Friday is no longer the end of the working week

Once upon a time office workers would go to work on Monday morning, do their hours in a set pattern each day ( to 5) through to Friday. On a set time on Friday the weekend would begin and no work would be done until the appropriate time on Monday morning.

San Francisco Bay in the MistFor myself and many others  this is no longer the case. 9 to 5 is dead and Friday is no longer the end of the working week.

The problem with this situation is that for many people there is no break at all – work just carries on.  With the office no longer working as the barrier to work, work can carry on anywhere, work creeps into every corner of our lives.

Whether we like it, or not, we each have the responsibility for creating the boundaries that all of us need to allow us to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Very few employers are going to do that for us, they’ve moved that responsibility down to the individual.

So I’ve decided that I am going to reinforce some boundaries to keep the work at bay.

As part of my own boundary creation I’ve recently set my BlackBerry to turn off in the early evening, and I’ve been trying my hardest to leave it turned off. I’m about to invest in a personal mobile phone to make it even less likely for me to need to turn it on.

I’ve also made it a rule that unless absolutely necessary I will not work on a Saturday or Sunday. “Absolutely necessary” is not something I have defined in too much detail, but I think I know what it is. I know that other colleagues work weekends, because they send me emails. Sometimes they expect a response, but they are learning that it’s not likely to come from me unless they manage to get my attention and communicate it as “absolutely necessary”. Sometimes I worry that I might be regarded in some way as not pulling my weight, but I remind myself that it’s about quality and quantity of output, it’s not about the hours spent on the job.

My next boundary creation project is to define what my evening demarcation is.

4 thoughts on “Friday is no longer the end of the working week”

  1. I suppose I’m retro. when I was a teacher – it was work a lot of the time – the contact time during the M-F was that contact with pupils, and evenings was preparation. When I moved to industry we had clocking on and off – what a release clocking off was!

    I think that in the main, I have retained that approach – I work to live and not live to work. Though I try to find interesting work – it’s not the be all and end all. So I’m either stubborn or disciplined to continue to work a working day and when it’s a time then I stop. I’m not saying that I’m rigid – like the days of clocking off – but when I finish I turn the work comms off – all of them. I hope that I have some flexibility in regard to some timings. But maybe not which is why I’m not a CTO or whatever. I guess that I’m not that ambitious.

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  2. A very enlightening post.

    For me, about 2 month ago, I was whisked into hospital where I had a week long stay. I was connected to all sorts of monitors and they were convinced that I’d suffered a heart attack. Following all the tests, it transpired that I hadn’t suffered a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism. It was likely that my heart had spasmed and released the Troponin chemical which was used as an indicator. But it was still a pretty harrowing experience in terms of having intrusive tests, and spending a week thinking I’d had a heart attack … at 33. Personally I think that I’d suffered a series of panic attacks, and was suffering from stress, depression and anxiety.

    I knew that I was quite seriously overweight and needed to get more exercise. I was also working at home, and so found it hard to get motivated to leave the house and hit the gym. Certain aspects of my role and projects were causing me stress, and also certain personal issues too.

    Spending the week in hospital, and the week recuperating I thought long and hard about how to improve my situation. Consequently the changes I have made are:

    * Work hard from 9 – 5.30 without disruption.
    * Try to avoid being distracted by social networks or email during the day. If so, for minimal time period.
    * Monitor what I’ve done and when and also what I want to achieve … to help me stay focussed.
    * At 5.30 turn off laptop screen and fetch son from nursery.
    * Spend time with family throughout the evening including bedtime duties.
    * Do not return to my home office unless I have a pressing deadline that really cannot be avoided. (Absolutely necessary).
    * Evenings and weekends – again spend time with family.
    * Embrace lifestyle changes such as walking in the beautiful local countryside and taking photographs.
    * Rent a rowing machine so that I can achieve regular exercise before work, and sometimes during my lunch break.

    Hopefully this will result in:
    Healthier and fitter me. Increased endorphins, and less stress. Better focussed throughput of work. This benefits both me and the company.

    My only vague area is “training”. As you know, we are encouraged to set aside time for training. I’m not sure my account/client would be too happy that I was doing so. Therefore I try to get the training done of an evening when my partner is at the gym and I have some quiet to concentrate.

    Work/Life balance … it’s not just a good idea, it ensures we are around to enjoy our retirements!

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  3. Good article Graham…

    I’ve long used the Blackberry auto start/turn-off, and do differentiate between the weekend weekday. Much later start and early turn-off at the weekend.

    Evening demarcation is fairly easy with me at the moment. Family tea and bed time routine kicks in – various clear indicators that the family must become the priority. I think that will become more vague as the family grows up.

    A certain amount of stubbornness and inertia (is that what they call assertiveness?) also helps prevent taking on unwanted cultural expectations.

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  4. Oh and also … it’s a pain in the bum, but I have:

    Work mobile … which is left in my office and a quiet ringer, so I can hear it when working but not from other rooms.

    Personal mobile … for contact with friends and family.

    Home landline … for contact with friends and family.

    Office landline (paid for by myself) .. for conference calls, and also allowing colleagues to call me. The ringer on this phone turns off at 6.30 until 8am. Callers can be persistent, but I won’t hear them!

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