At a recent leadership course I attended (GLAM – fully recommend), the facilitator, Avril Henry, referred to the concept of the importance of creating a ‘Third Space’ as a tool to enhance life work harmony in the lives of busy people.
So, what is a ‘Third Space’ and why would you bother?
Well, the concept of The Third Space can out of research carried out by Dr Adam Fraser in partnership with Deakin University. The research concludes that the way we transition from one role or task to the next can determine our performance, balance and overall happiness; and that carrying over emotional baggage from one situation to the next can have disastrous effects on relationships and outcomes.
The Third Space is that moment of transition and if we create that space intentionally we can avoid taking our crappy experiences into the following situation, our role at work into our role as parent, partner or friend and complete as much as we can as we go.
In essence, if we imagine the different tasks or role that we engage in during our day as coats we put on, The Third Space is consciously taking a moment to take off one coat before putting on the next. This means we are always only wearing one coat.
I have come across this concept before in regard to finishing projects – take a break, reflect, evaluate and let go before taking up the next project but not in relation to everyday life. It is a very useful tool to stay present to the task or situation at hand.
When the the Third Space was introduced at GLAM, all of the participants found it easy to identify activities to create the space between work and home and some were already employing some very effective strategies to avoid bringing work into their home lives. Where it became more difficult was to find this space within their work day – between meetings, transitioning between tasks, calls and conversations.
So how do you find The Third Space in midst of a busy and demanding work life or disengage from work before your entering your home life?
Here are a few ideas.
5 ways to create The Third space between work and home
- Do some physical activity on the way home from work, with the intention of letting go of work ‘stuff’ eg go or a walk or run, go to the gym or play some sport.
- Take an uninterrupted shower before engaging its family members (emphasis on uninterrupted – this will need an agreement with family members, “only if there's blood or threat to human life”).
- Stop at a café for a beverage on the way home to let go of your day – perhaps take a few moments to journal reflections on your day eg what went well, what didn’t, what you can do better, how.
- Do some yoga and/or meditation.
- Let go of each incident in your day with your breath – breathe in and remember the incident, breathe out and let it go.
5 ways to create The Third Space through your day
- After a difficult meeting sit quietly and become aware of your breath, breathe in and remember an aspect of the meeting, breathe out and release the emotion. Continue until the emotion has been released, then record the actions and reflections of the meeting.
- In between tasks, consciously stop and close off a task in your mind before beginning another and make an agreement with yourself to make sure this is complete before moving on.
- Break up your work time in to thirty minute ‘sessions’ and work solidly on a single project for the whole thirty minutes then stop, record any unfinished bits or bits that need to be attended, then get up and stretch.
- Only receive phone calls between tasks and record any details from the call immediately so you are not interrupting your focus or carrying your whole work life with you in your head.
- Breathe – breathe in, pause, breathe out pause, rinse and repeat focussing on allowing the out breath to get longer, until you are ready to climb the next mountain.
Remember toilets are great Third Spaces if you have difficulty getting space at work or home – generally people don't interrupt you in the toilet and there is usually a lock (and if there isn't, get one).
I hope you enjoy finding your Third Spaces and you want to share your experiences or Third Spaces I haven't mentioned, please comment below or send me an email.
Remember: when you are transitioning between roles and tasks, sit in The Third Space until you have changed your coat.
If you want to know more about The Third Space with Dr Adam Fraser, go to www.thethirdspace.com.au.
If you would know more about Avril Henry and GLAM, go to www.avrilhenry.com.
Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.