Technology has never made doing business more convenient than in today’s corporate world. However, that convenience is exacting a toll emotionally and physically on our employees. Without question, this issue is undermining a healthy work-life balance. A recent study from the American Institute of Stress, found that 54% of employees are experiencing high levels of stress. Consider the impact on employee’s health and the cost of diminished productivity.
One advantage of modern technology is that it allows us to give immediate and timely responses. Another advantage is it allows us the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. Paradoxically, it also means we are always connected and accessible to our work. The answer to this problem is establishing healthy boundaries so you can unplug and disconnect, while prioritizing your life outside of work.
1. Eliminate the distractions…
When we are at work or at home with family, we should be fully present. That requires us to be disciplined with our technology. A recent study has shown that millennials check their phones 157 times per day. This doesn’t mean that distractions are unique to the millennial generation, but is there any wonder why 36% of workers are highly disengaged costing companies $350 billion in lost production annually?
We have to get comfortable with turning off our technology. When we are fully engaged on a project at work and then become distracted, it takes 23 minutes to get reengaged at the same level as before. So eliminate the temptation! Don’t our families deserve our full attention when we are home? How many times have you been out to dinner and noticed a family of four all on their phones? Perhaps this is you! We are losing the art of communication. The problem is, we have been conditioned to the “ding” and just like Pavlov’s dog, our technology controls us.
2. Not everything is an emergency….
Just because our phone rings or a notification shows up on our computer indicating we have a new email, doesn’t mean we need to respond immediately. Fortunately, emergencies rarely happen, but when they do, I can assure that you will know. Schedule times throughout the day to respond to emails, texts and voicemails. If your work allows you to be on your phone, do this no more than three times per day. You will experience a sense of freedom as well as less stress. It reminds me when we took our daughter to Europe we did not have cell service. At the end of the vacation she indicated how much she enjoyed being disconnected and how she felt free. Remember it is only the last twenty years that our lives have been so dominated by technology.
3. Find a hobby…
Finding more work-life balance is also about reconnecting with things we are passionate about. Try replacing technology with a hobby. When we are enjoying any variety of activities, we naturally disconnect. You could join a volleyball team, a cycling club, go to yoga classes, go hiking or donate time to an animal shelter. The options are endless.
We need to put technology in its place. It is without a doubt a positive thing when used in certain ways and when we don’t allow it to control our lives. Reengage in the world around you. Become aware of your surroundings. Be committed to being a great communicator. Get reconnected to your passions and enjoy life once again.
Life is about balance and living in the moment, both at work and in life.