I’m a bit of a fan of the Happiness Conference (described by a colleague of mine as ‘that happy clappy thing’, but pretty excellent nonetheless…).

Lots of great speakers, fascinating data, and enough mind food to last me quite some time. One of my favourite speakers a few years ago was Dr Adam Fraser, who spoke about what he calls the third space – the time when we transition between one role or task to the next role or task.

He reckons that how we handle these transitions could be the key to happiness, creativity and productivity. I followed up by reading his book, and have experimented with some success on my own third spaces.

His work is based on research he did (with Deakin University) where he took 250 small business owners and measured their mood and behaviour in the home. Only 29 percent said that they came home in a good mood, with a positive mindset and constructive behaviour.

He then asked them to perform three simple behaviours in the third space between work and home:

Reflect

This is where they reflected on and analysed the day, with the focus on what they had achieved and what had gone well for them.

Rest

They took time to relax and unwind. Being calm and present allowed them to recover from the stressful day.

Reset

This is where they became clear about their intention for the home space and articulated how they wanted to ‘show up’ when they walked through the door.

After a month of the participants applying this principle, there was a 41 percent improvement in behaviour in the home. They said that the improved interactions with friends and family led to a greater feeling of overall balance. It’s not rocket science, but it is a serious study, with seriously interesting results.

I think this has great implications in all sorts of areas – between work and home, between admin tasks and creative ones, between one client session or meeting and the next. There’s no doubt that clearing your mind before doing something creative brings better results, and resetting between meetings allows you to be truly present to the people who are in front of you.

You can do this third space stuff as a longer process (where you write about your day, meditate and then reset your mind) or a shorter one (think of what your last session achieved, breathe consciously for a minute, then reset and move on).

I think it’s worth an experiment or two, what about you?

Joanna Maxwell

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