You’re kicking back a little. You’ve busted it all week to make sure you can skate out on Friday without a hitch and have a fantastic weekend.

Then he walks up to you. Puts his coffee cup on the wall of your cubicle and says it. The most dreaded words in businessdom …

‘I just sent you a meeting invite for 5 p.m. today.’ And while he blubbers an apology, the smirky smile cancels out the regret he pretends to feel and you resign to the fact your work week just got a few hours longer.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a full time employee or a contractor, late meetings on Friday are generally considered bad business etiquette. Productive work can not be completed as everyone is dying to hit the door for the weekend and a manager scheduling a meeting at such a time makes him seem uncaring and out of touch – not to mention a little less human.

Having, on several occasions had valuable family time infringed upon by boundary-less management, it’s been important for me to set some rules to work by when it comes to prioritizing time on and off the job. These rules require you to think of your time on and off the job in such a way that you quickly realize that whichever ‘bank’ the time falls into, it is irreplaceable. You are finally forced to make a choice as to which time is more valuable and come to terms with what you need to do if you truly want to achieve balance.

Family Time Is Inherently More Valuable Than On-The-Job Time

Even if you are a salaried employee, you can break down what your time is worth. Contractors already do this and are used to calculating an hourly rate for everything.

Most people can confirm their hourly rate by the actions that bring in or will eventually bring in revenue. This is of course valuable, but it is important to put an hourly rate on your intangibles. The intangibility of spending time with family cannot necessarily be calculated monetarily. However, you can trick yourself into thinking about an Hourly Family Rate.

This, HFR, is 5 times more valuable than an hourly rate. While constantly having to do trade-offs between high value family functions and real billable work, a person can start seeing some of the tradeoffs being made and adjust accordingly. Also having it down on paper makes a person take notice of anything that might be askew.

Set Acceptable Contact Boundaries

Everyone needs to know your contact time boundaries; Emails, texts, meetings and calls outside those boundaries do nothing but cause confusion and stress. For projects with managers who don’t seem to have a problem contacting you at all hours, as a contractor, you can alert management that contact outside regular working hours will be charged at 1.5 – 2 times the hourly rate. This will discourage impromptu Friday 5 o’clock meetings. It will also urge project managers to respect your time more.

For those working on salaried wages, it is a little trickier as you can’t necessarily inflict more cost to make your point. But what you can do is NOT check mail in off hours. If your position doesn’t require 24/7 access, don’t make yourself available. If you do, you’re setting precedent and only hurting yourself in the long run.

Set Acceptable Meeting Times

EVERYONE that has been in business for more than 3 seconds knows meetings before 9 a.m. are just asinine and anything after 4:30 is just rude.

Setting appropriate meeting times during core business hours ensures if you need to schedule someone who they could and should be there for the project’s success.

Intruding on employees’ personal time does nothing but cause animosity and disdain for a poorly run project. And for goodness sakes, don’t schedule working lunches. See Deanna Murray’s “Strategy Meetings No Longer For Angry Birds” for tips on good meetings!

While sometimes, exceptions must be made on a case-by-case basis, your productivity and happiness will go way up. Try a few of these tips; mix and match and customize them for your situation. Who knows, they just might work for you!

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