We who carry mobile computing devices sometimes have the challenge of breaking our driven habit of working long hours. We might as well admit that like the compulsive gambler on the slot machine, we have trouble keeping our eyes off the glass.
You’ve made a pledge to spend more time with family. You’re at home after a long day at the office. You’ve been away from your associates, the social media data feeds, the email for a while. Now, you’re tempted to open the laptop thinking ‘I do a quick check on my email.’
Then suddenly as you look at the clock, four hours whizzed. It’s 1:00am. This lapse compounds when you realize you have several early morning back-to-back business meetings. Better get some sleep right away.
In the morning, your companion grumbles because you buried your head into your work at last night again. You’re first mitigation step is to slug down a double shot caffeine drink. You admit the morning commute was a bit edgy. You vow never to snag a quick glance at your email after hours again.
To keep going in the afternoon, your desperation remedy is to guzzle an ‘energy’ drink like Monster or Red Bull. Turns out you get a buzz, but you really don’t want to be awake at this time, because you heard rumors in the office that you dozed off during the manager’s meeting, and shot some off-hand remarks like Jim Carrey.
If this has happened to you, then my recommendations may mean something. It’s time to become aware of the pattern causing the problems, and put a fold into it.
- Make a Promise to someone that you’ll be attentive to them when you’re with them, no devices. Perhaps you can set a house rule everyone keeps eyes off glass for a place or time, like the dinner table.
- Leave the laptop in the car. Don’t bring it into the house, unless you want to sleep in the dog house or couch. If you bring it into the house, put it away in a closet or cabinet.
- Limit the times you turn it on, and make sure it’s only for a specific reason, like getting a report to your boss.
- Use a timer, set the buzzer to go off at a pre-determined time frame, and then stop.
- Change your routine in some way. Ask your friend or family what would they like you to do for them.
Pattern Break Resources
Mayo Clinic Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control
Chris Brogan Work Better, Be Brave, Tell Bigger Stories
Lucy Gower Showcase of Fundraising Innovation
With a better work life balance, you can anticipate some improvements.
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- Less fatigue
- Capture time with loved ones and friends
- Less Expectations from everyone
Be The Example
If you have younger, GenZ children, there’s still time to model a more sane way of being with them. What kind of model for them do you want to be? Will you become the master of your mobile machines? Is technology the answer to improving the work life balance challenge? Or, is it something else? Will the experts from Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page provide insights, just like Jordi from Star Trek did in the past?
I believe Google Glass will not likely help you do this. I can hear it in the future, “Grandpa, will you play catch with me, and stop scanning meta-data and curating taxonomies on your Google glasses?”
It’s too late to model proper work-life balance for those of you with Millenials or older GenZ children (those with high school or college students at home in 2013). You may have seen 1-2-3,000 text messages per month on the wireless bill. Or the internet connection at home is too slow between 4-11pm. You realize what you’ve done. They’re probably modeling you, if you’re reading this.
A Good Boss Helps
I remember one of my favorite managers at Microsoft dealt with this problem when it erupted periodically amongst his direct reports. He announced moratoriums on email storms, certainly over holiday weekends. During the email moratorium periods, anyone caught shooting an email to co-workers over the time frame got public shame and zapped with a $100 fine. It provided relief for the hard working teams, and felt good.
I’d like to Hear from You
Having work-life harmony is a continuous process because your needs from family and workplace change. It’s important to pause and review your priorities and make some changes, if required. I welcome hearing about your key moments of awareness that things got out of balance, and you deftly averted a disaster by changing your pattern.