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How Can I Prevent Work From Negatively Affecting My Personal Life?

We all live in a reality of work being more and more demanding of our time. It is not uncommon for many of the professionals I see in my practice to work 12 plus hours a day and then being on call the rest of the time. 

During my therapy sessions with couples, many complain about their partner having to take calls and work on vacations. There are some professions that are worse than others in this respect. 

There are no easy solutions for this. Many workplaces simply will not tolerate any push back from employees on this issue. I think the most important issue is to take a wide view of this and decide what is important. 

Sometimes, it is understood that for a period of time, especially starting out,  it is inevitable that you have to just work and put your personal life on the shelf or have an understanding with your partner about the inevitability of such a work/life imbalance for some time. 

However, if a personal relationship and personal life are of value, it is critical to not allow this to go on indefinitely and not buy into a completely work-driven lifestyle. This is unhealthy and destructive to all relationships in one’s life. 

The idea is that either this is a time-limited situation or that a different career path may have to be considered. There are no easy answers to this.

Some of the ideas to reclaim your personal time are:

  • Use personal time as fully and effectively as possible, i.e. make plans to see people, do things that have made you feel good historically
  • If the situation really becomes intolerable put your foot down and talk to the superiors about needing time off or easing the schedule. Be prepared for consequences by weighing the pros and cons.
  • Be prepared to not advance as fast as you may want to in your position, it may be better, in the long run, to go slower at it but maintain other parts of life.
  • Make sure the priorities are there, in that your physical and mental health come before anything else.
  • Choose your career thoughtfully, it’s not for everyone to work 18 hours a day.
  • Make sure to take time off/vacations when possible and plan this ahead.
  • Seek individual therapy in times when you feel work is negatively affecting your stress levels or causing anxiety.