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I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about stress and burnout lately. I’m sure you have too. All with some sort of advice on how to manage and minimize it. However, there is one consistent thread in all the articles – technology.
Technology is an important part of our personal and professional lives. There are wonderful technology tools that can help us save time and money. Technology can give us access to information we wouldn’t get otherwise. So, let’s give technology the appropriate accolades.
That being said, it doesn’t mean we need to be on technology 24/7/365 to realize it’s value.
I subscribe to The New York Times newsletter Dealbook where they recently covered the importance and challenges of stepping away from technology. What I really loved about the newsletter is that it didn’t offer the standard “take a digital detox” approach. Because let’s face it, we all can’t simply walk away from our devices. And on some level, I’d argue that we really don’t want to. We just want the ability to push it away every once in a while to focus on something or someone else.
I will freely admit that I work a lot. I love what I do. And I spend a lot of time on my technology devices. Because I like tech. But even I have a few rules that I try to follow to maintain a healthy relationship with my technology.
- Not using technology during meals. Some organizations have no tech rules for meetings. Many families will have no tech rules for meals. For the most part, I try to follow this rule but there are a few exceptions. If I’m traveling and alone, then I might have my phone out. Or if Mr. Bartender and I are playing “name that song” with the music in a restaurant, then I have my phone out. But when we’re at home, my phone is in another room. Designating times when technology is off limits can be helpful.
- Blocking off “Me Time” on the calendar. I live by my calendar. That doesn’t mean I never move or change things – I do that all the time. But when I put something on my calendar, it gets done. So being open to scheduling time to do whatever I want was a new concept. But once I started it, it became very easy to do. It sounds weird, but I schedule blocks of time to step away from my desk.
- Using technology for fun. Prior to the pandemic, I was able to read, watch a movie, play games, or listen to music when I traveled. Mr. Bartender was able to do those same things when I was gone. Being at home together has been great – I couldn’t ask for a better person to spend a pandemic with – but we also had to find time to do those things we used to do when we were apart.
How does this apply to work? Well, if we want our employees to be productive then we need to help them build a healthy relationship with the technology they use every day. We need to model good technology habits and show our colleagues that it’s okay to step away from our devices. And that we can use our tech for fun and for work.
Technology isn’t going away. I don’t believe the answer is to let employees – at any level of the organization – get so frustrated with their technology that they are stressed by it. Organizations need to set expectations and actually follow them. That way, employees get all the benefits of technology with a minimal amount of frustration and stress.
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