How to balance your personal and Professional life

How to Balance Your

Professional and

Personal Life

Maintaining your career/academic and

personal life can get pretty hectic sometimes.

Most adults can probably admit to having their

school or work life intrude on their

relationships or families and vice versa. Being

able to strike a balance between your

professional and personal lives can help you

become more productive and less likely to

burnout. This balancing act takes careful

planning and preparation, but it is possible.

Method One of Five:

Managing Your Time

Try to separate work and play. In the

age of online learning and

telecommuting, you can easily spend your

whole day at home and get everything

done. Attending school or working from

afar may even add more flexibility to your

home life. However, a downside is that

work or school can creep over into home

and/or family activities. It can be hard to

back away when work is always within

reach. Plus, without a clear separation

between your home and office, it may be

hard to transition from your work life to

your personal life. [1] To counteract this

issue, you need a distinctive work zone.

If you telecommute or go to school

online, you might find it helpful to get

work done at a local library, coffee

shop, or cohab community for

students or telecommuters. When

your work is done, you can physically

leave the environment, which might

help you to transition to your

personal life.

If you have to work inside of your

home, then do your best to keep a

separate space for working. This

might be a home office, or just a

specific spot at your kitchen table.

Don’t stress if you occasionally work

someplace else.

If you work in a traditional office,

make sure that you find a relaxing

way to transition from work to

personal life when you finish up for

the day. For example, you might use

your commute home to listen to

music or a book on tape, or stop by

the gym for a quick workout, or call

up a friend and chat for a bit.

Set priorities. To successfully walk

the tightrope between professional

and personal you need to understand

where your priorities lie. Therefore, in a

pinch or when faced with an urgent

circumstance, you aren’t conflicted about

what’s most important to you.

Create a list of the most significant

aspects of your life. Of course, you

might include items like family,

romantic relationships, work, and

spirituality. You might also include

volunteering, staying active,

maintaining a social circle or other


Review your list and rank these items

starting with #1 as the most

important, #2 as the second most

important and so on. Your rankings

will show where your priorities lie.

That way you can be sure to make an

effort to incorporate these top

priorities into your daily and weekly

schedules. [2]

Create a schedule and try to stick to

it. If your week goes by in a blur and

you are unable to recount which tasks you

do on which days, it can be helpful to

spend a week logging everything you do. [3]

[4] After this week has passed, you will

have a better idea of how to factor in

different work/school assignments and

personal activities or errands into your


It can be most helpful to develop a

weekly schedule involving all the

constants like work, classes, church,

and social activities with other one-

time events. Then, each night before

map out a daily to-do list of the

individual tasks you need to get done

based on your priorities. [5]

For your daily schedule, highlight the

three most important tasks you need

to get done each day (aside from

actually going to work or going to

school). [6] These might be

professional items like working on a

presentation or personal items like

going to the dentist or your

daughter’s ballet recital.

You may even create two separate

lists if this one is to constricting –

one with three major tasks for work/

school and one with three major

tasks for home. As long as you have

accomplished these 3 to 6 tasks

each day, you will have been


Manage procrastination. [7]

Procrastination is a major obstacle

that could be standing in your way of

striking a good balance. You may see your

professional and personal lives seeping

into one another because you often wait

until the very last minute to get things

done. This causes you to end up working

late, or being distracted at work by

personal tasks.

One method to overcome

procrastination is to write out your

reasons for enrolling in school or

being in a particular career path and

so on. For example, if you want to

help people, you can complete your

assignments with the intrinsic

purpose that they are helping you

reach that goal. Keep this list in your

work space for when you are feeling


Another way to beat procrastination

for getting things done is to break

larger projects down. Doing so makes

the overall project seem less

daunting and increases motivation as

you complete the smaller parts.

Eliminate distractions. You’d be

surprised how much distractions are

impeding on your time and productivity.

Research estimates claim most people

spend about 20 minutes of every hour

handling unplanned distractions. As a

result, about two whole hours of each day

is spent trying to refocus after being

distracted. [8] If you can minimize the

distractions in your professional life, you

can prevent it from constantly interfering

with your personal life. Try these tips to

eliminate distractions: [9]

Focus on important rather than

urgent tasks – urgent tasks are

reactive-based, important tasks are


Turn off the notifications on your

phone or computer

Create a clean and clutter-free work


Put your phone away

Close any programs you’re not

actively using

Get water, snacks or visit the

bathroom during routine breaks to

minimize physical interruptions

Be inventive. Regardless of how hard

you try, there will be some times

when one or the other becomes more

demanding in your life. Learn to be

creative and think up possible ways you

can meet the urgent priority while still

attending to the other.

For example, maybe you are working

overtime every week and never get

to go out with your significant other.

You can make the special effort of

lighting candles during dinner or

choosing a film to watch on the

couch one evening. This won’t take

up too much of your time and it may

prevent your partner from feeling


You may be able to pass off large

projects or split the time with another

coworker to ease your workload and

make more time for relationships and

family. If you can’t afford to work

less, plan to spend your lunch hour in

the park with your family or bring

your family to the work picnic.


Method Two of Five:

Creating Boundaries

Assess your situation. As hard as you

try to strike a balance, there may be

some situations where crossover is

necessary, especially if you have kids.

Consider your personal and professional

lives to identify situations where some

crossover may be necessary. Think about

your family members and your personal

responsibilities. How often do these people

and responsibilities require your attention

while you are working?

For example, if you have young

children, then arranging your work

schedule around your kids’ schedules

may be necessary. Or, if you are the

primary caretaker of your children

and you work from home, then you

may need to put work aside and take

a break whenever one of your kids

needs something.

It is also possible that work may

have to take precedent over your

personal life sometimes. For

example, if you work as an on-call

healthcare provider, then you may

sometimes need to cancel something

in your personal life to do your job.

Be protective of your health. The

needs of others at work, school, or

home can quickly overwhelm our own

physical needs. Unfortunately, neglecting

your health can have costly consequences,

such as missing work or classes and being

unable to participate in social or family

events. Being anxious about getting

everything done creates stress, and if it is

not tended to stress can have debilitating

effects on your physical and mental

health. [10]

To counteract stress and nurture

your body be sure to get involved in

some type of physical activity several

times per week. It can be joining a

company sports team, jogging around

the block with your partner, or visiting

a local gym.

In addition to exercise, you can

combat stress by consuming several

balanced meals each day, getting

adequate sleep, and pursuing your

outside interests. [11]

Shield your passions. When work,

school, or relationships become too

demanding, we might give up our hobbies

or interests to meet those demands. The

problem is, giving up these things take

away our ability to debrief from

professional and personal stress. Make an

effort to protect your leisure time and

continue any social outlets or hobbies you

participate in. [12]

Try treating yourself with a short

break to engage in a hobby after

completing a significant amount of


Another way to shield your passions

is to schedule them in. Work your

pottery class or book club into your

calendar just as you would with

professional projects or family


Learn to say “no”. It may seem rude

or selfish at first, but, with practice,

you may find that selectively turning down

different projects or opportunities is quite

freeing. Say “yes” to those requests that

meet your top priorities and that do not

constrain your already packed schedule.

Here’s how to say “no”: [13]

Show that you understand the

significance of the request by saying

something like “It sounds like a great

opportunity, but…”

Give a brief explanation, such as

“Honestly, this is a bit outside my

area of expertise” or “I have too

many deadlines approaching.”

Recommend an alternative. For

example, you might say “I can’t, but I

think I know someone who would be

a great fit”.

Cut back. If work and home are

constantly competing for your time,

then you need to make the choice to cut

back on one or the other. Otherwise, you

will keep yourself stressed and unhappy.

Take a look at your life to determine

which side needs greater boundaries.

Do you regularly get called away from

home for work? Does your boss drop

assignments on your desk at the last

minute? Are you financially able to

work a bit less? If the answers to

most of these are “yes”, work may

have been intruding on your life, but

it looks like you can afford to talk to

your boss about cutting down your

hours or workload. [14]

If you are a working mother, cutting

down on your work hours may be the

key to feeling more content.

Research shows that women are

generally happier when they cut back

on work for the sake of meeting

family needs. [15]

Does your partner or spouse

frequently interrupt your work day for

non-emergency family or home

issues? Is your work performance

suffering because you stay up all

night partying with friends or your

partner? Do you have to leave work to

handle errands or do excessive

amounts of housework? If you said

“yes” to any of these, your home life

may be stifling your capabilities at

work. You need to decide if you need

to set boundaries with individuals in

your home that often intrude on your