Have you ever heard the complaint, “I can’t escape my phone”? Chances are you have. Perhaps you’ve even muttered those words a few times because, let’s face it, phones are hard to put aside. So how can that change?
It’s easy to blame smartphones as contributing to the downfall of society, but truthfully, our human need for immediacy has been around since the dawn of humanity. The only difference between then and now is the decline in actual wait time. Primitive man didn’t sit around patiently waiting for an animal to drop dead at his feet, but then again, he also didn’t have the luxury of satisfying his aching stomach the instant it began growling.
Instead, he had to develop tools, weapons, understand nature and animal behavior. Thousands of years later, we too are taking steps to proactively fulfill our needs as quickly as possible. Today, it’s about maintaining a competitive edge, expanding our knowledge and remaining a successful player in the age of technology. With information at our fingertips and so many avenues for discovery, our social norms are changing to reflect our infinite need for answers. But is the direction we’re heading a healthy one?
One could argue patience is a learned behavior rather than an inherent trait. As children we were taught to take turns, to calmly wait, even to control our sense for urgency in non-emergency situations. And yet, as adults, we want information–the quicker the better. We act upon our impulse in seeking answers, particularly now more than ever, because we’ve been handed tools (like smartphones) that enable us to do so. Yet, this ease of technology has left the divide between our work and personal lives murky at best. Suffice it to say, the inability to ignore technology makes escaping work close to impossible.
Maintaining a healthy balance between our personal and work lives isn’t just important, it’s a necessity. As humans, we need proper nourishment, sleep and relaxation. Otherwise, our bodies become rundown, our minds less sharp and our emotional capacity disheveled. When we’re burned out at work, it’s easy to just let go and give up. Workaholism is a problem. And that, if nothing else, is one of the most important lessons we as a society need to learn. Germany has taken action in this regard. Recently, their labor ministry has banned all managers from calling or emailing their employees outside of standard working hours. According to their statement, this prevents undue stress. Among the official guidelines, expectations for employees are made clear:
. . . no staff should be penalized for turning off their cellphone or failing to pick up messages after working hours “to prevent self-exploitation.”
When it comes to productivity and work/life balance, we at AccelaWork have a strong position on the matter: invest in yourself. Working hard and making strides in your career is a great component in your life, but it’s not the only one that matters (nor should it be). We must explore all realms of life to achieve proper balance in all that we do. Indulging in our own well-being inspires us, motivates us, excites us and keeps us happy. Best of all, when we invest in ourselves, we nurture our desire for success, achievement, and even self-improvement.
Take a moment to contemplate: Are you able to escape the phone prison? When you leave the office for the day, do you actually stop all work-related activities for the evening? We venture to guess that many of you are currently agreeing and perhaps even cringing as you quietly answer these questions in your head. As a society, it’s not strange or uncommon to spend evenings catching up on emails or discussing upcoming projects via conference calls. And, in all honesty, this may not even bother the majority of people who do this. It may even make them feel better since they are catching up or getting ahead of the game with work. But eventually, working around the clock will begin to wear on you and the effects won’t be pretty.
Consider that, despite some misleading societal norms, longer office hours doesn’t mean you’re actually getting more done. It may just be that you’re overworking yourself.