Don’t Work at Play & DON’T Play at Work

Give your Career and Your Family the Focus They Deserve

If you follow my writing, you might know I am a fan of motivational speeches on YouTube. One of my favorite motivational speakers is Jim Rohn. Jim does not have the booming voice that pumps you up like an Eric Thomas or Les Brown. His speeches which are often delivered with a fair bit of humor are filled with practical advice.

Here is a bit of advice from Jim that we need to hear now more than ever; “when you work, work, when you play, play, don’t mix the two”. You might be thinking “duh, everybody knows that!”. If we are honest with ourselves and think about it for a minute, we all occasionally (some people more than occasionally) check Facebook or watch a hilarious and cute cat video on YouTube while we are at work. On the other side of that coin, I am sure we all have times where we bring our work home with us.

When you work, work, when you play, play, don’t mix the two.

When You’re At the Beach, Be at the Beach.

Jim drives home the importance of “focus” in our day to day lives with a few examples. The first example of a period when he lacked focus was that he used to “bring his briefcase to the beach”. Anyone who has a company smartphone or a company laptop will know what a drag that can cause on your personal life if you let it.

Have you ever been “at the beach”, which is used as a metaphor to mean spending time with friends and family, and found yourself checking work emails or voicemails? That is the curse of the smartphone age we live in, we as individuals have never been more accessible. That accessibility has set up unrealistic expectations where you are expected to respond to work-related inquiries on nights and weekends. I would urge you, if at all possible, do not check work emails, texts or voicemails once you leave the office.

We spend 8 hours or more per day at the office, another 8 sleeping, another 1–2 hours driving to and from work we get very little time to spend with our loved ones. Try and be present, in the presence of your friends and family.

I must admit, this is extremely hypocritical advice for me to be giving. I am as guilty as anyone for taking my work home with me. Whether that be actually working at home or simply thinking about work while I should be focusing on my limited time with friends and family. I am, however, much more aware of this problem then I used to be and taking active steps to leave work at the office, when possible.

Easier said than done

Especially for anyone (like myself) trying to establish a reputation and advance their career. You can see how someone who wants to “prove themselves” would be willing to do whatever it takes to stand out. For a time this might be necessary to establish yourself, but I would caution that if you do not set up boundaries for work, you create the expectation that you will always respond to work emails during the evening and weekends at which point it becomes more difficult to stop.

When you’re at the beach, be at the beach.

When You’re at the Office, Be at the Office

Let’s also consider another downside of thinking about work while you are at home; You’ll be more likely to think about personal issues while you’re at work. This is especially true for those of us with a spouse and kids. If you can’t devote the attention your family deserves while you’re at home that will likely put a strain on your relationships. This strain will cause stress. That stress will most likely manifest itself while you are at work. Now you’re thinking about problems in your personal life, while you’re at the office.

When you’re at work, be at work.

Don’t Be the Office Clown

As Jim says “work is serious business, not grim but serious”. You are dedicating nearly half your waking life to your job. That is as serious a commitment as there is and that is how you should treat it. Work should be a happy place, you should have close personal relationships with your co-workers, but it should be taken seriously. If you have a reputation as the office clown rather than the office workhorse you are jeopardizing your future and your family's future.

Treat your work with the respect it deserves.

Economic policy wonk by day. Personal finance writer by night. I write about investing, debt, and all things related to money. Editor of Making of a Millionaire

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