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Work Apps Contribute to Burnout

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Swipe, swipe, double-tap. Scroll, pinch-and-zoom, and then there is a buzz. It’s as common to modern life as dialing a rotary phone was generations ago. But is it hurting us?

An article in lifestyle magazine Well+Good digs into the question an article about phone apps and exhaustion. Amy Wikinson opens her piece as follows:

Ping! Buzz! Pinnng! A slew of new-message notifications lights up your phone. With a sigh, you sit down and log in, scrolling through your inbox to answer the most pressing inquiries first. For several minutes—or several hours, even—you methodically craft pitch-perfect responses and thoughtful follow-ups. You schedule meetings, as necessary. Finally, exhausted, you take a break, pouring yourself a glass of wine and turning on Grey’s Anatomy. Because this isn’t even work; this is your dating life.

Smartphone Apps

© Flickr user Aaron Yoo.

The turn at the end of that opening paragraph makes plenty of sense. Technology is in every part of our lives, whether we are at work or at home. (Not that there is much distinction in location these days.) But on the topic of apps for workplace productivity, the post features our own Robby Slaughter, a principal with AccelaWork:

The messaging apps and social media apps you use in the workplace are designed for the same purpose as the dating apps, which is to keep people engaged—to keep you coming back and using it,” he says. The need for workplace apps to be sticky (read: addictive) has led designers and programmers to bling out the most humdrum of productivity programs with playful bells and whistles so they seem less like a chore and more like a game.

“It needs to be fun to use, and you have to have cute messages and little games and ‘Congratulations, you completed all your items!’ pop-ups and mascots and logos, otherwise you won’t be coming back to your tool,” says Slaughter.

Jillian Knight, a therapist who specializes in working with younger people, notes that the problem may be related to the lack of clear separation between one’s personal life and their career:

So what’s an overworked, weary dater to do? First off, says Knight, set boundaries. “There is this kind of always-working mentality that a lot of millennials have, and it’s really hard to shut it off,” she says. “It leaks into when you go home and you’re on Instagram and you’re on Facebook and you’re on dating apps. Having clear boundaries around your work time, your time for yourself, and the time that you are spending with others or pursuing time with others is really important.”

Although here on The Methodology Blog we don’t have much to say about your dating life, we have been talking about burnout for a while. Ashley Lee wrote about how it can be caused by bad bosses and Alyssa Shea warned that remote work isn’t a magic bullet. It’s a problem for just about every organization and every worker. And by all accounts, the proliferation of workplace apps isn’t helping.

Should you ban the technology, as Coca-Cola did with voicemail or others have done with email? Probably not. But consider having an open and honest conversation about how these systems work, their benefits and drawbacks, and especially the unstated culture of their use in your organization.

Because if you have an instant messenger app that people can post in at any time, they will. If you have a collaboration tool for document and photo sharing that lives on phones and in the cloud, it will be leveraged by night owls and distract people who are supposed to be at home with their families.

Choosing not to use technology is often a lot harder than choosing to use it. But sometimes, having restraint is the smartest choice of all.

And now that you mention it, that’s probably true with dating too…

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