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The Importance of Keeping Your Work and Home Life Separate and How to Do It

>> Jan 9, 2019

When spending eight hours of every day in an environment with the same people one finds it natural to share the good news in their life or how they spent their weekend. But extend the news to more than that, and you will surely regret it afterwards. There are some things that you just don’t share with colleagues for the sole reason that it’s a work environment and communication should be mainly professional.

Yes, you can crack a joke once in a while, but not one about another colleague; yes, you can chit-chat with female co-workers, but not gossip; yes, you can tell them you’re married, but not share how you were right that one time you had an argument. Whether it’s a minor family concern or something more serious, it’s best to keep your personal life private at work so that it doesn’t negatively affect or the worst case scenario - to jeopardize your job.

Not only can one mistakenly bring home life to work, but work life home too. Oftentimes, when we receive a work email, we’re tempted to open it without taking into consideration it will either stress us out or we’ll be urged to reply, which will take extra time - time that we’re supposed to be spending with our family. It’s not fair to them to not be fully there when at home.

Here’s how you can keep your personal life personal: 

Be fully present in your current activity

For women who work from home, mixing work and home life with each other is inescapable. It even seems natural with your office being the living room. However, it’s crucial to be fully present in the activity you’re currently on. A parent puts it like this:

...if you’re home and spending time with your family/kids [make sure] you’re doing that 100%. It’s so so easy to sneak in work here and there when you’re remote and work from home. It can be so hard to separate the two so I find myself being really conscious of this. When I’m playing with my daughter, I’m fully present (physically and emotionally) doing just that – trying not to think about work etc.


Weekends are for family

Create a mindset for yourself and family members that weekends are sacred and are to be spent only within the family. Always reserve them solely for catching up and hanging out with each other! Work-life balance expert Mary LoVerde, among strategies for decompressing on weekends, mentions creating a weekend ritual in order to reconnect with your loved ones after a long week of working. She suggests the idea that “every Saturday morning you spend 20 minutes of undivided, technology-free time cuddling on the couch with your kids or spouse or pet, reading a book or watching something you all enjoy.”

Oh, and, on Monday morning, you don’t have to rant about how great your weekend in the mountains was.

Identify your personal boundaries

Decide on how much of yourself you’re comfortable showing at work. Instead of trying to completely separate your private life from your work life, try to find a comfortable balance ‘by maintaining professionalism in your personal life while also setting realistic boundaries at work’.

Stenger suggests that when you notice that “you’re being drawn into a conversation that makes you uncomfortable, communicate your boundaries by saying something like ‘I’m sorry, that’s personal’, or ‘I don’t feel comfortable discussing this at work.’ Or if someone is constantly interrupting you with small talk, you could politely but firmly inform them that you need to get back to work.” 

Stay away from colleagues who gossip about other colleagues

Finally, it is important to not engage in gossip at the office. If a colleague is sharing with you something someone told them confidentially, they’re gonna do the same with you. It’s best to steer clear of that kind of colleagues so that it doesn’t backfire. After all, you’re obliged to respect all colleagues, but you’re not obliged to befriend them.

At the end of the day, personal life is called personal for a reason. The key to success to achieve keeping your personal and professional life separate is actually to not separate them, at least not completely. Rather, try to learn to be effective and creative in finding (and keeping) a balance. 


Dafina Zymeri, SAHMjobs

Dafina Zymeri is a writer for SAHMjobs. SAHMjobs is a job portal designed to bring together stay at home moms and recruiters. The platform also brings helpful articles in the Blog section regarding mothers who want to return to the workforce.

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