How to Stay Productive at Work When You’re Dealing with a Breakup!

You are trying to move on from your breakup, but when you are at work, you can’t focus. You may want to call your ex for answers and might be stewing on what went wrong. It is vital that you get yourself refocusing now. If not, you could have two problems: moving on from the breakup AND having to look for another job! The following 5 tips will help you stay productive while at work so the breakup won’t lead to a write up and you can start moving forward.


Know the difference between rumination and problem solving

When we go through a breakup we want to understand what happened and it’s natural for us to play things over to see what could have been done differently, etc. But it becomes rumination when you are thinking about these things and NO NEW INFORMATION comes out of it. No learning or insights. All this does is spiral up your anxiety and decrease your focus. Your mood gets worse and it can make you want to leave work all together. So it’s important to identify if it is rumination and if so, practice saying STOP- and the go-to steps (2)


Re-focus to a Solvable Problem

Take 1-2 steps on something that is actually solvable. Whether it is an important work task or something else related to your values (friends, family, hobby, etc.). Take one or two steps in that area and watch how your anxiety and discomfort go down and let you refocus.


Don’t Fight it – Ride it

Allow yourself to feel pain and don’t try NOT to. TRYING to push it off will make it harder to fight and possibly even make it worse. If you allow the pain to just be there without negative commentary, the feelings will come and go for a bit, but then will dissipate more and more until you heal and that uncomfortable feeling washes out.


Engage with others, Regardless

Whether you feel like it or not, engage with others at work. Hiding in your space at work will make a snowball effect and can lead to more problems. Reach out in constructive and positive ways, be helpful, etc. Watch how these little steps lead to larger mood improvement steps and better coping skills.


The “Good” and The “Bad”

You likely have a skewed memory of your ex. When you miss your ex, the memory is positive, but at other times you feel angry, and the memory is negative. Whatever you are feeling in the moment, remind yourself that, though you will miss many things in the relationship, you WONT miss_____________ (list the things that you will not miss). This will help you process and rebalance by incorporating the reality of both perspectives that grief throws you into.

Put a time limit on this practice at work (2 minutes) then focus back to the work at hand. This will build confidence that you CAN cope. If you don’t feel like it – tell yourself you will focus back at work for at least 5 minutes and then re-evaluate. You have to start for the feeling to click back.



You CAN take control over your breakup grief and be productive at work. Follow these 5 steps. You will be glad you did. Sign up for my email newsletter for more tips.

Paul DePompo, PsyD, ABPP is author of The Other Woman’s Affair – gambling your heart and reclaiming your life when your partner is married.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment