Yes or No to “after-hours” work/email?

yes-noAs we enjoy an extended holiday break away from the daily routine of work (and the fact its the time of year for resolutions), I wanted to reflect on how I balance my time between work and leisure. There are different perspectives out there! For example, here is an article that was recently shared by a colleague: No more work email from home? Employers step in to prevent burnout from staffers.

Volkswagen turns off some employees’ email 30 minutes after their shifts end. Goldman Sachs is urging junior staff to take weekends off. BMW is planning new rules that will keep workers from being contacted after hours.

Some may think cutting off access to email is a little radical, including this article: Is working on weekends the secret to a successful, happy work-life balance?

That said, as I’ve studied people’s schedules, I’ve come to think that there’s nothing inherently wrong with working on weekends if it’s done within some limits. For many people, working on weekends is actually the key to making work and life work together.

The second article goes on to put forth the idea that if you love your work, it doesn’t seem much like work and it’s no big deal to put in the “extra hours.” But is that the case with every line of work? All the time, regardless of the job? How is education different? For me, my personal preference is to do some work in the evening and on the weekend, past regular work hours. This allows me the flexibility during the workday to tap into a variety of tasks, both routine and innovative. If I didn’t allot extra time, my workday would be consumed solely with mundane tasks, allowing little or no room for the innovative things that make the job enjoyable. I’m not saying that’s all I do – work every waking hour, 7 days a week. Far from it. It is very possible to consistently build in family-time and activities that provide some downtime from the pace of work life while still moving beyond the routine tasks of the day. You first have to have the autonomy in your job to do this, and then you have to have the time management skills to make it happen.

What works best for you? Email/work only during regular work hours? Or do you prefer to blur the lines a little? And what field of work do you find yourself in? I think what career, along with the kind of autonomy you have in that career, does make a difference in what works best.

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