Paying personal bills while at work may be bad for your health.
About 90 percent of women who pay more than five bills at work are more stressed about personal finances than those who keep their personal finances at home.
That is the finding of a new survey of more than 10,000 professional women members of WorldWIT, a free global online networking group
that includes professional women ages 25 to 50 working in business and technology. The study was co-sponsored by E-Duction, the provider of payroll deduction technology.
On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer. As soon as the line between work-work and home-work starts to blur (in either direction) that's the moment when stress kicks in. We all know that, or should by now.
We also should know that a very nimble few workers can juggle two or more roles successfully. The rest of us are dropping balls - and bills - all over the place.
According to the survey, there are other types of personal finance that get done at the workplace. Employees may also be budgeting, refinancing their houses and other such activities on company time.
By contrast, more than two-thirds of the women who claimed to be financially stress-free do not pay any bills while at work.
It's no secret that more stress (whatever its source) causes decreased productivity and overall distraction. The WorldWIT report referred to a 1998 study by Dr. Tom Garman, which found that half of all employees experiencing financial stress are so impaired that their job performance is affected. That's bad all around. Productivity goes down, mistakes and accidents go up.
Say It Isn't So
It's hard for me to tell you to stop doing private business at work. I would have to ignore one of the great workplace realities: Not every moment at the office is devoted to business. Ohmygosh, can this be true? Heck, yes. All around your cube - and probably in it - people are calling their doctors, sisters, spouses, friends, accountants, banks and voicemail.
I will say this. If this describes you, at least consider compartmentalizing. This works well for any multi-tasking day, but even more so if you are trying to corral personal business.
You can compartmentalize by time of day and by geography. Make those calls and pay those bills early in the day or at the end.
Everything in Its Place
Doing personal business on your lunch hour allows you to compartmentalize by time and place. Go to another room at your office or take your "home office" to the car. You can use a cell phone there, rather than the office phone. You could also try using the car in the morning, getting the personal business taken care of first, before you even walk into the office.
Relocating these types of activities provides the added benefit of getting you away from your desk. (As someone who eats at her desk much too often, I should know better. But I can attest the excellent head-clearing effect of just standing up and walking away - the farther the better!)
Some of you will protest that there is no time at the end of the day to compartmentalize for anything. The unfinished jobs pile up at closing time like a slag heap next to a coal mine.
Well, mostly that's true. In order of greatest practicality, I would say morning and lunch are better. But just as an experiment, set an alarm for one-half hour before you leave. This is the mop-up part of your work day anyway, so it's worth at least a try to see if you can mop up that other, personal, stuff too.
And now a word from our sponsor: Professionalism. Except for certain phone calls, most of this personal business should be done at home, either at the beginning or the end of the day. The reason most of us don't do our homework at home is the same reason most of us don't get finished with our work-work. We run out of time and we get tired. We could wake up half an hour early, but we're exhausted.
Here's a thought. Stress that you don't address during the day haunts your dreams. So try taking that half-hour before bedtime to pay those bills. You might just sleep a little easier.