The boundaries between our personal lives and professionally lives continue to get blurred – and it’s easier than ever to let one impact that other. Especially since millennials are the “most stressed out generation” according to an American Psychology Association survey. It’s impossible to flip a switch and leave all the personal happenings behind when you step into the office, but it’s essential you try to prevent your personal issues from impacting your work.
7 Ways To Stop Letting Your Personal Issues Impact Your Work:
1. Talk with your boss or employer.
I’m not telling you to march into your bosses office and start crying about what a hot mess you are and that you got dumped right before the holidays. DON’T DO THAT.
When I say talk with your boss, I mean communicate your needs clearly and effectively if something is going on that will impact your ability to be physically or emotionally present during your usual hours.
Share only relevant information.
For instance: what can they can expect in terms of your productivity (do you need to enlist another team member to help you? will you still be able to meet a deadline, but just need some flex hours? Would working from home a few days help?”).
Explain logical/relevant reasons for sharing this with your boss too.
What I mean by that, is take a business mindset, wouldn’t it be a lot worse if you kept running yourself into the ground, pretending like nothing was going on, and making a bigger mess for the team to clean up? Versus just asking for what you need and bouncing back quicker?
What that would sound like:
“Hey boss, so I have to be honest with you, I’m going through a tough personal issue right now and it’s making it difficult for me to be fully present during my normal hours. I wanted to bring this to you to come up with a solution to ensure I bounce back as quick as possible, rather than hiding it and burning myself out more and for a longer period of time. Where my head is at, I think it would help to work a flex schedule from home the next week, so I can deal with my personal stuff but still meet the deadline. I’m totally open to other suggestions if you had something else in mind?”
It shows you are still keeping their bottom line in mind, but that the cost of not saying anything would be greater.
2. Don’t overshare.
Again, I need to stress this: yes, I recommend talking with your boss, but don’t give them all the nitty gritty details of your personal life. The same goes for co-workers. We’ve all had that one Gossipy-Gina at work, who tries to “help” but sharing your plight about why you can’t do something – which is really just an under handed way to get at your Christmas bonus – or worse your job! While it’s great to connect with co-workers, don’t let them think your competency or productivity are at risk because of personal struggles.
3. Take time off.
Did you know that millennials are the most likely generation to forfeit their paid time off (PTO)? Yeah, don’t be like those millennial work martyrs. Instead, if you have a personal crisis impacting your work, use the PTO! Similar to the points I made in talking with your boss, but your productivity will do better if your fully engaged for four days in the week, than partially engaged in five.
4. Set digital boundaries.
More than half of those surveyed in a Pew Research Center study used social media at work to take a mental break or connect with friends and family. Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten a text, or checked social media at work and something set you off
Seriously, put those hands up, I can’t be the only one with a crazy mother who sends an irrational text to derail the entire day?
Since our personal and professional lives live on our phone, totally accessible 24/7 – its essential to create some digital boundaries. Turn off push notifications, shut the phone down, or lock it away!
Equally as important as digital boundaries, are your mental boundaries. Personally, this is the most difficult for me. What’s worked for me is to actually visualize my compartmentalization. For instance say something is really bothering me and I can’t let it go, I’ll imagine putting it into a box, then filing it away in a cabinet in the depths of my mind. I give myself permission to come back to it later, but not in that moment. It’s a great mindfulness exercise. Unlike traditional meditation, where you “let the thought float out,” you know it’s still in your head and you can come back to it whenever you want.
6. Look into your companies Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
ICYMI, EAP’s are employer-sponsored intervention programs designed to help employees work through and resolve tons of personal issues! Things like substance use/abuse, emotional issues, financial stress, and family and marital struggles, all typically fall under the scope. All you have to do is get the number, and talk with the counselor. Just talking to a neutral person can help sometimes, but they can also give you recommendations of what to do next.
7. Get your emotional needs met.
Work-life balance is about making sure your needs are met across all areas: professionally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially and socially. It’s about living a well rounded life – not just a division between home and work. Make sure that you are leaning on your friends and family to get your emotional needs met. Consider seeing a therapist if things persist more than a couple of weeks. And of course, check your daily self care game! Simple pleasures like a cup of afternoon tea, watching Ellen, or taking a walk outside can do wonders!
Remember, you are not alone in your personal issues. And we all have the ability to get consumed by our problems to the point we can’t concentrate. Focus on taking care of yourself, and not oversharing in the workplace. Once the crisis has passed, make sure to acknowledge and express gratitude to those who were there for you personally and professionally.