It's no secret that technology has improved our working lives tenfold – we've got a world of information at our fingertips, and instant access to it. We have the power to share our visions and our goals and our lives at the touch of a button. But with great power comes great responsibility.
Drawbacks of Technology Overuse
One of the great things about smart phones is that when we have a question it's a Google search, a tweet, or a text message away. If we need to check our email or see if we've received a package we've been waiting for, it's right there on our phone. We expect things to happen instantly because we're used to it being that way, so when we do have to wait for answers, our patience wears thin incredibly quickly (though probably not as quickly as our significant others' as we check our phones just one more time at dinner).
As freelancers and entrepreneurs, our wealth can sometimes directly be tied to our tech. Miss a big phone call or take too long to respond to an email and some people see that as dollar signs flying out the window. But does an after hours email really need to be answered right then, or can it wait until the morning? When you don't have limits on your own tech use, you allow yourself to miss out on the now – life is not being experienced if you're spending it constantly worrying about your phone. On another side you should consider some tried and true time management techniques to make sure you don’t waste time with unproductive activities during work hours.
Getting so wrapped up in your laptops and tablets and smart phones can make you forget to take time to enjoy this life you've worked so hard for. Some things are worth more than money.
The best thing you can do for your own mental health and your family's sanity is to set boundaries for your tech use. There will of course be times when you need to be at the phone for special circumstances, but those times should be an anomaly, not the norm. When you wake up in the morning, give yourself time to eat breakfast, have coffee, work out – whatever it is that your morning ritual consists of, do it without answering any emails. The work will still be there in an hour. Doing it will probably prevent you from becoming a workaholic too!
During work hours, that's your time to be laser-focused, but be sure to take breaks and rest your eyes from screens for at least 15 minutes twice a day. When your work day wraps up, that means your screen time should also wrap up.
Set limitations with your employees/employers up front. Give your available work hours, and adhere to those. When the work day is done, let it be done until the next day. Using an online task management tool to easily keep track of your activities helps staying organized and allows you to avoid wasting valuable time.
My husband, a small business owner, used to work like a maniac – we'd go on vacation and he'd be on his laptop any time we were in the hotel room. He'd take phone calls while we were ‘enjoying' the beach. It wasn't much of a vacation for either of us. Something had to give, so we decided that although it was impossible to be completely away from his business, he'd handle whatever was needed in the morning before we left for the day, and not again until the following morning.
Set yourself up for success. Let your clients know you'll be out of town and unreachable. Have a system in place when you leave so that someone else can handle any emergencies that arise. And if it's not an emergency, then I guess it can wait until you get back from vacation! Leave your laptop in your hotel room so you won't be tempted to hop on it while you're out.
If you don't have the time or the money to take an actual vacation, try taking a “staycation” – relaxing at home with no technology at all. Turn your phone off for two days, and see how you feel when you're no longer reaching for it. You'll have a clearer mind, you'll be more present in your conversations. You'll be surprised at the creative ideas that will come to you when you have time to just sit in silence and think.
Your New (Old) Normal
Putting your disconnection from technology into practice will be an adjustment, but you'll get used to it and the stress it will alleviate will be worth it. You'll remember that there was a time not so long ago when no one had a smart phone, and we all got along just fine.
Nuvro is a robust online project management tool that helps remote workers make their life easier by easily keeping track of their activities and saving time. With Nuvro you can gain control and peace of mind over all of your projects, tasks, team members, workload and everything else important to your company. In addition to the project, task and collaboration features found in most PM tools, Nuvro also provides a company dashboard, a team dashboard, team member performance reviews, secure document management, an internal alternative to email and more. Nuvro is perfect for busy teams looking to accomplish more. Learn More…