How to separate personal/professional? | #TellMeTony Ep. 48
How to Separate Your Professional and Private Life
Properly separating professional and private life is important. It ensures that you get enough rest, and can attend to both personal and work needs. It is also necessary for good mental and physical health.Maintaining a work/life balance has become increasingly difficult because of modern technological advances and changes in work patterns. However, establishing boundaries and setting aside time for your most important needs is possible.
Working the same hours every day is a great way to maintain distinct boundaries between your personal and professional life. Even if you work remotely, you can keep your workspace and living space separate by working at a coffee shop during the same hours every day. Office workers should avoid bringing work home, and if possible, should only check work email or take work-related calls at the office. Additionally, if you regularly have too many tasks on your plate, consider saying “no” to some lower-priority tasks that are distracting you from your main responsibilities.For ways to set boundaries with your supervisor, read on!
List the multiple roles you may have.A single person may fill a number of different roles all at once, or at different times in life: employee, employer, student, sibling, significant other, child, parent, caregiver, etc. These roles sometimes overlap, but each one has its own expectations and needs. Make a list of all of the roles that apply to you, and decide which ones are most important to you.
Go to and leave work at the same times each day.If you are never certain of when your work day will begin or end, it can be difficult to separate it from your personal life. This is especially true for telecommuters or others who work at home. If your job does not have set hours, try setting some for yourself and sticking to them.
- If at all possible, give yourself one or two days off per week (on weekends or otherwise). This will give you an opportunity to rest and to engage in non-work-related activities.
- Ask your employer if your work schedule can be flexible.For example, you may be able to follow a schedule that works better for your family or personal life, such as going to work earlier and leaving later. Similarly, you may be able to work on a compressed schedule that entails the same number of hours per week but with one day off.
Say no to unreasonable work requests.Speak to your supervisor about reassigning tasks that do not fall under your job requirements, or within reasonable expectations of the amount of work you can do.
- Let your supervisor know your boundaries. If he or she asks you to do a task that is outside of your duties, try saying something like: “I appreciate that you trust me with the responsibility of X task, but I don’t think that my position is the right one to take care of that.”
- Offer to discuss any new work assignments, and thank your supervisor when the boundaries of your job duties are considered.
- Even if a task seems like it’s relevant to your job duties, or even if you would like to help your employer or coworker, respectfully say no if you already have a lot to do and need some personal time.
- Remember that not every opportunity is a great opportunity, or one that makes sense for your private or professional life.
Prioritize your work tasks.Some tasks are more important than others. Focus on deadline-driven projects and preparations for scheduled projects, and avoid interruptions, checking unimportant email, and other low-priority tasks.
- If you find yourself not even having enough time to finish the most important tasks, talk to your supervisor about whether or not you are being asked to do too much.
- Set aside time specifically for work. When possible, try to work around “focus times.” Give yourself a set period of time (such as an hour or an hour and a half) in which you will work deliberately and without distractions.
- Don’t be a perfectionist—no one gets everything right every time.Focus on doing your work as best you can, accept when you make mistakes, and learn from them.
Delegate as much as possible.If you have others that work with or for you, make sure to assign a reasonable amount of tasks to them, instead of trying to do everything yourself. Give your assistant(s) or team members tasks that are lower on your priority list, but that you can trust them to accomplish. You may also think about assigning tasks or activities that will build and enhance their skills.
Know your distractions, and minimize them when working.Everyone has certain things that can distract them from work: social media, chatting or texting friends, playing games, watching television, etc. When you are working, make sure to minimize potential distractions, and especially those that you know you are especially drawn to.
- 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.
- Recognize the limits of your concentration. Most people can’t concentrate on a task for more than 90 minutes without a break.Interruptions can also reduce your ability to concentrate.
- Be persistent if people try to pull you away from your work. For instance, if people distract you by chatting, tell them you have work that you’ve got to finish, but you’d love to catch up with them later.
Overcome procrastination.If you know or decide that something needs to be done, don’t give up until it is. Focusing on completing work tasks when necessary will give you more time for personal life.
- Try making a 30-day effort to resist procrastination. If you know you have a problem with procrastination, then make it a point to resist it for a month. Doing so can give you a foundation for long-term success and a strong work ethic.
Manage personal and professional social media accounts.Social media have made details of personal lives much more public. In many cases, employers are checking social media profiles of prospective and current employees. Some employers understand social media as a part of the modern work world, but you should still follow some general guidelines.
- Understand what work information needs to remain confidential—your employer may not want you to mention certain work projects, practices, etc. in public or on social media.
- Keep it clean. If your grandmother would not want to see or read it, don’t post it.
- Don’t post offensive or extremist content.
- Interact with colleagues or coworkers when they are present on social media.
Enriching Your Personal Life
Recognize when you do not have a good work/life balance.When you are so busy with work-related tasks that you have no time for yourself, family, friends, or community, you should reassess your work/life balance. If you aren’t sure how well you are balancing your personal and professional life, ask yourself questions like:
- Do I feel like I have any time for myself?
- Is every minute of everyday scheduled for something? How much of that schedule is filled by work-related tasks?
- Have I missed family or community events because I was trying to catch up on work?
- How often do I bring work home with me?
Focus only on your personal life outside of work hours.One way to separate your personal and professional life is to limit how often you think about work when at home. Just as being distracted by personal matters can reduce your work productivity, thinking too much about work while at home takes away from your personal life.
- Set a time limit on business communications at home. If you must check work email and messages while at home, designate a specific, limited amount of 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.
Define yourself as something other than work.Our work lives are often a very important part of our identity, and in professions in which one does not “clock in” and “clock out” or works from home, the boundary between work and personal life can be blurred. It is important, however, that you define a non-work identity.
Develop relationships outside of the work environment.If you have been working too much or avoiding social interaction outside of work, then make yourself set aside time to hang out with non-work friends or go and do some activities you enjoy. Look for opportunities to meet people outside of work, as these can contribute to a satisfying personal life.
- If you are good friends with your coworkers, consider establishing a rule to discuss work only during office hours.
Ask for help at home.Many people have lots of tasks to take care of at home in addition to those at work. These may include chores, cleaning, home improvement, taking care of children or other family members, etc. Make sure to ask others in your household for help with some of these tasks so that the workload is balanced.
Spend time alone.Taking a break now and then from everyone else—including coworkers, family, and friends—is a good way to deal with stress, to relax your mind, and to improve your mood. Try exercising and meditating, and look for games and hobbies that you can do on your own.
QuestionI can't seem to separate my work from my personal time. I keep thinking about what others would think at home/work if I don't get things done. How can I avoid these thoughts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk yourself why you care so much what others think of you. Do you want to impress people? Do you want to make a good impression? Do you want to fulfill their expectations? Do you even know their expectations? If thinking of other people's expectations keeps you motivated, that's one thing, but if it's continually stressing you out, you need to let that go. The most important thing is how you feel about yourself. If you feel like you're doing the best you can, let that be enough. Remember that a person who is continually stressed out will not be doing their best work. You need to take time to relax.Thanks!
QuestionI frequently think about my work environment at home. How to guard against this?Top AnswererBreathing in and out relaxes you. But you can also promise yourself that you will start worrying about it again as soon as you arrive at work tomorrow morning. Also, the realization that you can't do anything about it from home should help to reduce the private time spent thinking of work. Your private life is at least as important as your work time, so don't let anyone take that away from you. Finally, consider that worrying about work causes stress, which influences your sleep, making you tired and less fit to take care of your work. Not worrying about it makes you better able to handle your work.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are situations that cause conflicts of interest?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSome things that cause conflicts of interest are hiring family members or working on a cause that would benefit you financially.Thanks!
QuestionA supervisor called a neighbor of her employee when the employee called out sick to see if her car was there. Her neighbor is an employee of the same company. Is this appropriate behavior?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Regardless of whether or not the neighbor works at the company and regardless of whether their car is home, they called in sick. An employer does not have the right to use this against an employee, as it was information obtained from a source other than the employee themselves on a personal matter.Thanks!
Video: Work-Life Balance
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