Note: This blog originally published in August 2011.
Many people I know “brag” about how much they work – as if it’s a good thing. If you’ve made an intentional choice to let work dominate your life, maybe working around the clock is a good thing.
For the rest of us who enjoy our work but have strong commitments to family, faith and self, working around the clock is not a good thing – though we may enjoy the praise we receive from bosses, coworkers and others.
Change your unconscious behaviors
The best way to break the 24/7 work habit is to set some conscious boundaries and to change some unconscious behaviors. First, Blackberries and other PDAs need to be put in their place, preferably in a drawer during non-work hours.
If you are one to check your PDA when you get up and when you go to bed, and to send messages back as soon as you receive them, you create high expectations from people you work with, leaving little time to be “off the clock”.
Create your identity outside of work
It seems obvious, but taking time to be explicit about non-work priorities has been helpful to me in breaking the 24/7 work habit. This spring, I set goals for non-work related activities like writing the book I’ve put off writing for the past 10 years. And I’ve started tracking the number of hours I spend at work, while monitoring how much time I’m spending on other priorities, such as exercise and creative projects.
Last, I set up pleasurable activities for myself where PDAs are not invited. I go golfing, boating, or for a walk in the park. All of us need regular activities and identities outside of work. They make us more interesting people and ease transitions for us when we retire or are out of work during leaves or job loss.
Instead of “bragging” about my 24/7 work week, I can share some fun stories about the other eight waking hours in my day.