rebel music history with her long-standing political activism. She frequently speaks out against politicians she doesn't support and just as often she praises those she admires. In 2000, she was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame - for a game that mostly men play - but we aren't knocking her dad, John, because we loved him too. Photo: Getty
The Academy Queen
<strong>Who:</strong> Meryl Streep (62) <strong>Why:</strong> Not only does she have 16 Academy Award nominations and 25 Golden Globe nominations, but she often has won these accolades playing roles that defy the gender roles assigned to women. Streep plays Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming film, "The Iron Lady". Photo: Getty
Who: Hillary Clinton (63) Why: The current Secretary of State is no stranger to gossip. She has always risen above adversity with dignity and style. Not only was she an active First Lady, but she did as we know, run for President herself. No shame in that! Photo: Getty
The Power Player
Who: Diane Sawyer (65) Why: The former host of <em>Good Morning America </em>and current anchor of <em>ABC World News</em> has interviewed famous people such as Robert McNamara, Nancy Pelosi, Richard Nixon, Nancy Reagan, Madonna, and Roman Polanski. She was one accused of being "Deep Throat" and has fought the "Mommy War" rumors with ease. Photo: Getty
The 'Leading' Lady
<strong>Who:</strong> Angela Merkel (57) <strong>Why:</strong> The current Chancellor of Germany has epitomized a female in a position of leadership. <em><a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2066367_2066369_2066098,00.html #ixzz1bTuNodMU " target="_hplink">TIME Magazine</a></em> once said, she has "a spirit of compromise in the service of a genuine ambition -- and fed by a desire for openness." According to <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/worlds-100-powerful-women-angela-merkel-hillary-clinton/story?id=14364193" target="_hplink">ABC News</a>, Merkel is the "undisputed leader of the EU." Not bad. Photo: Getty
<strong>Who:</strong> Jill Abramson (57) <strong>Why:</strong> We call her "The Pioneer" because Jill Abramson is the first female editor of the <em>New York Times</em> in the newspaper's history. Some rumors have her as difficult to work with and others proclaim her dedication to NYC based on the subway token tattoo she has on her right shoulder (via <em><a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/jill-abramson/" target="_hplink">Forbes</a></em>). Either way you swing it, she's a woman who is revolutionizing the way women are viewed in media and publishing. Photo: Patrick McMullan
<strong>Who:</strong> Condoleezza Rice (56) <strong>Why:</strong> The former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor did not forget the importance of strong educational roots. After her time concluded at the White House, Rice returned to Stanford as a Political Economy Professor in the Graduate School of Business. Rice has been prolific in female society roles. She is on the Board at both the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Photo: Getty
The Girl's Girl
<strong>Who:</strong> Gloria Steinem (77) <strong>Why:</strong> As the leader of the Women's Liberation Movement, Steinem has been at this for a while -- and she's not backing down. She co-founded the Women's Media Center, the Coalition of Labor Union Women and <em>Ms. Magazine</em>. She is writing a book about her activism, with the working title of "Road to the Heart: America As if Everyone Mattered." Photo: Getty
The Movie Star
<strong>Who:</strong> Michelle Pfeiffer (53) <strong>Why:</strong> The one-time Cat woman has shied away from press in the past, but her recent cover for <em>Elle Magazine</em>'s "Women In Hollywood 2011" issue has reminded us all that she never really left the limelight. Photo: Getty