I was having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine. She was complaining because the person she works for had one of her other friends send a text message to her while she was out of town about a work issue. It irked her because she said she’d told everyone she was going out of town for something special, and here she was being disturbed.

Sarah laboring under the misconception that partially obscuring her face will slow down my picture taking... seriously, how long has she known me?
colorblindPICASO via Compfight

I asked her why she gave her cell phone number out to these people anyway and she said it was a way they’d determined to communicate with each other during the work week if they couldn’t see each other face to face. She said she normally didn’t have a problem with it except this particular weekend, and she thought the guy was being particularly obstinate because he’s someone she really would rather not deal with.

I’m a bit particular as an independent consultant. I rarely give my cell phone number to anyone. But if I do, I don’t feel compelled to answer it if I see someone calling that I’m not expecting to call. I use it for both business and pleasure, but it doesn’t mean that I want to be that accessible all the time.

I know another consultant who says his unique selling proposition is that no matter where in the world he is, and no matter where in the world his client is, he will get back to that person within 3 hours if he can’t immediately answer the phone. For me, that would mean I might never sleep; that’s just not going to work.

There’s a reason I have two landlines coming to my home. One is my personal line; the other is my business line. Both can take messages, and that works great for me. In the house (my office is in my home), my cell phone gets terrible reception. Sending text messages is easy enough, but it’s hard to hear anyone who calls me on that phone while I’m in the house. Voice mail works well in the house, though, and I can call either phone line to check messages if I’m not home.

Most of the time I do get back to people within a few hours, but that’s not the point. The point is that we all have the right to control our accessibility. If you’re willing to give your 8 or 10 hours a day to someone else’s issues, you deserve the rest of the time to take care of yourself. Sure, there might be some professions that have you on call more often than that. But your first obligation is always to yourself, no matter what.