By Kate Clark
In the age of Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone, and Gchat, there is no such thing as work-life balance. It’s impossible to leave anything anywhere. Our loved ones are able to follow our every move via social platforms like Twitter and Foursquare, the same way our boss knows we just got their email because we carry our smart phone everywhere. Anyone with their work email tied to their smart phone knows how hard it is to ignore the sound of your email buzzing regardless of where you are. Since emails won’t stop arriving during dinner, we may as well learn how to deal with them without offending anyone or driving ourselves crazy. Here are five things to help maintain a healthy work-life blend:
1) Like your job.
If you don’t want to be at your job during required hours, you certainly won’t want to blend it into your life outside office hours. Being excited about a new project or liking your team makes it a lot easier to answer that urgent email that you received during your Sunday morning brunch or right after you land at your vacation destination.
2) Have rules.
While it might be okay to answer an email at brunch, you may feel that vacation time is off limits. Know your boundaries, for example: putting up an out of office message when you’ve got the flu is an easy way to let people know you care but that you’re taking personal time. Make sure that anyone you share your life with gets a say as well, maybe you don’t mind dinnertime emails but your kids might.
If a coworker doesn’t respect your work-life boundaries then you need to talk with them, whether it’s a needy coworker or an overly demanding boss. If you continue to respond to them outside office hours they may assume that you’re fine with that level of communication. Sit them down and have an honest conversation about everyone’s expectations and try to find a compromise.
Rules are made to be broken. If you have a project that could make or break your promotion, then maybe you need to answer emails during dinner. Just the same if you have a family emergency, you should tell your office that while you’re usually available, this is an exception and you appreciate their respect. Always make sure you know your priorities.
5) Make it count.
If you’re going to work outside the office then be productive. Don’t spend 4 hours surfing the web and working at the same time. Sit down and make your time count so that you can go back to enjoying the life that you work so hard to support. Remember, if you adopt that same work ethic at work and you may not have to work outside the office in the first place.
Kate Clark is the Marketing Manager at eHire in Atlanta. Follow her @katelanta for more insights on career development and the IT Industry.