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Is it possible to set boundaries between work and personal life?  That’s a question that’s interested me for some time.

During the recent earthquake VolCan, the charity I manage, was operated from my home, by telephone and Facebook.  This was entirely my choice, and it was for one week in a civil emergency.  What if unforeseen circumstances meant it had to continue indefinitely?

In fact I run a small celebrancy business from my home, but again this is my choice and I can set limits.  For ten years I was a Justice of the Peace with people phoning and knocking on the door at all hours of the day and night.  Because I’m centrally located I got an average of four or five calls every day.  The constant interruptions meant I had to physically leave home to get a break, and after ten years I chose to ‘retire’.  (I was also disillusioned by the lack of support from the J.P.s’ association for any discussion of setting limits, self care, or the needs of volunteers.)

I’m aware that new technology means that many workers are obliged to be on call 24 hours a day as this story from SocialMediaNZ shows:

My place: Businesses and the relationships we form are increasingly global now and the report notes that the workplace will become more virtual with “meetings occurring across time zones and organizations and with participants who barely know each other, working on swarms attacking rapidly emerging problems.” My place is an interesting concept where many employees won’t have a company provided desk or physical office and work will happen 24/7 and the “lines between personal, professional, social and family matters, along with organization subjects, will disappear.”

So far I’ve managed to restrict my cellphone use to emergency only, but lately other calls/texts are creeping in.  Currently I use my camera more often than my cellphone.  How long will that last, I wonder?

When I meet with Maori, even though I’m representing VolCan, my whakapapa and whanau are seen to be there with me.  Te ao Maori does not distinguish between personal and professional.

I’m lucky to have paid work I’m passionate about.  As with others who work in the voluntary/charity sector part of my reward is the love factor, and I’m more than willing to promote my organisation in social situations, and do odd tasks in my ‘own’ time.  The difficulty of setting limits between personal and professional is a subject that often sparks discussion among not-for-profit managers.  I write the monthly VolCan newsletter,  am planning an article along these lines, and would love to have more discussion about it.  What do you think?

“Can we keep bounds ‘twixt work and play?
Is this impossible today?”

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