It’s easy to let personal problems slip into the workplace, and before you know it, your problems are at the center of company gossip and taking up way too much of your time. Sometimes, the intrusions are unavoidable -- you may have a sick child or ailing parent that needs your attention, for example. At other times, the personal toll is more emotional, such as a divorce that upsets your home and keeps you feeling angry. While these issues are important, you’ve got to find ways to separate your work from your personal problems to maintain your professional reputation and reduce workplace disruptions.
Throw yourself into your work so you’ll be so focused you won’t have time to think about your personal crisis. Work can provide healthy distractions from your problems when you develop the ability to block them out while you’re on the job.
Talk to your manager about arranging for a flexible schedule or a leave of absence if the personal problems require your presence to solve or work out. Rather than trying to work all the tasks you must accomplish around your work schedule, take the time off to solve the issue and maintain your professional image.
Manage your overwhelming feelings by seeking outside support. Join a support group, use your employer’s assistance plan or see a professional counselor outside the office instead of using your co-workers as sounding boards for your difficulties. The relief you get from talking unabated to a dedicated listener may free you up to tackle your work and your personal issues more effectively.
Watch for signs that you’re taking your frustration, fear or anger out on co-workers. Stop and close your eyes if you feel yourself getting ready to overact. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are under stress from your personal problems and that you don’t need to act out at work.
Avoid sharing too much personal information with your co-workers at this time. After the crisis has passed, you may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about the amount of personal stuff they now know about you. Consider whether you’ll regret the move later on and if you think you might, then don’t do it.
- Personal problems can drain your energy and take a toll on your motivation levels. Don’t take on any added responsibilities or projects while you’re dealing with personal issues so that you have enough left over to do your job effectively. Pare down your priorities and consider dropping volunteer or social activities that take up your time and energy during this period as well.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."