Keeping Life Sane In Spite of Technology
May 10th, 2010
Do you ever wonder how we survived before the advent of email and iPhones? Can you imagine not being able to get a hold of someone 24/7? Being constantly available is convenient for your boss, employees or clients but can seriously inconvenience your quality of life. You need down time where work is the last thing on your mind.
I recently experienced a situation where someone was constantly available made them unavailable for the person they were sitting across from. I was out having lunch with a girlfriend who took three phone calls in the course of the hour I was supposed to be spending with her. Now she is a lovely person and I am sure these were important issues to deal with but, to be honest, I ended up feeling unimportant and frustrated.
I understand that with the prevalence of technology it is sometimes hard to get away. We find ourselves going a mile a minute and trying to do a million things at once never really focusing on or enjoying what we are doing. I can’t imagine she enjoyed our lunch and I certainly didn’t.
I got to thinking as I drove away from the restaurant that we all could use some general rules to make sure we maintain our sanity and live life the way we want to even though the cell phone has become our 5th appendage.
It is imperative we carve out the time we want for ourselves and guard it. There is nothing in the cell phone contract that says you have to pick it up every time it rings. Some things can wait. Make sure you live your life on your terms. Don’t be constantly reacting to what someone else wants and when they want it.
10 Tips to Keep Sane in the Digital Age
1) Pick a certain interval throughout the day to check your blackberry or iPhone say every hour on the hour. Otherwise your day is not prioritized based on what you think is important, your time is constantly being hijacked by what someone else thinks is urgent.
2) Only check your e-mail when you have time to respond. Otherwise you’ll end up reading it twice and spend more time thinking about your answer than necessary.
3) Set up filters in your e-mail inbox that send non-important e-mails like newsletters you regularly receive to other folders. Once you’ve responded to an e-mail move it to an appropriate folder. Keep your inbox as clean as possible so you can concentrate on the most important things.
4) Try to answer phone calls within 24 hours of receiving them if possible
5) Operate in only one information stream at a time. If you are working on your laptop, turn off the TV or video, if you are in a meeting don’t text at the same time. Give your full attention to the task at hand.
6) If you are not comfortable saying something in the conference room in front of a room full of colleagues. Don’t put it in an email. E-mails are easily forwarded and may fall into the wrong hands.
7) Keep email responses relatively short. If you can’t respond in short e-mail you may just want to pick up the phone and call them. Items that require discussion will be resolved much quicker if you talk to someone in person or on the phone.
8) Vary your response time to emails. If you always answer emails the moment you receive then people begin to expect this and read something into any delay in your response.
9) Not every email requires a response. Typing an unnecessary reply wastes your time and your recipient’s time.
10) Turn your Blackberry or iPhone off when you go to bed at night and get some rest
Make sure you live your life by your rules and don’t just respond to what someone else wants of you. Make sure you get some down time to spend with yourself or with your loved ones. Being too wired and constantly available can paradoxically make us unavailable for the things that matter most.
Do you find technology has overtaken your life? What are some steps you’ve taken to stay sane?
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