In the past ten years technology has radically changed the way we do business. We have the ability to do so many things faster and more efficient. But with any great achievement there is often sometimes a negative aspect. So, what is the negative aspect of all the great tech advancements over the last ten years? It is the Culture of always being on. With email on our phone, texting, and social media anyone can get ahold of you anytime, as long as your phone is near. This has created an expectation. That expectation is that people should always be available. This is a problem.
If you are always available when do you unwind? When do you focus on your family? When do you read a book? If your phone is near you pinging away how could you ever focus on any task from more then 5 minutes?
This is a question I am asking myself more and more each day. I am one of the worst offenders of the “always on” culture. Let me rephrase that, I was one of the worst offenders. I would answer my phone no matter what time someone called and answer text messages within 2 min of them coming in. On vacation? What is that? I always had my phone. On a plane? No worries I have wifi, we can still email. Having dinner with my family? Don’t worry, they don’t mind. What did this lead to?
More text messages, phone calls and emails and a consistent expectation that I would respond immediately. It literally got to the point where I did not respond to a text at 10pm in 15 min and someone asked if I was ok. They thought I had been abducted as that was the only time, they could imagine I would not respond fast. That was the expectation I had set. I had set the expectation that I was always available and that someone would have to physically kidnap me for me not to respond. That is so wrong in so many ways. My Realtor partners described me as a “Beast”, “workhorse” “machine.” Here is the thing. I can still accomplish as much and even more if I have time to unwind, rest, enjoy my life. There are multiple studies that have been done showing the culture of always being on is making us less effective and more stressed and anxious. Down time is critical. There are actually laws that have been passed in other countries giving workers the right to disconnect. This is a global issue. To ignore it and think that anyone with boundaries is lazy is a fool’s mistake. The research is there. You need to disconnect.
If you are “always on” and always available ask yourself why. Seriously, why? Is what people are calling you about at 9pm so urgent that you have to talk to them at 9pm? Do you really need to take an unscheduled client call at 6 am from your bed? Does your husband or wife need to patiently wait as you respond to an email? That family vacation was it really just, so your computer had a different view? If you were told tomorrow, you only had two weeks to live would you work and respond 24/7? Or would you spend time with your loved ones or doing things you are interested in? It is time to reclaim your life.
I thought when I started to establish boundaries, I would lose a lot of business. In reality, I only lost the most demanding people in my life. Losing them gave me the ability to grow new business partnerships with likeminded people. I am still working on boundaries and resisting the urge to answer the phone at 6am because even though I have changed the world has not. If you are calling people at all hours of the day and night and emailing around the clock realize that you are putting a burden on another’s person’s life. You are saying your needs are more important then them being able to have a life. Take 5 min, be self-aware and stop. If you are always responding 24/7 give yourself permission to have a life. You deserve to have a life.