Well 2015 is nearly at a close and what a year it has been. I have spoken to quite a few people in the last few weeks and the undertone for this year is we only have 8 weeks left and thank goodness for that. I have been surprised at how many people have had a “crisis” this year, whether it be personal or professional. So I thought I would do some research on this. I think it is fair to say that most of us are looking forward to the start of 2016 and what new challenges it will bring.

What I have taken from this year though is don’t let a personal crisis affect your work.  We have all had them – a “Personal Crisis” and the worst thing is you still have to go to work as someone has to bring home the bacon. It’s at times like this that emails get overlooked, phones not answered or targets are missed – in a nutshell the quality of your work suffers.

Sometimes things occur in our personal lives that are so devastating that we have difficulty concentrating at work. This could be a divorce or a death of a loved one or even a financial crises. If you’re an employee you have to show your boss that you can be relied upon no matter what and then if you are a boss your team still needs to be able to count on you to lead no matter what you are dealing with in your personal life.

We spend anywhere between 8 – 10+ hours a day at work so to think that this will not be affected – you are kidding yourself. You will probably find yourself a little or a lot distracted or perhaps even unable to function fully, but rather than feeling guilty about it – you need to take charge and make yourself productive at work.  Ups and downs are part of everyone’s journey – so there is no way to escape these difficult life situations. However, it is always in our control to decide how we choose to handle situations and react to certain setbacks.

As an employee first and foremost tell your boss in confidence. Rather than giving your boss a whole lot of reasons to speculate – it is better to be upfront and open about your situation. I suggest that you tell the person who you directly report to. You do not need to go into extreme details, just a brief chat. Let him or her know the situation at present and you will be surprised at how understanding and supportive they will probably be. This should elevate any office gossip or negativity towards you.

As a Manager of a team let your team know in a brief and succinct manor. You do not need to go into a lot of details – just enough so they are aware of what is happening.

Take a break – Take time out for yourself. This may just be a quick walk around the block to clear your mind every now and then or it may be a couple of days off. In any case you need to get your head around the crisis and ensure that you are dealing with what needs to be dealt with.

Get organised – I found this worked very well for me. Make a list each day and tackle the items on the list. Some people are very good a compartmentalising their thoughts, and work can even serve as an escape from their problems. On the other hand some find it extremely difficult to focus.  So if you get yourself organised you know when you need to focus on work and when you can take that break to think about your personal crisis. The magic word is try to compartmentalise.

If you handle a team, learn to delegate. I would suggest a brief team meeting to update them of your situation. Make sure you respect your team and let them know you appreciate their help. If possible keep an open-door policy. 

Another idea to help through this time is “be busy”; Treat your work as a way of escaping from the situation. If you are sitting idle chances of you thinking and rethinking about the problem is huge and that is the reason why you must find ways of making yourself busy. While you get busy in the work, you will hardly have time to think about it and this will save you from the mental stress that you are going through.

Leave your drama at home and don’t talk about your problems at work. (unless you want to) Have you ever had a coworker confide in you about a breakup or other personal issues? Did you find the situation awkward or did the coworker become a nuisance or burden — sapping your productivity? It’s okay to confide in others in whom you trust, but beware of sharing too much at the office.  

Avoid getting into negative mode, keep things positive; this is such an easy trap to fall into and one that you must avoid at any cost. I suggest that you try to distract your mind off the personal crisis and focus on work when at work. I would even suggest physical activity as this is meant to release stress. 

And finally do what you love it may seem absurd to devote your already-in-short-supply time to do something just for the pleasure you derive from it – but that is precisely the reason why you should deliberately find time to do an activity you truly enjoy. 

In my humble opinion you should try to keep your personal crisis out of the workplace as much as possible because it can become a burden and unnecessary distraction for others.

Ultimately your personal crisis over time will shrink in importance – so above are just a few helpful hints – good luck.

Alicia Sumich – Group Manager; Business Development

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