Technology: Friend or Foe in Work/Life Balance?
Todd Wheeler, Concierge Resource
September 24, 2008
Technology has given us many conveniences in this modern era. With our Blackberry, laptop, cell phone, and pager, we are better connected to information and people than ever before. Our staff, colleagues, family and long lost friends can reach us instantly and we are never more than a heartbeat away from the information we need. The Internet gives us 24/7 access to shopping, information, feedback, data and business tools across different time zones, cultures, languages and quality levels. Today we are a society of things that are “instant,” “fast,” “microwavable” and “hyper-efficient”… Then how come it feels like we are always exhausted, and our “to-do” list never ends?
The reality is, with every technological advance created to make life simpler, many of us have found a way to overcomplicate things. For instance, take the idea of the PDA (personal digital assistant, such as Blackberry). The ideas sounds good – put all of your personal information on a handheld device that tracks your schedule, address book, task lists, budget and privacy codes. Then, when you need to pay an online bill, plan a party or schedule a dentist appointment, you have what you need at your fingertips. Right? That is, if you can find what you need, have the time to work out the schedule, can manage the last minute changes, and your battery doesn’t fail.
Technology alone is not the solution. In order to fully utilize the benefits of technological advancements in helping us balance work and personal life, we have to make the technology fit our lives, rather than fit our lives into the technology.
When we bought cell phones, we did so with the reassurance that our business associates, colleagues, patients and staff could reach us when they needed us right away. For medical professionals, quick communication could mean the difference between life and death.
What we didn’t watch were the boundaries we placed on the use of that cell phone. Now, in addition to everyone at work reaching you by cell phone or text messaging so can your teenage son (“What’s for dinner?”), your mother (“Don’t forget to send Dad a card”), your drycleaner (“Your clothes are ready to be picked up”) and so on. We gave our cell phone number out to everyone – and everyone’s calling. Without setting boundaries on how, when, where and why to reach us, this vital communication tool has become a constant source of interruption. Our thoughts, activities, relaxation and balance are thrown off.
Another example is the use of the Internet. Have you ever noticed that hopping online to find one thing usually has you shopping for many other things you never even knew you needed? It’s like the ideal shopping mall in that if you like X, they are happy to show you W, Y, and Z, which you will also surely need! Finding valuable information, such as phone numbers, driving directions, data and forecasts is important. Stopping at just that is nearly impossible. Marketers are trained to take your attention away from what you started looking for, and bring you along to many other delightful choices to peruse.