THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Anger management: How to keep it out of the workplace

People at work are asking me why I am not working as many hours as I used to. I am, but I am also spending time on anger management. Here are some tips I've tried:

1. Prioritize the problem

I used to think anger management is a thing for men who are in prison for beating their wives. Now I see it's a problem for people who think they will get fired for being unpleasant. Or for people who think their kids will grow up and hate them for being emotionally unpredictable. I am both those people.

2. Focus on your trigger points

The time I most consistently lose my temper is trying to get the kids out of the house in the morning. So I told myself to not lose my temper.

That didn't work. So I have been waking up at 5:30 because I need to give myself two hours to be completely organized and calm so that I can get the kids and myself out the door for school and work at 7:30 without screaming at the kids for not eating fast enough because I changed my clothes for work three times and forgot to make lunches.

(I thought of having the nanny come in the morning to help me. But I hate feeling like I'm married to the nanny, and I hate feeling like I can't do normal parenting things on my own. The mornings with the kids seem theoretically intimate, and making school lunches seems like a rite of passage for moms with school-aged kids. I want all that.)

3. Use deep breathing to regulate stress

I have been doing Ashtanga yoga for ten years. I thought I was amazing at yoga, but now I see that the point of yoga– calming, centering, whatever– is lost on someone who is focusing on the routine of fifty push-ups and five headstands. Now the breathing resonates with me, when I do it at 5:30am as a desperate attempt to keep myself calm long enough to get to work.

4. Grab a regular sleep schedule

Now, I pack the school lunches and pick out my clothes the night before. (The guys I work with think I don't ever change my clothes because all my clothes look the same.)

To get up at 5:30am with a good night's sleep I have to go to bed at 9:30pm which means I have to get the kids to bed by 8pm so I can have an hour to do lunches and clothes and washing my face, which, if you are my age, takes ten minutes because of all the cream stuff I use.

I do not explain this when a co-worker asks why I don't have twenty minutes to fix home page copy at 8:30pm.

5. Understand the mood impact of food

I make waffles. I watch the kids eat squishy, warm, covered-in-syrup waffles. I watch them wash down the drippy syrup with marsh-mallowed hot chocolate. I am convinced that when I eat sugar and bread it makes me crazy-– that I just want more and then cannot think of anything else. It takes every bit of self-discipline in my body not to steal scraps of waffle from the four-year-old's plate. I need to remember to not give him so much.


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more.