Can you separate personal and professional?

Often when we talk about our professional lives we see them as completely separate from our lives happening outside of work. In fact, we are often encouraged to look at it this way. Many employers want us to keep our personal lives to ourselves. Understandable.

Why should our business colleagues have to hear about our relationship problems or our leaky roof or the neighbours dog that wakes us up early every day?! Surely this is a distraction from the work we need to get done and from our productivity.

So, what should we do about managing our personal lives when we get to work? Shut down a part of ourselves and focus on the job at hand? Maybe so. But the question is, ‘is this really possible and should we do it?’ I’ve worked with clients (and been studying people) for long enough to know that very few people, if any, are actually able to completely block out all the issues that are happening personally and just think about work. Thoughts creep in about what you should be doing when you get home, or feelings boil up and often boil over in unhelpful ways in a work situation and of course the tiredness or low energy impacts are simply impossible to turn off and save for when you are outside of work.

We simply have to admit that things outside of work will impact our lives at work. We are, after all, the same person. We are the same body and mind at home and at work. We have the same energy tank at home to draw from when we get to work. We are one.

The sooner we are able to acknowledge and admit this, the easier it becomes to manage ourselves. This doesn’t mean we should take up loads of work time to solve our personal issues, but it might mean if we are having a tough time at home, that we need to take more breaks or be more gentle on ourselves when we are at work. It also means, in order to be as high-performing or productive as we want to be, we need to take care of all aspects of ourselves – focus on being healthier, happier and more engaged at home and watch your work life follow suit. Remember, you are one person. One tank of energy. Take care of it. Use it wisely and replenish!