Yesterday I conducted a class. There was a lively discussion about boundaries and respecting the “off” time of colleagues and employees. I said that receiving an email during the weekend was like getting a mental ping when you are trying to watch a movie, mow the grass, or play catch with the dog.
One senior leader disagreed and said that he didn’t expect to get answers to his emails immediately, he just wanted to get items off his to-do list. Another employee responded, “Yes, off of your list, and onto mine, while I am trying to go to the grocery store in relative peace.” Another countered, “If I don’t answer it, and everyone else does, then my perspective on important issues gets passed over.”
There was mutiny in the room. The senior leader said, “I should be able to work whenever I want. Why are you trying to limit my work hours?” While there was disagreement in the room on that topic, there is no disagreement about the negative health effects of always being “on.”
I have written a Dr. Seuss-style poem to help you remember boundaries for yourself and your employees.
I do not want to hear from you on my commute.
I do not want your voice as background when I play my flute.
I like my work, and to be a star.
But I turn work off when I get in my car.
And my weekends are sacrosanct.
When you text me then, you cause me angst.
I plead with you, no texts, no emails, and no calls on vacation.
No thoughts of you or work when I am chasing relaxation.
And you say you want to get ahead for the week.
Might be good for you, but that’s not the life I seek.
This total connection and being “on,”
Makes me feel like a cog in a wheel, sometimes a pawn.
Make your list and check it twice.
Then bury it till Monday,
And we’ll enjoy the other parts of life.
How do you set boundaries between work and your “off” time?