Today's always-on work culture can sometimes feel like we're slacking off if we're not available 24/7. But to be ridiculously efficient, we've got to find ways to rebel against this paradigm, reset expectations and aggressively protect downtime so that we can free up our evenings.
What follows is the best method I've found to reset expectations with clients and coworkers.
Schedule Something Unmissable
[contextly_auto_sidebar id="0bzWFOL7ZPGUVcOBSR6yeaccoSOGZwaO"]Set up your day so that you have a mandatory something to do that creates a "hard stop."
Parents, perhaps your child has to get picked up from practice or daycare or lessons by a certain time.
Non-parents, perhaps you have a mastermind meeting, or Pilates, or a session with your personal trainer. (Pro tip: Make this activity something linked to productivity boosts, like exercise or meditation.)
Level this up on the weekends by starting up an all-day activity that makes getting connected difficult or impossible. (Saturday morning hikes are my go-to activity.)
If you get pushback, put the ball in your colleague or boss's court and ask him or her which weekend day (or which weekend evenings) he or she would prefer you be available. This step will subtly reset expectations regarding availability on the other days.
Here's a quick example, so you can see it in action: Boss: I've noticed that it's hard for me to get ahold of you on the weekends. You: Yes - my husband/wife/kids/neighbors and I have started doing Saturday morning hikes to decompress and get some quality time together. Boss: Well, Saturday is when many of us get caught up, and there might be work that needs your attention. You: I'm usually back by 3 p.m. and can check then for anything pressing. Or I can take a longer hike on Sunday instead. Either way, I find that I'm much more energetic and productive during the week when I have time on the weekend to exercise outside.
In my experience, the conversation above is usually enough to get the full weekend uninterrupted... but that's also because I back up my statements with performance. Be sure that as you reset expectations with others, you make promises you can keep.