I am a working woman who is nearing a decade of work experience. I work in quite a stressful job and often struggle with the work pressure and work life balance aspect of it.

I am lucky to work in a country where employee rights are some of the strongest in the world. So, despite having a stressful job, I can manage a better work life balance than many of my peers.

Today, however I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about how private and professional life tend to affect each other.

Over the years, I have observed something in my life and life of my friends and coworkers. Only a selected few of us are able to emotionally separate their private life completely from their professional life. Most of us see a direct relationship between work and life. I could not completely compartmentalize them emotionally. Most of the time, any turmoil in my private life has a negative effect on my work quality. When things are going good in my personal life, I find I am able to concentrate better at work, I am more focussed and motivated and I can tackle tough topics with much more ease.

I was in a meeting when my sister had texted me two years back to tell me my maternal grandmother has passed away. She couldn’t reach me on my mobile phone. I remember having this suffocated feeling after receiving this news and I begged the day off from work. I could not focus on work for at least a week after that. My heartbreak for not being there, for missing her, for not being able to fly to attend the last rites immediately actively influenced how my performance was the following few months.

When things do not go well in life, days when you have a fight with your partner, your parents are usually not the most productive days. There is a possibility of lack of patience for doing some trying work.

How my personal life affects my work

If I have a particularly stressful assignment which needs full focus, it can go both ways on such days. Either I will have particular difficulty in concentrating and will not be productive at all. The other way is I will focus full on in my work in order to get over the personal turmoil, steamroll through any problem, overwork myself and overstay at work and drive myself to exhaustion. Neither of which is a positive effect that personal life issues have at work.

I had particular difficulty focussing in work after I went through a bad break-up. I had slid into a depression, and had absolutely no energy to even get up and go to work. I had often fallen sick and it was a trying time for me at that moment.

On the other hand, when I recovered mentally from the bad period of my life, got into a place where I felt comfortable and confident in my life, I had a remarkable improvement in my work performance. I became more confident, was more assured in critical situations, was more than often taking charges an overall I was very satisfied with how I was conducting myself in my professional life.

This blog post was becoming too long and I almost wrote an article, hence I divided it into two parts. I have discussed how work life influences our personal life in the next post. You can read it here : The work life relationship 2