What happens with your work smartphone, tablet, or laptop when you get home? Do you turn it off? What about when you're on vacation?
According to a recent Microsoft survey, 47 per cent of us have worked while on vacation. Another survey found that 54 per cent of people have bosses that actually expect them to work during vacation. Not fun. What's more, the trend in mobile tech, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD), is making the disconnect between work and personal life even more difficult. Many employees prefer BYOD because of the familiarity and perceived efficiency of working with their own equipment. However, there is a risk working too many hours and suffering from burnout.
Some employers have started taking notice of this and are exploring ways to ensure their employees get a chance to enjoy their off-work time. But what can you do today to make sure mobile technology does not impinge upon the rest of your life? Consider these six strategies:
1. During your workday, scan and prioritize your e-mails as they come in. That's not to say that you have to read them in full or address them immediately. Just take a few quick seconds to separate the messages into things you have to take care of from the things that you can safely ignore. That way, things won't pile up.
2. Do your best to address your high-priority, more complex e-mails on your desktop and laptop. As powerful and useful as modern smartphones may be, it is still three times faster to draft messages with a full-size computer keyboard than to thumbtype. The smartphone is obviously fine for short messages and is wonderful for firing off urgent responses when you're nowhere near your desk. But when you have the option of waiting till you get back to your main computer, do it.
3. Set aside time near the end of a work day to reply to e-mails that can't wait until the next day. That way, you won't stress over them when you've left for the day.
4. Determine a drop-dead time after which you won't be checking any e-mails; make sure your colleagues are aware of this personal limit. Even more importantly, make sure that you are aware of this limit.
5. Go to a gym or take a class right after work. It'll be easier to stop working and preserve the sanctity of off work hours if your mind is occupied with something else, especially if you do so with an activity that enriches your spirit and/or strengthens your body.
6. Start tracking how often after-work e-mails are actually urgent. Turn that into percentages and look at the big picture. Most people tend to see that 'urgent' is not actually that 'urgent.'
Wireless technology benefits everyone: Employers, employees, and clients. But, being constantly available is often a disadvantage. We are not machines. Set parameters for yourself and your team; you will see real productivity gains over time.
Chris Thierry is the president of Etelesolv, a provider of telecom and IT expense management software.