Imagine sitting in front of the football game on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying a beer. You’re looking forward to a peaceful evening before returning to Monday’s pace. Then you get a text from your boss, outlining three “quick” tasks she wants you to complete before the morning meeting. All of a sudden, the remainder of your peaceful weekend has vanished. Been there? So have many other people. So much so, that there’s now a name for it – the Sunday Scaries.

Digital technology has always been a mixed blessing. On one hand, it provides access and convenience to people, information and solutions. On the other hand, it enables businesses and employers to track our moves, choices, finances and time. One of these is this unspoken expectation that your employer should be able to communicate with you 24/7/365. If you’re okay with this, that’s fine. Stop reading here.

But if you’re feeling stressed and resentful about having to respond on the employer terms, consider taking the following steps:

Consider the culture that may be demanding this.In many ways, we’ve become a society of trying to do more with less. If this is characteristic of your firm, you may be faced with a choice about whether this is the right place for you. On the other hand, this may be more about a supervisor who lives for the job and expects others to do the same. Besides, if this is affecting you, chances are it is impacting others as well. You have every right to ask for a conversation about defining parameters of access in both day and time. But before doing so . . .

Clarify the balance you would like to achieve in work/life balance.Some people are okay working on the weekends because they’ll take a weekday off for something fun. Others cherish their weekends for family and a chance to recharge. What does your weekly balance look like? These days balance isn’t about a defined set of hours each week, it’s about control over your personal time.

Define your desired parameters.The traditional work hours of nine-to-five are long gone, especially for professional positions. At the same time, consider what you think is reasonable. Flex time and comp time have become prevalent in many organizations. It is up to you to determine reasonable expectations and an easy way to explain them to the person supervising you. After all, you’ve got to obtain that person’s agreement.

Approach your supervisor, but be prepared to negotiate.There has to be a meeting of the minds. You may up agreeing to one weekend per month or responding to texts and e-mails until 7PM on weekdays. There may be a season when broad access is important (think January thru April with accounting, Thanksgiving thru New Year’s with retail, and winter for ski resorts).

Be prepared to enforce the negotiated plan when “mission creep” occurs.Once you and your supervisor have settled on the parameters of access, there will still be the occasional exception. When these exceptions start to become the norm again, it’s time to re-visit the issue. But now you are working from an established agreement. Simply saying something like, “I thought we had an agreement about the parameters of weekend access,” will hopefully resolve the issue.

In these times of invasive communication and access, the sunday scaries and similar practices will continue to pervade. It’s up to us, as individuals, to define and enforce our priorities.

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