Take home bag vs Fake home bag

Are you one of those people who lugs a huge bag with you on your daily commute? You know the sort. The person huddled on the train typing into their Blackberry with three big files in one arm, laptop in the other?

Or in the car, laptop safely stowed on the passenger side and a briefcase of client documents for review in the back seat?

That’s been me many, many time but recently I’ve been trying to do it less and less. I find that the load of my take home bag is far more than just physical, it’s emotional as well.

Because the take home bag often turns into a fake home bag.

Instead of actually doing the work I promised myself I would do – usually after leaving the office because it’s too late and I can’t concentrate any more – I leave my take home bag by the door as I decompress.

I cook dinner, I wash up, I make lunch for tomorrow and then I sit down to watch some TV and unwind before I get started…but it’s now 10:30 at night!

There’s no way I can start work on that document/presentation/important email now and give it my best. Better to go to bed early, get a good night’s sleep and go into work a half hour early to kick start it before everyone else gets in.

Emotional Burden

But while I sleep there’s an emotional millstone around my neck – the fake home bag that’s sitting by the door, silently mocking me, taunting me, goading me and reminding me of my failure to accomplish a self-imposed goal.

So while deadlines are hit and deliverables are…er…delivered on time, there’s an additional strain to my emotional well-being that’s incurred just by bringing something home from work.

No, better to leave work at work and give yourself a definitive break between your two lives. Better to bring balance to your life and to fully decompress after a stressful, busy day than to get in the stagnating habit of bringing work home that you, realistically, won’t be able to devote your full attention to.

Do Productive Work at Work

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we all need to stay late and take work home with us – just don’t put yourself in the position where it gets into a habit.

Your brain and your body are very similar. Both do well when they’re tested but, in order to improve your mind and your muscles, rest is just as important as a full work-out.

So next time you’re heading out the door, take a look at your shoulder.

Ask yourself whether it’s carrying a take home bag, or a fake home bag and if you can take the physical and emotional burden.


10 Responses to Take home bag vs Fake home bag

  1. This is very good advice, Ed. Now what about those of us with home offices? Do you know how hard it is to walk past the computer at night and not check in? That’s what I’ve been trying to do this week, with some success. We all need a break from work — even if we love what we do.

  2. Suki Fuller says:

    Funny, you should write this today…as I made a point to leave the aforementioned “Fake Home Bag” in my office this evening. I was having the same sort of thought about my evening productivity or lack thereof…but then again great minds think alike and you are a Liverpool fan.

  3. Wait till you have kids!

  4. Judy Gombita says:

    Great imagery, Ed. Interestingly, at the gym a couple of weekends ago we were talking about “anthropomorphization” (although we agreed on the concept, we all had trouble saying the word at 8:20 a.m. on a Saturday). Anyhow, I think your sad-sack Fake Home Bag qualifies for the A word.

    Not only am I guilty of too many nights of Take Home *and* Fake Home (especially lately), there is another one you have to add to your list. Something like the Cumulative Home bag. That’s when you determine that your bag has become inexplicably heavy. Delving into said bag, you discover paper-based flotsam and jetsam of various bits of take/fake-home work you’ve been accumulating for the last week. Or weeks. Or month.

    I did a purge of my T/F/C bag just last night (mainly because I needed room for a heavy binder); in the process I discovered bits and pieces of some projects that dated as far back as early October…. Oy.

  5. Ed Lee says:

    my wife has a ridiculous cumulative bag. there’s stuff in there from before i met her…

  6. Judy Gombita says:

    Well, hopefully Mya doesn’t still carry around her (cumulative) black book….

  7. buckpost says:

    Great advice, Ed! As someone who’s guility of carrying a pretty heavy bag between work and home every day, I can feel your pain.


  8. Ed Lee says:

    Cheers mark!

    the good news is I don’t even have a blackberry…yet.

    i’m sure that come the new year i’ll be struggling to find new ways to decompress 😉

  9. […] Take Home Bag vs. Fake Home Bag: Ed puts things in perspective a bit about taking work home. Why are you doing it? How often do you really do it? Do you really have to do it? […]

  10. Nicely put, Ed. This (usually) isn’t a problem for me (not saying whether I’m remarkably efficient at work or just profoundly lazy at home), but I’m definitely going to show this to my wife!

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