Friday, February 03, 2006

The one where I ramble on about the balance b/w worklife and personal life.

I guess, I may be a minority when it comes to workplace bathroom usage.

With the prevalence of wireless technologies keeping us connected to our bosses and our offices, is it possible to have a typical 9 to 5 worklife? I highly doubt it. I’m the biggest techno geek girl there is. I’ll love the cool gadgets and love to find alternate ways to use new technologies to enhance my everyday. That’s why I’m a technology project manager. This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy shutting off my cell, pda and computer for awhile.

These sabbaticals recharge me and reinvigorate me. My worklife was much more hectic back when I worked in IT. There were days I’d work until 11pm then head home and work some more. The first thing I did when I woke up was log in and verify systems were up and running and overnight fires were put out.

My schedule is slightly more relaxed now but that doesn’t mean that my private time is all mine either. Take for example the time I took off between my old job and my new job. Even though I was technically, ‘unemployed’, I found myself checking my work email several times a day to ensure that the proper people were receiving the emails and responding timely.

There is an inherent responsibility to make sure everything is status quo. People are appalled when I tell them that vendors have called me on my cell phone, even during my wedding, to keep me abreast of data transmissions. I suppose that’s my life.

I’m not a high powered executive so I can only imagine what their lives are like. Seldom do I think this routine is out of the norm and unfair. It just is.

An old boss of mine once told me that separation of church and state is important. When she’s in Ireland, she doesn’t care if the network has blown up. It’s not her problem. Try all you will but her cell phone will not be answered. “People who let work seep into their private lives are sad individuals.”

I don’t consider myself sad and when it comes to my private time, I rarely talk about work. Is checking my email occasionally intruding on my private time? A little but I don’t think it’s so significant that my family and myself suffer for it. I only respond to an email if and only if it’s critical. Otherwise all other emails can wait until my return.

Next month I plan to purchase a smartphone. My purse is bursting with gadgets and if I can consolidate my camera, cell phone and pda into one device, I’m going to try. Will this be another assault on my private life? Not unless I let it. Sure I’ll have instant access to the internet and my company network via VPN but in all honesty, the internet will probably be used for address look up and movie showtimes.

I think my ex-boss misspoke. Everyone has responsibilities, personal and business. Your top priority is to ensure that your personal responsibilities are not encumbered by your professional. In the end, it’s not what you did but who you were. Don’t let life pass you by because a company needs their 3rd quarter projections to be higher than they truly are.

What about those who are self-employed and run their own business. My father was an OMD and most of his time was spent devoted to his practices. When he first started, my mother helped with the day to day operations so I rarely saw both. I know how your work is part of your personal life when you are self-employed. Your entire family, young and old, pitches in and sacrifices together.

I’ve seen the blood, sweat and tears that come along with privately owned businesses. That’s why I don’t pursue the cafĂ© of my dreams. I’m not willing to make my family sacrifice for my personal goal. I love my dad and am proud of what he accomplished and do not regret the sacrifices our family made to help him. I’m just not that person.

I guess, when it comes down to it, I’m not the sad person that my ex-boss said I was. I know when and where to put the brakes on work taking over my life. It’s just a matter of tolerance. Like in every aspect of life, everyone has a different level of tolerance.

If you find checking your email and corresponding while you’re in the loo completely fine, keep doing it. Just don’t forget to mute the phone when you flush and for gosh sakes, wash your darn hands! If you don’t mind an occasional call at 11pm, so be it.
In between the mojitos and margaritas, I’ll keep checking my email. All that counts is that you’re happy and content.