Separate Your Personal and Professional Life

Separating Your Personal and Professional Life

Separate your professional and private life to create balance between work and family. Deliberate boundary setting can increase your efficiency on the job and reduce stress in your personal life. While technological advances are useful, they make us constantly accessible and often cause us to blur the boundaries between work and personal life. Use these tips to keep professional obligations separate from family activities and leisure time.

Establish Boundaries in Your Professional Life

Tune out all distractions to increase your productivity at work.

  • Avoid checking your personal email, text messages and home voice mail while working. These activities steal time away from your productivity and, in many cases, can be taken care of after work hours.
  • Limit the time you spend online. Avoid surfing the Internet, checking social networking sites or posting on discussion forums related to personal matters.
  • Save private conversations with coworkers for lunchtime and other breaks.

Keep your personal life private at work.

  • Personal issues can be so consuming that it is often difficult to keep them separate from your work time. You spend most of your time at work, so how is it possible to pull yourself out of a personal issue that may be stressful and sometimes even traumatic? Whether it is a minor family concern or something more serious, there are steps you can take to keep your personal life private at work so that it does not negatively affect or jeopardize your job.
  • Leave the "private you" at home and only allow the "professional you" to come to work.  
  • Don't get sucked into personal conversations at work with gossiping colleagues if you want to maintain a personal life in the office. If you are aware of those colleagues who often bring up the kind of personal conversations that reveal themselves to a high degree, then stay away from them. You may be inclined to reveal your own personal issues, whether willingly or reluctantly at the time, but later regret being so open.
  • 10 topics to avoid in the workplace:
  1. Salary/money/personal finance details 
  2. Intimate details about your love or sex life
  3. Alcohol and drug interest/use
  4. Political views 
  5. Religious views
  6. Non-politically correct jokes
  7. Your Facebook or other social media accounts
  8. Medical details
  9. Gossip and negative comments about co-workers 
  10. That you are looking for a new job
  • Know who your friends are at work and who you can trust with your personal issues. Lunch times can be a great opportunity to take a moment and share your personal issues. 
  • Get the support you need outside of the office. If you don't have people who you can confide in, then look for professional help outside of work. When your personal issues are so consuming, you really need to talk to someone rather than bottling it inside. Professional counseling can be a great stress relief if you don't have someone else in your life to confide in.

Focus on your work.

  • Practice efficiency. Copy the effective work habits of the productive coworkers and managers in your workplace. This will help you accomplish more work in less time.
  • Delegate as much as possible. Assign tasks to your assistant(s) or team members, particularly those activities that will build and enhance their skills.
  • Overcome procrastination. Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. Use timers, electronic alerts and planners to keep you on task.
  • Say no to unreasonable work requests. Speak to your supervisor about reassigning tasks that do not fall under your job requirements.

Create and adhere to a work schedule.

  • Limit your work schedule. Work enough to meet your obligations without cutting into the hours necessary to relax and spend time with family and friends. Set a goal to leave the office at a specific time each day.
  • Schedule 1 or 2 mandatory days off each week. This is especially important if you are self-employed or a telecommuter.

Enrich Your Personal Life

Develop relationships outside of the work environment.

  • Spend your personal time with friends who aren't coworkers.
  • If you are good friends with your coworkers, establish a rule to discuss work only during office hours.

Plan enjoyable activities.

  • Explore and plan exciting events and activities with your friends and family.
  • Spend time alone. Exercise, meditate and practice hobbies that increase your sense of relaxation, well-being and enjoyment outside of work.

Focus only on your personal life outside of work hours.

  • Set a time limit on business communications at home. If you must check work email and messages while at home, designate a specific time for this.
  • Ask coworkers not to call you with business-related matters on your day off.
  • Leave thoughts about work at work. When at home, focus on family matters, hobbies and personal interests.
  • Limit discussions of work matters at home and when speaking to friends.