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How to divorce-proof your professional life

It is a myth to think that something as significant as a divorce will not affect your professional life. Divorce will create significant upheaval in your personal life, even if you saw it coming or it was something you sought.

That said, the degree to which divorce affects your professional work is something you have some control over. Here are five ways to keep divorce from derailing your career.

1. Train yourself to compartmentalize.

When you come to work, be at work. It may be hard to focus when you’re worried about property division, custody and the possibility of paying alimony. This is understandable. However, being unfocused or unprepared can ultimately hurt not just your productivity but also your professional reputation. This is a good time to practice being mindful, focusing your attention only on the task in front of you.

2. Talk with your boss or a trusted superior.

While it is true that your divorce is not your boss or company’s business, knowing you are going through divorce can help your supervisor prioritize your projects and your schedule. You may need to ask for more time off or personal days than you normally would to meet with your divorce lawyer or attend court hearings. Working with your boss can help you maintain your productivity but give you more flexibility during this often unpredictable process.

3. Use time off strategically.

Try to minimize the amount of time you take off, especially if you have not yet informed your boss. You do not want to jeopardize your position by periodically showing up late or not showing up at all. Losing your job (and income) due to poor performance is unlikely to help your custody case or give you an advantage during property division negotiations.

4. Be more cautious about what you share with coworkers.

No one wants to become the subject of office gossip. You may feel comfortable talking about your divorce with coworkers, but it could become grist for the rumor mill. Similarly, blaming your unproductivity on your divorce is unlikely to elicit sympathy from those who have had to pick up your slack.

Moreover, use extreme caution when sharing divorce details via company email or chat services. Do not assume these conversations will stay private. They could be fair game for the court if your divorce becomes highly contested. Save the stories for your coffee break or lunchtime conversations. As always, use workplace communications systems for professional purposes only.

5. Take care of yourself.

Throwing yourself into your work can be a nice distraction from your divorce, but do not overdo it. Make sure you take time do other things that make you happy, like spending time with your kids or pursuing your favorite hobby. Consider seeing a family therapist, even now, while the details of divorce are still being worked out.

Similarly, forgive yourself for not working at 110 percent like normal. Divorce is difficult, even if it’s for the best. If you can only give 80 percent on a given day, let that be ok.

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