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Work Life: Finding the Balance and Setting Boundaries

MI have a smart phone that can be enabled to received work emails – 24 hours a day. I can check my emails before I go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning (according to statistics, most of us already do). I had a call this week that went from 6pm until 10pm because the physical location of the meeting was in America. I sit in London and manage an employee in Madrid. I have been even been known to say, “The US will work on it – it will be ready first thing tomorrow.” We all work in a global office where the twenty four hour work day exists. So how do you make sure work isn’t taking over your life?

Society is working towards being more flexible working situations – laptops allow working from home, both parents will have equal leave after a child is born and a meeting doesn’t mean getting on an airplane. All this flexibility can backfire. The average UK worker who has a 9 to 5 job, actually works twelve hours a day. According to Hays, 70% of employees said work is more stressful than a year ago but people are happy.

If you are unhappy, who is to blame? Not your boss, says Katherine Reynolds Lewis. Employees have flexibility. My calls and emails can all be done on the go, even outside of work hours. I am solely responsible though when it becomes too much. One of the tips in Lewis’ article is to schedule everything – including social activities and exercise. This allows you to set boundaries. I have yet to start this but it makes more sense.

If you have a boss that isn’t so flexible (see Marissa Mayer’s announcement that Yahoo employees are no longer allowed to telecommute), make sure you still schedule activities. Are you leaving an hour early for a doctor’s appointment? Stay an hour later the next day.  Put in the quality time that you need to do your job. Don’t take advantage either – we all know someone who has said they are “working from home” today but never seem to respond to those important emails.

My newest resolution: Turning off my work emails on my phone, especially when I arrive to the office at eight and leave at six. It gives me an actual feeling of “being out of the office”. Sure, if the world is ending, call me about something work related. But if it can wait until tomorrow, I will sort it out then.

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