When Your Personal Life Affects Your Work Life

There’s something going on in your personal life that is starting to impact your work.  You are having financial difficulties, you’re taking care of a sick parent, you’re fighting with your significant other, or your child is having problems at school.  Whatever your particular issue is, you’re having trouble containing it, and now it’s starting to affect your performance at work.  What do you do?

Assess.  How is the issue impacting your work life?  Is it causing you to miss work days?  Is it keeping you up at night?  Is it making it difficult for you to focus?  By understanding how the problem is affecting your work, you will have a better idea of how to address it.

Compartmentalize.  (if possible)  Try to see the different parts of your life as air-tight compartments.  When you are at work, don’t let anything else enter your mind.  When you are at home, don’t think about work.  By being totally focused on one thing at a time, you will decrease the stress associated with role conflict.

Communicate.  What you communicate to your employer will depend on your relationship with your manager, and on the organizational culture.  In some situations, you may be inclined to tell your manager the whole story, while in others, you will keep it all to yourself.  You know your work situation best, so do whatever makes you feel comfortable.  Ideally it is best to communicate with your manager if you can, because if they are aware of your situation, they will be more willing to make allowances for you.

Take some time off.  Would it be possible for you to take a few days off to deal with your situation?  Would it help to modify your schedule?  Even if you are coming in to work everyday, you may be guilty of presenteeism, which means that you are in the office, but your mind is not focused on your work.  It is better for you to take the time off to deal with your problem, so that you are refreshed and focused when you return.

Go the extra mile.  It is always a good idea to put a little extra effort into your work, but it is particularly important when you have been distracted with personal matters.  Find a way to show your manager that you’re committed to the organization, and that even though you are a little distracted right now, you are still a valuable member of the team.

Your manager understands that you’re human and that everyone has bad days.  However, you do owe it to your employer to put in your best possible effort.   When your personal life impacts your work life, it is doubly hard because you’re upset about your personal problem, and you also worry about your work performance.  Hang in there, as the proverb goes, “This too shall pass.”

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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