4 Brilliant Work-Life Balance Tips - The Problem Phone!
Is it helpful or a silent weapon?
Are smartphones helpful for work-life balance?
I'll admit, I've learned the hard way to create a work-life balance. I'm probably on my phone much more than I should be! The ease of instantly finding an answer to my question, finding directions, or ordering food. Smartphones have positively benefited our lives as a whole.
We've also seen the negative psychological effects of social media on people. This is from the ability to selectively portray a fantasy life with exotic travel destinations, beautiful families, and picture-perfect homes. The omission of daily life stressors creates an unrealistic image that viewers envy.
Outside of the negatives, technology with smartphones has made it possible to speak with and even see people from across the world at no additional cost. We can easily reach people regardless of their location because of this pocket-sized computer.
Always available for work
The usual communication at work is usually through email via computer or through a phone at work. This means if you're not physically in the office you cannot be reached. The introduction of smartphones has significantly changed that dynamic.
It is becoming normal to include cellphone numbers in email signatures and even convert from work phones to cell phones for business purposes and this is not without consequences.
The lines that once separated work and personal time are now blurred. Work is being done before and after hours, during breaks, and even whilst on vacation.
I know I’ve been guilty of doing this because I always want others to know how helpful I can be. I want to be viewed as dependable and even at home, able to save the day!
Why is always being available for work bad for work-life balance?
It establishes the fact that there are no boundaries. You can always be contacted regardless of the situation or time of day. On the rare off chance that you're not available, people are left disappointed because their expectations were so high.
The result: Others may be pleased that you are always available and may even take advantage of your kindness. Word will spread on who the ‘go-to’ person is for last-minute taskers and before you know it, everyone may come to you for help.
With so many hours in the day, there are only so many people or so many tasks that can be completed. This can result in an ever-growing to-do list, difficulty with managing extra tasks, unfulfilled promises to others, and even burnout.
Let’s introduce burnout and anxiety to the stage!
The expectation to always be available: When your phone is no longer your ‘personal’ device but instead makes it easy to grab your attention, this will lead to burnout. Your off-hours is your time to disconnect from work, nurture your personal life, and recharge so you can be more productive when you're at work.
Work-Life Imbalance: When work-related communication spills into personal time, it can disrupt the work-life balance that is crucial for overall well-being. People may feel guilty for not responding to work messages during personal time and at the same time feel guilty for neglecting their personal life due to work demands.
Fight the need to respond immediately.
If your opinion is needed, they can wait! I’m sure you’re busy doing other things, right? Don't say that you're multitasking because we all know that it's difficult to do properly, especially if the appropriate time and attention should be dedicated.
What’s that? You have to be available if someone needs you. Uh, let’s try this again!
Are you compulsively checking messages, even during off-hours? You’re not going to be left out! If you have other team members, this will give them the freedom needed to exercise some independence and ownership of their jobs. Allow them to resolve issues independently and if they can’t match your expectations, that needs to be communicated.
What is the solution?
To reduce the stress caused by constant communication, both employee and employer need to establish healthy boundaries:
Boundaries: The boundaries between work and personal time can blur when communication tools are used indiscriminately. This eventually leads to work-related stress which invades personal time. The time that is needed to recharge and practice self-care.
Expectations: Manage expectations for communicating availability during on and off hours.
Selective Use of Communication Devices: Prioritize communication and understand that not all need immediate attention and ensure the use of communication through appropriate channels.
Maintain Work-Life Balance: You should encourage a healthy work-life balance to maintain your well-being by respecting your time. Not everyone will be receptive but remember your reason why.
When you begin to respect your time, so will others!
Remember, it's important to find a balance that works for you and your workplace. Open communication about boundaries and expectations can go a long way in reducing the stress caused by constant connectivity.