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.
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.