Just because we can, should we? Be connected to our work 24/7, that is?
The advances in digital technology have been truly amazing – enabling us to be connected, well, constantly. With our ability to check email at 2am, receive phone calls while traveling wherever we are, and hold real time video meetings with clients halfway across the globe, the velocity of progress has grown exponentially. And our ability to determine our engagement levels becomes more challenging.
The big challenge for us is that there is enough work, information and business “stuff” to occupy our every waking minute. So, to survive, we know we need to turn it off. And do it in the most efficient, effective way, so that we can truly enjoy the work/life balance that fuels our happiness.
We have the capability to be connected all the time. Not healthy. We need breaks. The problem is, we have more and more difficulty “finding” those breaks. Just like it is near impossible to “find” time today, we need to “make” time, and we need to orchestrate the breaks that will fuel our productivity. We need to “make our breaks” so to speak.
Break from the lasso that your cell phone has on you. Break from the incessant dings of a newly received email. Break from the guilt that you are not “on” 24/7.
The important point here is that disconnecting totally should be your strategy. Stop trying to do two (or three) things at once. Think of it as “switch-tasking” rather than multitasking. When you switch-task, you go from giving one task your full focus and 100% to doing the same with the next task, rather than trying to do both at once, giving each 50%.
Now, just how and when? Here are some tips:
Take control. Remember, we are the thinking ones here. We can decide that we can turn off the electronica. IT does not control us – it is the other way. So that allows us to choose our focus.
Just turn it off. Actually, the “how” is pretty simple. Shut the computer down. Turn the smartphone off. Silence the alerts. Just turn it (or should we say “them”?) off!
To keep two activities “open” essentially serves each only partial attention. If you’ve conversed with someone who was checking his or her Smartphone at the same time, you know what I mean. They weren’t all there. Recognize that it can be stressful to try to serve two masters at the same time; you can feel like you’re robbing one or cheating the other. Choose the most important one and give it 100%. This applies for the mix between personal and work time as well.
So, when you decide your workday is over, let it be over. That chapter of the day is done. Kaput. Believe that it was a job well done and let it go. Transition to a new activity, a new engagement, a new thought pattern. If you can envision leaving one thing and going to another, it will help you transition. There will be time tomorrow for what you finished today.
Engage activities in time chunks. Chunk it up. Separate your focus. Allow yourself to enjoy “doing nothing”. Allow yourself to read a book. Allow yourself some 100% focused “me time”. And allow yourself to enjoy these breaks. All without guilt.
Breaking from one task to another is healthy. Shutting down your workday so that you and your spouse can have a truly enjoyable dinner can be energizing and fulfilling. Turning the blackberry off as you walk in the door signals to you that it is play time with those anxiously awaiting kids. As you adopt this understanding it will allow you to break free.
When you work – work. When you rest – rest. When you play – play. Be 100% awesome for each activity. Chunk it up, and watch your results, energy and satisfaction soar!