I’ve recently had a chat with my boss about my work / life balance and how I find work is affecting me personally outside of the regular office hours. Why is it we feel so obligated to stay connected after hours? Why is it we feel guilty if we aren’t?
My regular working hours are jam packed with stressful tasks & projects. I’m responsible for all aspects of HR plus am responsible for management related strategy / decision making and a whole slew of other bits & bobs. I’ve always worked in similar roles with similar levels of responsibilities and have always brought work home with me. I’ve always put work ahead of my personal life and relationships, mostly out of guilt.
I always felt bad leaving the office at 6 and shutting it off entirely for the evening. I had no issue taking calls at 8 pm, or responding to emails / texts / whatsapps at all hours of the night. But what was this doing to me, to my sanity and to my marriage?
When I don’t disconnect from emails and calls, I’m taking time away from my husband (and fur baby). I’m never fully invested in my personal time because work is always at the back of my mind. Generally, what I’m dealing with at work is stressful and I take the stress home with me. Why do I still feel the incessant need to be attached to my mobile so I can check emails and take calls as well?
When I finally had the chat with my boss about the need to have a better work / life balance, and not wanting to be contacted outside of work hours, I felt bad about it. I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing, or if I was putting a nail in my own coffin. At the end of the day, I didn’t care. I needed to be able to shut down and not feel bad about it. I needed to be able to spend an evening on the couch with my husband without being disturbed by work calls. I needed to go for a walk with my dog without being so disengaged on my mobile responding to emails.
What I’ve realised is, it can wait. Unless the building is burning down, I don’t need to know tonight, or any night after 6. Unless I’m walking into some terrible horror story tomorrow that may impact my, or any employee’s, health & safety, it can wait. This Easter we went to Dubrovnik for a weekend and to ensure I didn’t do a cheeky email check (which I’ve been scolded for doing before), I deleted the app. I didn’t want the temptation and without the app at the ready, I wasn’t.
My husband and I are now figuring out how we want to spend our evenings together. We’re going to start Couch to 5K and plan to spend our evenings (and holidays) enjoying each other’s undisrupted company.
How do you have difficult conversations with your boss about work / life balance?