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How to Not Let Your Job Take Over Your Life

by Chris Miksen

In a utopia, your work life and personal life might be completely separate, but reality sometimes lets your job encroach on your life away from the workplace. When that happens, you might find that your happiness vanishes, stress levels become elevated, your personal relationships suffer, and your performance at work drops. A few adjustments at work and at home can prevent your job from becoming your life.

Set Goals

Setting yourself up with workplace goals enables you to achieve success faster and prevents you from trying to take on the world and failing. Goals enable you to appreciate your accomplishments and give you a road map for the accomplishments that lie ahead. Without goals, it’s difficult to see where you need to go, so you’re liable to go in every direction and suffocate yourself in work, attempting to reach that next invisible level. Plot out realistic short-term and long-term career goals. Long-term goals require short-term goals, so start with creating your long-term goals first. Making it a goal to earn more money, for instance, might call for improved sales numbers, which forks off into even smaller goals. Ensuring your goals are realistic and within reach is vital.

Time Management

You’ve probably come across advice that suggests leaving your work at work. One way to do that is by better managing your time. "Harvard Business Review" suggests identifying essential goals, tasks and projects and then listing things that ultimately don’t result in forward progress. That may mean looking at the distractions around you, such as your phone, email and Internet, and setting specific times when you can turn your attention toward those things, rather than immerse yourself in them throughout the day. Or maybe it means turning your attention away from a project that has you brain-dead and instead refueling yourself by focusing on something fresh.

Talk to Your Manager

Long or irregular hours, a schedule that conflicts with your personal life, projects that have you working from sun up to sun down and other time-consuming or problematic workplace scenarios can quickly turn your job into your entire life. Many employers understand that every employee has different needs and the current plan of action may not mesh well with everyone in the workplace. On his Quintessential Careers website, career expert Randal Hansen suggests first researching how your company has previously dealt with requests for a change of pace and their policies for such requests. After you have that information, Hansen advises explaining to your manager how the change would benefit you as an employee and how you could ultimately contribute more to the company. Avoid simply stating that you will be more productive; it's better to explain why.

Find a Hobby

Sitting around your house all day dillydallying with mundane things won’t help get your mind off of work. Find a hobby to help distract you and keep your thoughts away from the workplace. Golfing, puzzle-building, do-it-yourself home projects, stamp collecting, card collecting, writing, painting, gardening and video games are just a few hobbies that can help keep your work life from trespassing into your personal life.

New Position, Career or Employer

In some cases, you won’t be able to switch your schedule, remove yourself from overly demanding projects or otherwise bring more balance into your work-life. Some fields are naturally demanding and some employers don’t adjust to an employee’s needs. If you find yourself in that type of situation, consider making a career move, looking for a new employer in your current career field. or researching other positions within your current company. Before you make the jump, find out as much about a new employer, position or career as you can -- from job security to the number of hours the position typically demands -- so you don’t find yourself in a similar or even worse situation.

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