When you first start working at a new place it’s very easy to separate your personal and work life. You sit at your desk (or whatever your station is), quietly getting things done and then leave at the end of the day without divulging in any secrets. But once you start to get to know the people that you work with and develop friendships and heck maybe even some relationships, that’s when the lines between work and personal life start to get a little bit blurry. Do you think that you’re sharing too much of your two lives? Here are some ways to prevent doing so.
1. Gossiping at Work
First of all, you’re not in middle or high school anymore (unless you still are – but regardless of the fact this shouldn’t be done) so stop the water cooler talk and get back to your task. It gets too easy to start gossiping about your own life to your co-workers once you all become friendly with each other. But knowing that you’re going to Hawaii on a week long vacation is very different as opposed to knowing that your husband refuses to have sex with you after you’ve eaten a heavy Mexican dinner. We get the point that you’ve developed a friendship, but work time means professional time.
If you really need to share these sordid stories with your co-workers, save it for your lunch break or an after work get together. You’re getting paid to do work while you’re at work. Not to gossip on company time.
The next time you feel compelled to gossip, ask yourself how your boss/manager would react if they walked past you and heard what you were talking about.
2. Bringing Home Your Work
If you work 9-5 business hours, and you find yourself bringing home the work that isn’t necessary, stop. Not to say that you can’t bring home cases to read over, prepping for meetings or even taking business calls from a different time zone. Just remember that your billable hours are the ones that you spend at work. Try to leave all of that extra work at work so that you don’t drudge yourself down at home.
Your home should be your sanctuary and where you go to escape the reality of everyday life. The next time you take out your laptop or start answering e-mails from your phone, take a moment and think. Does that task have to be done immediately, is it time sensitive? If not, leave it till the next morning at work to accomplish. Not only will you thank yourself, but your family and friends will too.
3. Making Personal Calls at Work
Emergency phone calls at work are always okay, every employer understands that sometimes you’re going to have to be called away to drive someone to the doctor or to pick somebody up from somewhere. That’s a fact of life (which is why we all have emergency contacts when we sign up for anything). But when your personal calls extend to booking appointments with your psychic when you should be filling out data collection forms, that’s when you’ve overstepped the line.
If you’ve got appointments to book or calls to make, set aside some time each morning before you go off to work to make those calls. Business hours tend to open up relatively early so you should be able to catch them while preparing your lunch or during your commute. If you find that the places you’re trying to contact aren’t available during these times, make a list of calls to make on your lunch break. The way that you don’t get paid when you leave early to see a doctor, is the same as you not getting paid for booking that appointment. If it isn’t something covered in your work description, don’t do it.
4. Dressing Appropriately for Work and Home
It’s important to dress appropriately for your work environment. This means don’t roll into a corporate setting in a pair of sweats and runners. Just the same as don’t go home and lounge around in your pressed shirt and heels. Make sure you set a distinction between what is appropriate office and lounge wear.
Wearing specific types of clothing will put you in a certain mood. So if you’re dressed grungy for work, you’re going to feel that way all day. If you’re dressed to the nine’s at home, you’re not going to be able to relax in your sanctuary.
5. Know Your Workplace Relationships
When working with a significant other or a friend, it can be difficult to differentiate how your interactions at work should be. It can be especially difficult when one of you is a superior. Playing the game of favorites is very easily noticed by other colleagues and sometimes emotions can be hurt when tough decisions are made.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s all business and that everyone is looking out for themselves. If you feel tempted to make a decision based on your relationship with the person, stop before you do anything. Sometimes it may also help to get the opinions of others as well. Make the decisions based on performance, qualifications and future growth, not on emotional choices.
6. Kitchen and Copy/Printer Room Etiquette
It’s really easy to leave dirty dishes in the sink, have food spoiled in the fridge and use up all of the blank paper when you’re at home. If not you, someone else is most likely willing to help you clean up your mess. Not so much at work. You’re expected to put your dirty dishes away and to clean up the microwave if your food explodes. Or if you use up the toner, you’re going to be the one that’s responsible for contacting someone to replace it. The same goes for using up all of the blank paper.
At work you’re an adult, so if you expect to be treated like one, you’ll be expected to act like one. Your mom won’t be there to pick up after you or to do things that you should be responsible enough to do. So make sure that you pick up the slack if you expect to be respected by others.
7. Eating Smelly Food
It goes without saying that our nose knows. And sometimes what you’re eating may seem appetizing to you, but not to someone else. Eating smelly foods in the office is usually an unsaid rule that most people abide by. You don’t want to be the one filling up the office with the smell of stinky tofu.
It’s also important to note that sometimes allergies can flare up just due to the scent of something. So although we may no longer be in kindergarten and are allowed to bring a PB&J sandwich into work, just remember that you’re making the whole office eat it with you too if the scent is strong.
[quote_center]What’re your tips on keeping your work and personal life separate?[/quote_center]
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