Career

How to Separate Work and Personal Life: 4 Steps

Where do you draw the line between being sociable at work and keeping your private life private? And how can you do this without seeming like an insensitive a**hole? If you’ve struggled with this issue at work, here are a 4 ways to maintain a healthy balance.

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Dolly Parton

For us twentysomethings, the antics of our lives such as surfing the web mindlessly and tweeting all sorts of nonsense conquer our lives in this time and age. We are constantly figuring out what to share on our social media platforms, searching for that perfect 1-hour concentration music video on YouTube or TikTok-ing. Our limits know no bounds when it comes to what we share, and it can cause parts of our lives to cross without us even realising it.

As time progresses, we eventually forget that our managers are on the list of our Facebook friends and share unnecessary materials. I am not saying that your behaviour on the Internet can define or break you (though it can happen and has happened to a small handful of people). I know it is very tempting to share all that you want and think of. However, certain things in life should always remain private.

Depending on the nature of your job, it is hard not to connect with your colleagues at work. In my previous job, I was with my colleagues more than I see anyone else in my life (excluding my family members, obviously). When you mingle with people that much, it does not take much to remain friends when everyone steps out of the office. Eventually, you find yourself going out for dinner after work or begin following each other on Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

When the boundary begins to collapse, it can be challenging then to keep your professional life separate from your private life. Here are a couple of means to re-establish that boundary.  

1. Temporarily Disconnect Yourself From Social Media

Sharing photos of your latest gadgets at home or posting tweets about your day are windows of opportunity for your colleagues to see what you are doing when you are taking the day off. It may seem insignificant. However, if you want to distance yourself from work, then put a pause on social media. You can also come up with separate accounts that are strictly meant for you and your personal life. By taking this approach, you do not have to explain anything to your colleagues the next time they see you.

2. Take Some Downtime For Yourself, Your Friends and Your Family

For a while, I had difficulty dealing with the social pressure to attend every single dinner session with my colleagues. Heck, when they found out that I dislike alcohol, they tried to bring me to the bar to turn me into an alcoholic. Eventually, I taught myself not to succumb to peer pressure.

Although I have missed out on several amazing moments in the past, I still do not regret them to this day. I learned that there is nothing wrong with using that time to connect with your loved ones or going on a date with your girlfriend. It allows you to disconnect yourself from work and end the day with a clear head. I have never met someone who enjoys being kept awake by the scrolling to-do list in his/her mind for the next day. Our beauty sleep is equally important because if we do not get quality sleep, we are not bringing our productive selves to work. I can assure you, as your age increases, the days will get longer.

3. Do Not Reveal All The Details

When someone asks you how your day was, there is no harm in answering their question. However, be mindful that you have the right to be sparse on the details.

There is nothing wrong with chatting about the hiking trip you had the day before, but going into detail about your family issues is definitely stepping over the boundary. On the one hand, there are certain things that your colleagues are comfortable knowing. On the other hand, there are things that occur after work that should not be made known to them.

That said, they will be grateful to you for not talking their ear off, and it helps you to grip onto your home life slightly firmer.

4. Keep Your Phone Away When You Are At Home

When you step into your house and put your car keys away, be sure to take your smartphone out of your pocket and put it down. It grants you a chance to reconnect with the present and rejuvenate your mind after a long day at work. It enables you to rest your eyes and back too.

Your family members will also appreciate it when your undivided attention is on them, instead of fixating on your phone writing your nth email for the day. I promise you, you will feel a great sense of comfort upon recalibrating yourself after a day’s worth of stress.

Final 2¢: It Is Down To Personal Choice

Separating your professional life and private life is something that everyone should master. I understand that achieving a clear separation between work and personal life is nearly impossible in some countries due to historical and cultural reasons. However, I believe that everyone is given a choice to integrate their work and personal life as one or keep them distinct from each other. You do not search for a balance between work and personal life – you create it and whether you want to make it happen, well, it is up to you.

Your colleagues do not deserve to know everything that goes on in your life. Fundamentally, you have the right not to share every single bit of your life with others. So, relax and cherish your personal life and work life separately when time permits. It is an investment that pays long-term dividends to your mind, body and soul.  

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