Technology: Love it or Hate it When It Comes To Work

This morning, I woke up really early (ugh 3:30am), and after tossing and turning around for awhile, I finally decided to get up to face the day… my mind kept racing as I was lying there thinking about what I COULD be getting accomplished as a head start on the day’s activities.

So, I got up, went into the computer room, flipped the on-switch, and started perusing my emails.

I like to call this early morning work my ‘stealth’ mode… which is when you can operate pretty efficiently by sending replies and projects out, and most sane people (unlike myself) are still asleep and won’t respond for a few hours. It is free and easy sailing during these wee hours of the morning, and an opportunity to get a mountain of work done before the next round of inquiries and requests arrive in my in-box.

This stealth mode works great, unless the person you are emailing lives on the East Coast. Which is 3 hours ahead of here in Oregon.

So I replied to an industry partner’s request for slides for a presentation that I am doing tomorrow, and BAM!  Just like that, my phone was ringing.  It was barely 6am, and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.  But to him, it was 9am his time and the day was already in full swing.

((Full disclosure: No one, including my husband unit, wants to deal with me until I have a caffeine infusion- I tend to be a little on the ‘cranky’ side of mornings sometimes… especially when I didn’t sleep well.))

So after I got this call, I emailed the person back apologizing for not taking their call, and just indicated that I was not available until 8am.

But this whole situation got me thinking… many folks are practically tethered to their smart phones or devices… and that leaves a lot of wiggle room now for business activities to sneak into our personal time. If we let them. I think that’s what got under my skin from this morning’s incident.  I felt as though I was on my own time but it suddenly didn’t seem that way.

Fundamentally, something is happening to us.  While productivity and client service rates on the rise, what about the mental ‘break’ we need from work that we absolutely need to recharge our batteries?

The danger of being more accessible these days through technology means that it means exactly that: if you respond, people are going to assume that you are immediately accessible.  Which in, turn, can mean more work, and so the intrusion into our personal lives grows.

It is up to us to determine where the boundary exists… and the expectations that go with those boundaries.  If we allow people to push into our personal time, they will take the opportunity and run with it. But if we hold to our own boundaries, and push back (nicely), we don’t allow false expectations or a sense of entitlement start growing.

Each of us is the captain of our ship, and we need to make the decisions that rule how that ship will operate.  Deviation off course can lead to interesting side trips, but also can mean getting lost at sea.  We need to be firm on how accessible we are… otherwise, it is easy to allow ourselves to be trapped in waters closing over our head and no opportunity for personal time.

I definitely learned a lesson today.  What are you doing to draw a line between your work and personal life?



One Comment

Julie Walraven

Allowing yourself not to pick up the phone if you don't want is always a good idea. I am more tethered than many people and for the most part, I like it that way. But I get what you are saying. I started customizing my phone message with the day and a brief message of what is going on so people feel they reached a real person but then I don't answer the phone if I am working with a client here or on Skype. I used to pick up at least to say I was busy so I wouldn't miss a potential client but that wasn't working or fair to the client I was working with. So sometimes it is ok not to respond immediately… especially if you haven't had your coffee! 🙂

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