Three Strategies We Use for Work That Requires Attention 24/7

In an ideal world, you shouldn’t need to hear from your boss when you don’t have time. Some jobs, especially paid ones, can be a pipe dream. When a job requires attention at any time, we have three ways to deal with it.

The Harvard Business Review professional management website describes three different ways in which workers and managers alike deal with the dichotomy when they have free time but still need to be available to work. In such cases, there is social pressure to either hide or sacrifice parts of your life that are not related to your work. Faced with this choice, most workers choose one of three strategies to deal with it:

  • Acceptance: These workers recognize that their job is their top priority and usually give up whatever they do to get the job done if required of them. For example, they might reply to a work letter: “I’ll do it now!” and finish immediately.
  • Passer: These people will pretend to work immediately, but quietly try to find a way to get around the immediacy. For example, they might immediately respond to an email, but assume that the task will take some time to complete, giving them the opportunity to complete other activities.
  • Revealing: These people will talk openly about their external activities and will admit when they come into conflict. For example, they might reply to an email after office hours: “I’m having dinner with my family, I can’t get to it now.”

All of these strategies have natural consequences. Those who accept the imbalance between work and personal life may end up burning out or missing out on other areas of their lives. Passers-by can still move forward in their careers, but they are forced to constantly hide their lives. Whistleblowers have to defend their free time, but this can have negative consequences for their careers. HBR notes that none of these strategies are entirely good, and ideally it would be ideal to cultivate a work culture that accepts and accepts the outside life without punishing workers for them.

Intensive Workplace Management | Harvard Business Review


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