Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I work about 28 hours in the office, but most weeks its closer to 35 total because I am on call 24/7 to the execs. I mean 24/7. My bosses don’t think twice about calling me Saturday night or wanting an email answer by 5 a.m. I make a good wage but have no private time. The day staff resent me when I leave at 2:00, even though they know I carry my cell phone when I’m at the gym, walk the dog, and even when I go on a date. How can I get them to understand that my schedule is not the cushy deal they think it is?
You have two problems: your staff’s understanding of what you do and how you do it, and the unreasonable expectations of your bosses. I presume you’ve learned to turn off your cell occasionally, not merely when you are showering or sleeping, but for sanity. Even prisoners in maximum security detention have some mandated privacy.
As for getting your staff to understand, there’s a fine line between engaging their sympathy with stories of egregious interruptions, and needing to preserve sufficient respect for your collective bosses. (Remember, any story you tell can take on a life of its own.) Have staff meetings one or two mornings a week to review who is doing what, and to remind them you are their boss. As you talk about tasks you’ve undertaken or delegate tasks to them, drop mention that they originated in evening/weekend phone calls and emails. Also, check in randomly with your staff after you leave the office. It may undercut your semi-free time, but it will also remind them that you too are on duty.