Can we achieve a decent work-life balance in today’s world?
Last week, Business Week published an article featuring a number of high profile executives who do not use email (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-16/mlb-s-bud-selig-proudly-joins-the-executive-no-email-crowd ). Yes, you read that correctly. They do not use email. Now I can understand if they don’t use social media tools such as Twitter or Facebook – but email?
These old-school communicators include among others: Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig; secretary of the Department for Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano; and billionaire landowner Brad Kelley. They are all successful in their own right. And they have achieved that success with only the use of “old-fashioned” means of communication and most likely, a healthier set of boundaries when it comes to work spilling over into their lives.
Now granted, most of the individuals named in the article are in in their late 60s or 70s. However, Napolitano is only 55, certainly an age where she could have adapted well to using email. She claims checking email sucks up too much time (We all know how true that is, especially when you’re helplessly on an email thread that won’t stop). While she may be right, it’s certainly not practical or feasible for “the rest of us” to scrap email altogether as a means of communication.
This got me to thinking: all of these modern means of communicating at our fingertips – especially the burst of social media tools available – were invented to help us do so more efficiently and more quickly both personally and professionally. Yet, in the end, are they doing the opposite and just bogging us down to create more stress, work and interruptions, and to sabotage any chance we have of a healthy work-life balance?
As Napolitano and Selig did, is there a time when the current generations can begin to say “no” to any or all of our modern channels of communication, or have we forever passed that threshold?
Before cell phones (yes, there was a day), I used to love driving in my car because it was the only place where no one could get a hold of me. There was something to be said for that peaceful and uninterrupted respite where one could focus on the day’s matters at hand with more clarity and without interruption.
Most Millennials have never had that experience and I’m actually not sure they truly ever want to be ‘off-line’ from the world. In fact, it seems as if it’s quite the opposite that is true – they feel naked without their smartphone and access of being connected to the outside world. Their angst is certainly palpable when they are in meetings or other places where they cannot check their text messages, Tweets and emails.
I’ve occasionally had that feeling myself and to be honest, I don’t’ like it. Sometimes I have to literally take a step back and realize that my world and work will actually be just fine without monitoring my emails and social channels every 15 minutes. So why do I feel guilty when I’m offline?
I get it, in the fields of public relations and marketing, we need to be connected to our devices and to our clients and their customers as well as the media and outside world. And, we have to test every new social media communications tool in order to best counsel our clients. The challenge is there is a new tool emerging every day and it’s not only social media managers that need to understand and test these tools. It’s PR folks too. As a PR practitioner, stress is a normal part of the job; it’s just that this modern era of social media seems to be creating more stress and not taking as much away.
I just want to know if anyone else is struggling with when to draw the line at being continuously accessible and connected (and I mean beyond being reachable when a client might have a real emergency situation that needs immediate damage control).
Do you feel guilty or stressed when you’re not emailing, tweeting or trolling on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Pinterest?
How do you manage to detach from work mode to personal mode?
Any tips or insights are much appreciated!