When the worst comes knocking, leaving your personal life at the door can be challenging once you step into your office. Whether you’re dealing with a bad breakup or you’ve received a life-changing health diagnosis, you can’t drive your issues away with the flick of a switch. However, regardless of the tragedies unfolding behind the scenes, you’ll still be expected to show up at work every day, attend meetings, and stay on top of your workload.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling to keep your personal life from affecting your professional responsibilities, it’s time to seek the support you need to weather this difficult time. Being proactive can save your sanity and make your work-life balancing act feel a little easier. Here are six tips for keeping your personal issues from negatively impacting your professional performance.

Determine what you need


Before you can ask for help and support, it’s vital to establish what you need help with specifically. Maybe you need extra time to complete your company reports or an extra pair of hands to complete the project you’re working on. If your personal problems involve aging, terminally ill, or disabled loved ones, you may feel distracted attempting to fulfill their needs in addition to your own.

Rather than taking on too much by yourself, asking for help can reduce stress and allow you to concentrate on your deadlines and responsibilities. Once you’ve established your needs, you can consider the resources you have on hand and seek out the right people to speak to and ask for help from.

For working professionals who log a second shift as a part-time caregiver, consider hiring a professional caregiver from a reputable agency such as’ll be able to continue working knowing that your loved one is in capable and well-trained hands. If you require some personal support while navigating your loved one’s chronic illness or disability, reach out to friends or find a therapist in your network. 

Meet with your employer

If it’s apparent that your personal issues will have a considerable impact on your work performance, it’s best to meet with your supervisor as soon as possible. Being transparent about your struggles and bubbling inner strife can help your boss adjust and meet some of your needs. Your supervisor may also be able to provide you with additional support and resources you need.

When you’re meeting with your employer, only share relevant information. Your supervisor doesn’t need to know every detail of what you’re going through, but company leadership should be debriefed on how this curveball may impact your work. Only then can they offer you options, whether it’s providing you with a more flexible schedule, tapping a teammate for help, or allowing you to work remotely.

Look into your benefits


Before emptying your pockets to find the help you need, review your benefits to see if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs are company-sponsored programs specifically designed to help employees process complex personal problems and provide child care and legal support.

Licensed counselors can help you with issues from substance abuse to marital struggles. While it can be nice to talk to a neutral party, counselors can also direct you to other resources that may be helpful to you.

Establish emotional boundaries

If your colleagues notice something wrong, it’s natural that they would feel concerned for you. As tempting as it may be to open up and discuss your situation in-depth, exclusively confiding in your coworkers can blur the line between your personal and professional lives.

Not only may your colleagues be ill-equipped to provide intense emotional support, but they also have their own work responsibilities. Rather than seeking fulfillment of your emotional needs from your coworkers, consider finding a therapist or confiding in friends who are not associated with your job.

Create reasonable to-do lists


Under the burden of personal issues, completing even a single task can take a monumental effort and feel overwhelming. When you have multiple due dates and duties to fulfill, your stress levels are sure to become elevated, and it’s easy to forget vital assignments. You might feel an immense amount of pressure. However, much of that pressure might be self-manufactured. 

A simple way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by your job is by creating to-do lists. Your brain is probably working overtime to keep you productive while under a great deal of tension. Instead of giving it more to worry about, start writing down your projects and deadlines.

By writing this information down, you can visualize your workload in a more manageable way and determine how and when to tackle each assignment. Be reasonable with yourself about how much you can accomplish in a given day. When dealing with personal issues, you may not be performing at your peak, so afford yourself some grace and don’t overload your list.

Use your PTO

Many people view their paid time off as a precious resource they should store up and avoid using. However, PTO isn’t just for the rare lavish vacation. Instead, PTO is made for emergencies like the ones you experience in your personal life. If you feel that you simply can’t perform your work duties under your current circumstances, don’t hesitate to take a day or two off to regroup.

Making time for relaxation and restoration can positively impact your productivity and performance, even if you’re taking time off work. With a few days under your belt dedicated to your personal well-being, you can return to work less stressed and better equipped to tackle your projects and assignments.

The bottom line

If you’re struggling with personal issues in your life, you’re not alone. Everyone finds themselves dealing with unprecedented challenges every now and then. Taking the proper steps to advocate for yourself and your needs can prevent your personal life from spilling over into other areas of life and impacting your work. Once the crisis has passed, you can return to your job secure, knowing that your personal circumstances haven’t detrimentally affected your professional life.