Blackberry should free you not chain you!
I just caught the CBC Sunday Night news. They did a story on how people have huge issues with blackberries and get addicted to checking it, at the expense of valuable family time.
This to me, seems absurd. Supposedly, the reason for this increased mobility and is to provide the freedom for people to achieve their own level of balance. To make the system work for you instead of the other way around. Unfortunately, I feel that many people who were not used to being connected all the time developed some bad habits that formed precedents that were hard to break.
I personally find my blackberry liberating. It allows me to go about my day and not worry about being out of touch. When I’m not working from home, I’m running all over the city running some errand or another. I do have some specific rules about using it though, and lessons I’ve learned the hard way. As a technology coach, I like helping people simplify their lives, and regain control of Smartphones that have gone rogue. There is nothing worse feeling overwhelmed under the barrage of never ending emails. There is a way to free yourselves! Blackberries can (and should) be your gateway to a more flexible, relaxed life!
1) Change profiles accordingly. We all like the beep or buzz that notifies us of a new message. However, once your working day is over, change your profile to “phone only.” This will prevent you from rushing to check your phone every time it buzzes. If there is an emergency, trust me, someone will get a hold of you. Most Blackberries offer the option of automatic switching, your phone will switch from vibrate to “phone only” on it’s own.
2) Take time answering emails. Many people feel that the second they read an email they HAVE to answer it right away. This just isn’t so. While I believe that one should always reply to emails in a timely manner, it doesn’t necessarily have to be instantly. If you get an email after 6pm and you’re busy preparing dinner or hanging out with your family, it’s ok to wait a few hours or even (gasp) until the next morning to reply.
3) Take some space. Once you’re at home, there’s no need to take your Smartphone into the bedroom, dining room or bathroom! If there is one thing I have learned it’s to be present in the moment. We have this fear by disconnecting we risk seeming redundant. That if we don’t reply instantly, we will not be asked for our opinion again. That’s just plain silly. You owe it to yourself and to your family to be fully present during your down time. There is a time and place for being connected.
4) Leave it out of meetings! I can’t stress this one enough. Unless you are the president of the United States, I’m pretty sure that you can be disconnected for a one hour meeting without the world falling apart. I can’t tell you how frustrating it to be in a meeting and to see people glancing down at their screens or typing away on the keyboard. I find it disrespectful. Give your full attention to the person who is holding the meeting (even if they are junior) and leave your phone outside.
5) Re-Evaluate your Smartphone. This is a hard one, I know, but an important point that is worth mentioning. I once worked at a job where all junior people had Blackberries. I very quickly developed the bad habit of responding to emails sent over the weekends and late at night. Eventually, it dawned on me that I just wasn’t that important. For my job designation there was really no need for me to be completely accessible during off hours. I wasn’t needed to make split second decisions, to answer desperate clients or put out fires. As I watch the Blackberry obsession continue, I realize that there are very few people who really NEED to be connected all the time. The rest of us just like knowing what’s going on.
I often get a lot of resistance with that last point, but as a former crackberry addict I offer this: what price are you paying for connectivity? If you’re at work for 8 hours a day, are you going to spend the few hours you’re at home electronically chained to emails and office chatter? I mean aren’t we all working so hard so we can spend time with family and friends? Enjoy life? Travel? Remember your endgame: the reason you show up to work every morning. That dream you have or the goal you’d like to achieve.
If you’d like some help simplifying your Smartphone burdens, you can contact me here.