I need to figure out a balance between efficiency and sanity before it kills me.
It was 7 o’clock in the evening, and I was hitting refresh on my emails. In my defence, I was working, and there was information that I needed to extract so that I could do my job. Then it was 10 o’clock at night, and I was hitting refresh on my emails. I checked my primary inbox, my “save for later” inbox and even my spam inbox. After the third time in 10 minutes, I realised that I had a problem.
There is a very fine line between being dedicated and being obsessed. I’m currently working two jobs. My first job said they were slowing down and would have to cut my hours to part-time, so I found a second part-time job. But the slowdown never happened so I’m trying to squeeze work in whenever I can. Last week I was asked to put together a schedule right as I was leaving and I said yes, but that it would have to be that evening because I had to go to my second job. When Monday arrived, I was scolded for sending out an email late on a Friday because nobody checks that. I was told that I should have texted each person instead. Here’s the catch; nobody wants to get a work-related text message at 10 PM on a Friday. It’s a really tricky double-standard where I am expected to be reachable at all times, but how dare I impose on someone else’s free time?
I have two phones. It seems a little ridiculous to carry two phones with me but I find that the separation is necessary. I don’t want to say hello to my grandmother using my phone voice and I also don’t want to come across as overly casual to a client. Attempting to set some healthy boundaries, I now turn my work phone off when I am not working. It seems like a simple thing but allows me a little bit of freedom from my electronic tether. Most of my colleagues have both numbers and there was a rash of incidents where I would not answer or return a call within two minutes and so the caller would just swap numbers and call again. A few years ago, I built a literal flowchart for my coworkers on when it is and is not acceptable to call my home number. Contact me if there is an emergency and you require my immediate assistance. Or if there’s a cute dog, that’s also acceptable.
In what I now realise to be a terrible mistake, I have my work emails forwarded to my personal phone. I just have to learn to apply the same sort of rules to emails as I did to the phone calls. While there are many situations that do require a prompt response, many emails can wait until the next workday. Anything in excess can be dangerous and burning myself out on emails at midnight is not going to help anyone out in the long run.
Now I’m off to have a cup of tea and ignore my emails for an hour.