- Crushing It -
should I work outside office hours?
by fergus mellon
This is one of the tougher struggles I have had: bringing the office home with me. Early on in your career I see this as being one thing that you really need to get comfortable with.
If you are anywhere near ambitious you should be happy to work outside office hours. This does not mean that you should give up your weekends and evenings all the time (unless you are a start-up Queen or King in the making, an investment banker, a lawyer or at some big time consulting group and so paid accordingly). It does mean that in the days where we have smart devices with easy access to email that you should check-in on email in the evenings and over the weekends.
Your manager and company leadership do. You should also do it if you want to be perceived as someone who is committed and should have more responsibility. As a minimum I recommend you check your email an hour before you head to bed (around 10:00 pm so you can give your brain time to relax before you actually get into bed!) during the weekdays and during the weekend check-in in the morning, lunchtime and afternoon. Even if you acknowledge the email and say "I will be happy to help. Here is the status and it is a top priority and I will get to it first thing [Monday] [tomorrow]" that is a start. Even better answer the question quickly or complete the task quickly and your manager will be only too grateful for your help. View it as helping your manager do their job and making them look good by allowing them to give responses to their managers. You will be surprised just how happy these small acts make your manager. You will also find that the times you help are also going to be rare so the encroachment into your free time will be limited. I promise! However your motivation and the view of you from your manager and their managers is going to be more than positive based on the small amount of additional work you do. You will become "their gal/guy", the Ms. or Mr. Fixit.
How I manage the smartphone / out of hours intrusion!
Email used to be the last thing I would do before I went to bed at 11:00pm and the first thing I looked at when I woke at 7:00am. It was awful. If there was an email where someone wanted to disagree with me, it would stop me sleeping as I was so riled up by the communication. If I checked email when my alarm went off, sometimes I would not want to get out of bed as I knew I was going to have a bad day.
It was awful.
The smartphone / office email was ruling all my time. Now what I do is have strict hours when I do not check email: between 10:00pm and 8:30am. It may not sound like much and really it isn't (only 10.5 hours per day) but it makes a huge difference for me. I have more time to myself and I sleep better. Note, that this works for me and also still allows me to meet the expectations of my employer. If you are not so lucky and have an "always, always on" culture, getting more even 10.5 hours break every work day is probably not feasible. If this is the case, do not complain. Work with it, it will not be forever.
Sometimes you can get a pass from "always on" and I made an exception when I got married! When I got married I asked my manager if during the two weeks when I would be on honeymoon I could not check email as I wanted to spend time with my wife and take a real break from the office. My manager was only too happy to give me the "off corporate email pass" and helped manage expectations of me internally so that I would not be considered a slacker. It was allowed.
This may all sound tough and no fun at all and as I write this, I agree it is no fun! That said it is all part of the deal in having a career in a world of super connected devices. Your manager faces this issue. Likely your parents face this issue. Embrace it in the same way as you do social media updates from your friends: a normal part of living and operating in today's world!
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