Setting limits


Work will happen 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, if you let it. We are all in that place where we are all letting it…, and I don’t know why. – Shonda Rhimes

To be the best teacher or leader we can be requires that we pay attention to all aspects of our life, not just to the hours that we are at work.

One important aspect of taking care of ourselves is setting boundaries about what we will and will not do at home.

The beginning of a new year provides an opportunity to think more deeply about and establish goals for limits that we will set in our work lives.

Cal Newport’s blog post, from which the quote above is drawn, provides a broader perspective on this problem as it relates to the ceaseless email that can eat up personal and family time.

Newport notes that Rhimes has the following signature appended to all her e-mails:

“I don’t read work e-mails after 7 pm or on weekends, and if you work for me, may I suggest you put down your phone?”

Like most important things in organizations, leaders set the tone and establish the rules through their own example and the work culture they help create.

What do you think? Can we set limits to the work we will do at home, and, if we are leaders, help others in our organizations do the same?

4 Responses to “Setting limits”

  1. 1 Kent Peterson January 6, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Excellent points. If leaders overwork, they become role models for excess and a lack of balance. Leaders must know what is important and not just urgent (or in one’s text list). Then act on what is important.

  2. 3 cultureofyes January 7, 2016 at 1:32 am

    Dennis – I agree with the premise of setting limits but in our digital world I am not sure they need to be organized around traditional ideas that “work” happens during certain hours and “leisure” happens during certain hours. I would far rather work late at night and complete work that I can do by myself rather and have some hours “off” from 5 – 7 pm to spend with my young children. I am very public that I find time to coach my kids sports and otherwise be engaged in family life away from the office. I think the modern world offers some of this kind of flexibility. So, yes, let’s put our phones down, but let’s not get stuck on an old construct of work days.

    Chris Kennedy

    • 4 Dennis Sparks January 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      I really appreciate you sharing your perspective with readers, Chris. Given the higher-than-usual number of views yesterday, it was a subject that obviously struck a nerve. I hope that other readers share their experiences with us.

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