In the current world we live in with cell phones, watches, and tablets we are all constantly connected. They enable us all to interact in new and wonderful ways. They also have led us to a point where many expect instant gratification when we send an email or message and make a call. All of this can lead to poor work life balance. Add in the addition of a pandemic which many worked from home and their business hours have run into their home hours and vice versa. Many of us have been left with no balance in our lives.
I'm sure we all have had those day where we have spent 8 or more hours in our office or behind the computer only to wonder "what did I do all day," "did I even get anything done?"
Have you ever spent the day just answering emails all day? Responding to slack and team messages, phone calls? Going back and forth between all the different messages, texts, emails and calls trying to get back to everyone quickly. Looking between the computer, the cell, the watch, etc. to see what to answer next. For some anxiety and stress rising trying to just manage these things. Is anyone’s time really being used efficiently if it is being spent this way? If even one day out of your week is spent trying to respond to everyone right away. So the question becomes how do we balance the technology we have and manage our time wisely.
Is instant gratification really a good and necessary thing?
In most instances the question at the other end of the line can wait an hour or two (at least) for your response. It is not necessary for you to be on call and to instantly respond to everything. If you take a step back and look at what really needs to be answered immediately you will probably find very few things that are truly emergencies or need urgent attention.
To better manage a these communications, set up a schedule for answering them. A timeframe that works for many is looking at emails, texts, etc. in the morning, at lunch and late afternoon. Take the time during each of those to go through what you have prioritize/reply and review. This allows you to really put time and care into each response rather than quickly ticking off the boxes. After your set amount of "email/message" time is up then dare I say snooze the notifications until you are ready to go back again. Without the notifications on, you will be able to focus on the work at hand, no more glancing at the watch or phone with every pop up.
As your work day becomes more manageable the stress and anxiety that were surrounding it can be reduced. In turn you are no longer worried about what you are leaving behind on your desk. If you are working from home you are not staying behind the computer longer but getting the work accomplished and "leaving work" at the end of the day and the end of the week. You can then happily take time away from the office with family and friends, which also helps reduce stress and can also make you more productive while there.
This in turn gives you a better work life balance that we are all striving for.
Many of us do not think things as simple as an email or a slack message seep into our home life. But if we step back, turn off the notifications for just a day, maybe more of us will notice how much they do. How much overlap is there in your life? Are we expecting instant gratification from others? Who expects it too often of us? Do you have a work life balance?