October 25, 2012

DO you find it hard to go from work to home without carrying around all that baggage? Do you drag your bad mood from one phone call to the next? Dr. Adam Fraser has the answer.

Fifteen minutes prior to delivering a presentation in front of 5,000 people, he received the devastating news that his best friend had died unexpectedly.

“Someone found me aimlessly walking around the venue and asked if I was going on,” he explains. “I had two choices, stay and give the speech or go. I don’t know how I did it but I stayed.”

This experience, coupled with helping returned soldiers from Iraq work through transitional issues from the battlefield to home, inspired Dr. Fraser to search for the answer to what makes people transition successfully between life’s most challenging daily scenarios.

“It can be hard to go from being a colleague to a mother or from one negative meeting to the next without carrying that baggage with you,” says Dr. Fraser. “Today we’re expected to wear so many different hats that we drag one interaction into the next and we show up with the wrong mindset.”

After interviewing hundreds of people Dr. Fraser noticed a common thread. Those who were able to flourish in life and transition best did so because they mastered the ‘Third Space.’

“The ‘First Space’ is what you’re doing now. The ‘Second Space’ is what you’re about to do and the ‘Third Space’ is the gap in the middle,” explains Dr. Fraser.

To test the theory, Dr. Fraser conducted a study with Deakin University in Victoria. He asked 600 people to practice three steps when moving work to home.

1. Reflect: Use this stage to reflect on what just happened, ask yourself what went well, what you could do better and what you took away from it.

2. Rest: Use this stage to calm your mind and recompose so you don’t move onto the next task with racing thoughts. Depending on time, take a few deep breaths, do a crossword puzzle on the bus on the way home from work, or go for a quick walk around the block.

3. Reset: Align your mindset with what is about to happen. Ask yourself what your intention is. Do you want to enjoy time with your family? Do you need to focus on a budget?

The research showed a remarkable 41 per cent improvement in people’s behaviour at home when they followed the three steps.

“The beauty of the ‘Third Space’ is that you don’t have to put time aside or do anything complicated. It’s just a mental change.”

“The biggest feedback we’ve had is from people who’ve taken this concept and made it fit their world,” explains Dr. Fraser.

One such person was a working mother who struggled to understand her son’s depression. She went from doctor to doctor for advice but never came away with any answers.

“It turns out she was too emotional to remember what the specialists said,” explains Dr. Fraser. “After reading the book she used her Third Space to remind herself that her intention was to listen and the meetings became a lot more productive.”

The Third Space, RRP $29.95, is published by William Heinemann and is available to purchase nationwide,

Read more: