Life is hard! It is harder when you are stupid! That may sound like a harsh quote from an old John Wayne movie, and it is (Sands of Iwo Jima – SGT Stryker), but the lesson that life has taught most of us is that your personal life doesn’t mix well with your professional life. The last thing I wanted to hear from my old boss was that he was having marital troubles with his wife or that he had ‘gotten lucky’ on the home front. I certainly wasn’t interested, I just needed him to be a good boss and not get all distracted while he was supposed to be managing the power plant I worked in at the time.
So how do you separate professional and personal life? The easy answer is that it is as simple as not talking about one when you are busy with the other. Unfortunately it isn’t all that simple! While a lot of guys are pretty good about putting work in a box and sealing the lid as we walk out the door and then opening the box with family in it when we walk into our house, there is some overlap. Our job gives us the pay so that we can have the home!
In order to keep the professional life out of the personal life it is best if you do not bring work home. The exception to this is if you have the option to work from home and now you have cut out commuting time and therefore have more time for personal life. Just don’t let the work at home option creep into your non-work hours because once it does you begin a path down a slippery slope that is hard to reverse!
To keep your personal life out of the professional work life, keep your comments about personal life to the bare minimum so as not to appear too standoffish. Certainly occasional comments about a new restaurant or a new movie are acceptable, but keep arguments and discussions about sex strictly between you and your spouse!
Another great advantage of keeping your personal life out of your professional life is that you don’t submit material for the office gossip! Keeping that in mind should help anyone keep their personal and professional lives separate! Over time you may develop a close friendship with one of your co-workers and if that happens make sure that you can trust them to not repeat material you may tell them in some form of confidence and accord them the same respect.
Keeping personal and professional lives separate can be difficult because in many cases the people we work with share the same interests, you work in the same field and you spend a significant amount of time together. Knowing what to share and with who can make all the difference in enjoying your job or enduring your job.