How Much Does Work Bleed into the Rest of Your Life?

I’ve been thinking lately about how work is not a contained part of our lives–and how that can adversely affect our happiness and family time.

I’ve talked before about my lunch hour being eradicated by meetings. In her Life’s Work column today, New York Times reporter Lisa Belkin discusses the problem of “meetings with food” as “yet another symptom of an overstuffed day.”

There’s also checking (and responding to) work email early in the morning, late at night, on weekends, and even on vacation. People with crackberries have even more issues with this.

Perhaps worst of all is thinking about work outside of work. If you can’t leave your job when you leave the office–if it follows you around as you go about the rest of your life, even in your dreams!–then you feel like you’re working all the time. And that’s not good for anyone.

I liked this quote from Belkin’s column about taking responsibility for drawing the line:


The important point, said Patrick Gray, the president of the Prevoyance Group, an I.T. consulting firm in Charlotte, N.C., is that you can’t wait for someone to step in and simplify your schedule for you.

“The biggest mistake people make when managing ‘work-life balance’ is assuming someone else will do it for us,” he said. “We as individuals are the only ones that control how our day is spent, and need to ration our time as jealously as we guard our pocketbooks. If you gave 100 people unrestrained access to your bank account, would you be surprised when they made thoughtless withdrawals?”


I’m curious, WMAGs, what your experiences have been with this work-life hemorrhaging business. What do you do (if anything) to set your limits?

6 thoughts on “How Much Does Work Bleed into the Rest of Your Life?

  1. Something that has helped me curb this behavior is the thought that I’m not getting PAID for all that “overtime”–whether it’s actual work, checking email, or invading my thoughts. I work to live, not live to work.

    Having O helped clarify this for me…

  2. It is hard. That’s why I’ll never, NEVER buy a crackberry. I know I would be addicted. But even without one, work easily bleeds into the rest of my life. Sometimes I think its just mom over-multitasking syndrome. I think I can come home cook dinner, get my son set up with homework, and check email at the same time.

    I think a good rule to start is to ban all computers/PDAs during non-working hours. Turn them off and keep them off.

  3. I find it extremely difficult to leave work at the office. The main reason for this is that my husband and I work for the same company, in the same department. What, for most people, may be a simple vent about the day or a “what would you do” question turns into a night long discussion about the job. I try to make sure we cut off all discussions by 8PM but it is not so easy.

    I do find that leaving my laptop at work or even in the car keeps me from those quick peeks at my work email while I am waiting for another page to load.

  4. jamie lentzner says:

    Love your blog – think I need to subscribe! Uh…I am guilty, just got back from vacation and had my “crackberry” with me at all times. Best thing for me is to leave the country – then I can only check email once a day.

  5. ParentPreneur says:

    So my client bought me a crackberry (I know…BAD sign) but I have been able to keep it in its place…so far.

    The secret, in addition to not waiting for someone else to do it for you (Love that!) is to define what YOUR boundaries are. My kids are older now so they’re out of the house by 7:10 am, making breakfast meetings doable again. I, too, resist dinner meetings as much as possible but it is all about what works for you!

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