WhiteSpace at Home
It's politically correct to acknowledge that one's home life is relevant toward business success. But one layer down, the deeper, private conviction is often just the opposite — that the most talented and successful folks can simply use will and discipline to perform at their best regardless of what life feels like on the evenings and weekends. Which truth is truer? As usual, we prefer to let the numbers break the tie.
The numbers show that people who feel a sense of balance at home work 21% harder than their off-kilter counterparts. People whose home lives make them happy are 108% more engaged, 50% more productive and 50% more motivated. And companies that actively promote good work/life balance have 23% higher annual net earnings per employee.
So how can WhiteSpace help you get there? We begin by calming the domestic busyness, trimming schedules and rewriting expectations. We explore digital habits so obstacles to intimacy are reduced. And we learn to spend unscheduled time together — just hanging out.
By deepening the connections at home we send a happy, balanced, invigorated population back to work each morning. See the box at the top right for some of our favorite teachings on WhiteSpace with family and in parenting.
You are playing with your kids or sitting with your girlfriend and your cell phone makes a noise. Every fiber of your being tingles. The dopamine rush fills your body and practically hurls you in the direction of the phone. Fight Pavlov. Don’t move a muscle. Don't even look over. Try to engage deeply in the activity before you and let the awareness of the waiting notification fade. Repeat 100,000 times or until habit.
Never Too Late
Those with grown kids who were busy and distracted as parents worry that they "missed it." But if everyone is still breathing, it's never too late to connect. Call them. Hop a plane and surprise them. Plan a trip together with lots and lots of WhiteSpace. Yes, it's possible for relationships to be damaged beyond repair — but most are not. They can be reignited with the passion to do so.
Child or Trophy
How does academic excellence hijack our thoughts? Are we cheerleading and tiger-mothering our children into a state of exhaustion? Are we killing creativity with constant infusion of academics? Keep in mind, parents of younger kids, that someday you'll reach The Day After College. That afternoon they'll stand, surrounded by boxes, and realize the 16-year ascension is over. What do you want them to care about then?
No Outlaw Emotions
If someone at your house gets angry, petulant, grumpy or blue, you may be tempted to help them turn off that feeling ASAP — to fix it. But if we want to be connected to our loved ones, we can't selectively shut them down. Validate all emotions and don't try to un-frustrate them, un-anger them or un-sad them. Allow a bit of WhiteSpace and experiment with non-directive phrases like, "Wow, that must be tough" or "I know the feeling."
That's Not App-etizing
Do you hear Barry White music when you're alone with your smart phone? We're falling in love with our devices and need them near us every second. Let's make the family table one exception. As you smell that lasagna come out of the oven, say to yourself: For just 30 minutes, I will cut the umbilical cord to my lovely-sexy-sparkly-awesome-app-filled handheld device and be present for those I love.
We often steal the thrill of discovery from children by flaunting our mental encyclopedia. Next time they're figuring something out, abstain from slapping down the "right answer." Leave a little WhiteSpace and just reply, "I wonder...?" Sit in the silence as your little thinker chews on the problem and explores options. You'll soon be running for a pen to capture the marvelous things they dream up — all by themselves.
Digital Run Away
The problem of young people being perennially plugged-in is one of the biggest parental woes. But teens and tweens don't just stay electronically attached out of habit, but also as a form of escape — often from us, their wonderful parents! This week, make a point to abstain from your most annoying parental behaviors and stay casual, present and positive. See how many switches turn off in the process!
Stop Juggling, Start Savoring
Work/life balance implies an equation, seeking the perfect allocations of time. But the deck's stacked against us. Work is heavy and potent in memory. At home we lack urgency, and are soooo tired. We can experience time with loved ones like dinner while driving. We remember the burger, but not really. Creating WhiteSpace at home makes each moment richer. True connection weighs down the balance scales and gives us more residual joy as we head off each morning.