How to stay focused at work when having a personal crisis

It’s relatively easy to focus at work under normal conditions – but, what if you’re struggling to keep your focus while distracted with a personal crisis?

Perhaps you’ve just broken off an engagement or ended a long relationship.

Or, you’ve just found out that your partner is cheating on you.

What’s worse, perhaps you’ve just learned that a close family member has been diagnosed with a serious illness.

Whatever your personal challenge may be, concentration at work likely becomes secondary, or near impossible when you have such problems on your mind.

But, you still have to keep your composure and ease yourself back to work eventually – here are 5 tips on how you can do that:

Tip #1 – Think about whether you should share

Sharing your personal problems at work has its fair share of pros and cons. So, it’s best if you’re selective about what you reveal at your office.

If you feel better when you share, talking with select colleagues will make you more comfortable at work and thus more likely to be productive.

But, if the thought of additional questions and advice makes you feel uncomfortable, you can send a formal letter to HR instead.

If you’re experiencing a serious personal problem or shock, your HR department can make arrangements with your boss/supervisor/manager about:

  • giving you some extra time off
  • reducing your working hours for a time

In either case, you’ll need to track your time to keep all your reduced work hours or time off accounted for.

Tip #2 – Set some basic boundaries with your family

Some people feel more comfortable if they face their problems and tragedies head-on.

Some feel better if they go back to work as soon as possible, to take their minds off of personal worries.

In any case, you’ll need to set boundaries with friends and family who’ll want to check in with you at work more frequently.

So, explain it to your loved ones when you won’t be able to answer the phone at work.

Also, tell them whether you think that phone calls from them would be beneficial for you (and your productivity), or not.

In any case, tell them about your current work assignments, and how much time and focus you’ll need for them. Moreover, explain how they can reach you if there’s an emergency.

Tip #3 – Consider your company’s benefits

Companies usually offer an array of employee benefits some employees aren’t even aware of.

So, when you encounter a specific personal problem, ask whether your company offers childcare, counseling, or even legal services you could use to help you out in difficult times.

If your company offers the benefits you need, you’ll be able to ease some of your emotional burdens and focus on your work with fewer worries.

Tip #4 – Be self-compassionate

Getting back to work at full speed after a major life crisis can be a serious challenge. So, don’t forget to be patient with yourself if you’re having trouble getting up to speed.

To make work more manageable, practice your time management skills and divide your to-do list into groups of 3 tasks. Each group will be a separate milestone you’ll need to reach.

After you reach each milestone, you can call your family to check up on them, or meditate for 15 minutes, to relax and recharge.

As a result, you’ll likely feel more comfortable working – considering that you’ll be pursuing your designated reward for the milestones you reach.

On the other hand, some people actually feel better if they have something like a work assignment to help them take their mind off of personal issues.

So, keeping focus at work may actually help you process and overcome your shock easier.

Tip #5 – Take some time off

Sometimes, the best you can do for yourself and your work is to ease your personal crisis by taking a few days off to rest and reconcile your thoughts. You can use this time off to:

  • spend time with your family
  • talk to your friends
  • reflect on your problems
  • try to get your personal life back on track

You’ll feel better if you do, and you’ll be able to carry out your tasks with more ease, focus, and dedication once you get back to work.

Wrapping up…

Personal crises are often difficult to overcome, especially if you continue working throughout them. But, you can make your obligations more manageable if you:

  • Consider sharing with colleagues
  • Make arrangements with your family over calling you at work
  • Make use of the right company benefits
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Take a couple of days off

This way, you’ll make the most of the current situation in relation to your work – and, maybe even feel better knowing you have an obligation you can focus on instead of your personal problems.

Marija  Kojic

Marija Kojic is a productivity writer who's always researching about various productivity techniques and time management tips in order to find the best ones to write about. She can often be found testing and writing about apps meant to enhance the workflow of freelancers, remote workers, and regular employees. Appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.


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