(The Humanitarian Social Network)
So I think I may have an issue that may not be unique in substance.
I have to skype with the home office, at 11pm (and in some cases 2-4am), I have to be awake to deal with the org on the ground here during the day. The maid - I live in the office - comes at 8am. I could limit my evening time, but I know that I am directly reachable with high frequency makes things get done in a way that keeps the home office happy -- and I don't wake up to a zillion panicked emails.
What have y'all done to mitigate this, or get some sleep? Find some regularity? Get a life without setting myself on a path to an AA meeting? (I do like my work, and I am hardwired as an over achiever -- but you know, the logframe is a little sleepy and unsustainable.)
Your situation sounds very familiar. There are ways out or around, but a great deal depends on the corporate culture of your organization, personality of whomever is requiring you to be on these convos (and the tenor of your personal and professional relationship with those people), and the actual substance of what you're discussing at 11pm, your time. Vague enough? :)
In general, though, I simply make a habit of pushing back unless the issue is truly time-sensitive and/or there are real benefit to having a live conversation rather than an email exchange. In my experience, the vast majority of what NGO senior managers think is "urgent", isn't (starting up big disaster responses, managing multiple consortium partners in a big grant, etc. would be exceptions). It's okay to point that out and say that you'll be sleeping at the time of the skype call, but happy to send your thoughts on the agenda points ahead of time.
In my professional past, those who've most consistently demanded late-light conference calls or skypes usually turned out to be those who, for whatever reason, felt they weren't getting enough/good enough quality information from wherever I happened to be based. If you can find ways to address that need, you can usually make the demands on your evening time go down, if not disappear all together.
To their credit, they do tell me to go to bed. I think I just know (perhaps incorrectly) that I will be able to manage better if I give them info right now...So its probably more of a "do it to myself" issue... -- And they will have slightly earlier meetings to catch me at a (more) reasonable time. As for the 4am conversations, those are more likely the less flexible interns whom I am sheperding... difficult, annoying, but I can't do anything about that.
I think its mostly because I'm the only native english speaker here, so its my job to do everything required writing -- write all day and do day to day management stuff -- then do the correspondence stuff at night. I am also, the defacto king of the hill -- super tiny little hill -- So I may just have to manage that "startup company" energy where there is no-one to delegate to.
Or maybe I just don't get weekends. And they do, and I'm jealous. (Have great weekend!) :-P
Aid organisations will typically take everything you have and ask for more... it is a skill to know your limits and say no. (And yeah sometimes saying no to yourself can be the hardest part.) Extremely long days and extremely high effectiveness don't go together for long.
If you're finding yourself regularly on skype calls at 2-4am, you and your folks back at HQ have plenty of room to find better ways of working and communicating.
* Reiterate J's comment - if its just information they're after, look at the content of sitreps or other regular reporting you're doing with them - they may not be fit for purpose. Or not being read...!
* If there's HQ meetings/decisions going on, brief someone in HQ at a more appropriate hour, or by email, to fully represent you. Give them your decision parameters and red lines.
* Liking the work or no, overachiever or no, if you aren't getting enough rest you'll burn out, simple, just a matter of how long. (And personally, how crabby I get with people in the meantime..)
On a short term deployment you can pace yourself for that and know what level of crazy hours you can do and for how many weeks, but it doesn't sound like you're in a short term position.