I heard an alarming statistic last week – all the new devices now available (mobile phones, apps, tablets, etc.) have added an average of two hours to the work day. I am troubled by this and suggest this week you should be too. To be clear, I appreciate the ebb and flow of any organization and the times when an “all hands of deck” approach is needed, requiring folks to work harder and longer than usual. This aspect is not what troubles me.
Work is inherently a stressful environment for most people. There are bosses, customers, peers, and deliverables due constantly and embedded in all of these dimensions are the complex set of human dynamics and relationships that are, quite frankly, exhausting to manage. The workplace is not a place where you can just directly tell everyone what you think and there are very few, if any, places or times during the actual work day where you can decompress, feel free, and just be.
To then add two more hours to eight plus hours each day is piling on exponentially–not just incrementally–to stress. I actually see it all the time now. Parents on their iPads while kids are playing soccer or checking emails mobile phones during dinner. The reason it is exponential is whereas work has always been stressful, technology has now taken work out of the work place and into the home place – a place usually reserved for refueling the emotional tanks with necessary experiences of love, joy, freedom, laughter, etc. It’s double jeopardy.
We are approaching both year end and a holiday season. I urge you to actively pay attention to the impact mobile devices are having on you and those that you care about the most. Holiday seasons are fantastic, only if you are actually present. You need this time to truly recharge. Family and friends refuel us all in a way nothing can. Tell your boss, peers, customers, and direct reports that this holiday season, the best gift to give is quality time. Design this week so that there are no fires to put out next week and establish a team consensus on when to write an email, call, or use the “reply all” button.