You know the big thing now is the integration of your work life and personal life largely due to technology. Those of us who live our life with cell phones, tablets, chrome books, and notebook computers find ourselves connected to work much of the time. We are tethered to our devices like they are some sort of appendage, a third arm if you will. This technology allows us to work outside of the office, at our homes, on the golf course, and even when we are supposed to be on vacation.
I have been guilty of wondering where my cell phone is, so that I can be informed about what is going on. You know that sense of panic feels like when you can’t find your cell phone. I’ve even felt guilty when I failed to acknowledge someone’s birthday on Facebook, when prior to Facebook I would not have had any idea when their birthday was and probably not cared anyway. Observing other people they seem more intent on looking at their cell phone than interacting with people in person, and yes I am guilty of the same thing. So if we can acknowledge that technology has changed the way we work and the way we interact with each other, then what can we expect if we don’t recognize this shift in our world?
- Not Really Listening – meetings where instead of listening, our co-workers are looking at their cell phone or laptop. How can we hope to make good decisions and be productive if we are staring at our cell phone instead of paying attention to who is speaking.
- Social Media Relationships – instead of face to face relationships we now have friends on Facebook and Google Plus. We have followers on LinkedIn, Pinterest, and maybe our own blogs. I’m not saying this is a bad thing because these tools are a great way to keep up with what other people are doing, learn new things, and an avenue for expressing ourselves just like I am doing now. The problem is when the social media relationships are a substitute for more personal ways of communicating.
- Multitasking – instead of focus we are unfocused, distracted by our notifications and not concentrating on the task at hand. This isn’t even funny, as we are wasting time checking our email accounts, scanning LinkedIn, looking at Facebook, and generally not getting our work done. Multiply this by the millions of workers in our country and you have a bunch of payroll dollars being wasted. Every time you take your focus off a task you end up needing to get yourself re-focused on what you were doing, and this is a colossal waste of time.
Here are a few ways to unplug yourself:
- Lose your cell phone – I don’t mean really lose it, but put your cell phone in your bedroom or office, and set it to vibrate, or if you are really bold turn it off.
- When you go to a meeting leave your cell phone at your desk, don’t take it with you to the conference room or wherever you are meeting. It is rude to be looking at your phone or reading emails on your laptop during a meeting.
- When you go on vacation, don’t take your laptop or tablet, and leave your cell phone in the room. Tell people to call the hotel/resort if they there is an emergency.
- Only look at social media sites when you are on break.
- Stop checking your email every 15 minutes. If someone sends you an email they can wait for a response; tell them to call you if it is urgent.
- When you are with your family or friends put your phone away, or at least in your pocket or purse.
If you can’t do at least half of the things I mentioned above then you will forever be controlled by technology, and while you may consider yourself productive you are fooling no one. I would love to hear how you unplug?