Work-Life Balance: Creating Boundaries At Work For Others To Follow
In my related article, Work-Life Balance —Creating Boundaries For You To Follow, I talked about the priorities you have in your career and your personal life and the boundaries that you will follow. Now I’ll discuss the boundaries you can put in place for your fellow workers to follow.
Take an hour this week to look over last week’s work calendar. Make a typical monthly schedule based on the things that will most likely occur. Estimate the time that is necessary to handle email, phone calls, meetings, employee sessions, client sessions, reports, research, etc. Just as with your personal life, decide which ones are taking up more time than they deserve. In other words, which ones are not giving you much return in your career? Focus on how you can reduce the amount of time you’ll give away to these tasks.
Now let’s go over specific tasks. Email—it can be a time drain. What if you decided to check your email twice a day—would the world really fall apart? Pick a couple times that would be best for you and then tell your coworkers and clients. For instance, you could tell them you’ll check your email first thing in the morning and then again at 2 pm. This way you’ll have time after the 2 pm reading to act on any urgent messages without working into your Other Life time. Pick one or two times that will be best for phone calls. Let others know. You may want to separate who calls you during each time period.
Then decide if there’s a particular time of day that’s best for sessions with coworkers and clients. If you can do this, you can eliminate some of those unnecessary visits that resolve themselves. Depending on your office setup, you want may want to institute the Door Closed – Door Open signal for when you can be interrupted. Unexpected interruptions can be handled by saying, “I’d like to give you enough time to handle this well. How much time do you think we need to discuss this?” You then have the option of taking the time now or scheduling exactly that amount of time soon.
People appreciate knowing how long it will take to hear back from you on questions. Set a length of time. You may be able to tell them you’ll respond within 24 hours whenever possible.
For many of you, meetings eat up more time than they should. That’s why I’m giving you a tip this week for meetings. Now, here’s my tip.
Nancy Clark’s Tip of the Week:
Meetings can run longer than necessary depending on who’s conducting them. Which people in your organization run those Too Long Meetings? I bet a few names pop up. The next time you walk into one of those, perhaps at 1 pm, plan on what you’ll say so everyone can hear. For example, “Jim, I have a 2:30 conference call. Will that be a problem?” Or, you don’t even have to give a reason. You can merely say, “Jim, do you think you’ll need more than an hour?” When you’re in charge of meeting, set a good example for others to follow: Write an agenda with a time allotment to each topic. Stick to your timetable. When an important topic looks like it might run over, you can say, “This needs to be resolved. If we need more than the 10 minutes left, we should schedule another time to finish it.”
You can have a career and a life. Now, go out there and set your boundaries and set a good example for others to follow! Nancy Clark gives you a tip each week on her blog, Women’s Lunch Talk.