“Space, the final frontier…” I must confess that my heart went a little pitter pat when Spock intoned those famous words at the end of “Star Trek.”
Why, I wondered? It could be because I’m a least a partial nerd, but it felt like something more was going on.
Maybe it was because the famous theme music and inter-galactic vistas took me back to a time when “outer space explorer” seemed like a reasonable career goal.
Now that I’m supposed to be an adult, I feel compelled to keep my career goals more earthbound.
And when it comes to space my key objective is to carve out a little to call my own.
I’m not talking about physical space. My needs are more temporal, and essentially mental.
Remember when teachers used to tell you to do something “on your own time?” Back then you knew that your own time began pretty much as soon as you got out of school.
But now I find it really hard to tell when “my own time” starts. As a freelancer and theater artist, my work hours are almost irregular by definition, so figuring out when I can legitimately go off the clock takes work.
Except I know I’m not the only one with this problem. Raise your hand if you’ve ever checked your work e-mail or voice mail messages when you’re supposed to be on vacation.
I thought as much.
These days work doesn’t just dribble into what was once personal space. It positively flows.
I’m certain the dissolution of the boundary between our personal and professional lives takes a toll on our physical and mental health, stresses families and decreases productivity.
Yes, when work turns into The Blob That Ate Your Life, productivity drops. It’s an old time management truism that those who get used to going into the office on weekends become more prone to slacking off during the week.
And if you’re feeling ensnared by work responsibilities, you’re also more likely to conduct personal business during work hours. As tempting and imperative as that might seem, it’s not always appropriate.
The funny thing is, although where you work and the kind of work you do will color your approach to work-life differentiation, at root the decision is yours.
How do you juggle your private and professional lives? Do you turn off your cell phone? Set limits on reading e-mail? Follow strict schedules?
Perhaps expectations is the most important thing to manage, both yours and the people you work with. Setting clear standards regarding what’s expected of you in your professional life is a great way to start carving out some personal space.
If you can accept them yourself, then you’ll be ready to boldly go into a different kind of future.
by Danielle Dresden