Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Creating a meaningful work and life balance – 3: in an always connected and available context

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on April 16, 2011

This is my third posting in a series on creating a meaningful work and life balance with the first two installments, Part 1: a rapidly evolving challenge and Part 2: while working in a rapidly changing context available in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development.

I said at the end of Part 2 in this that with this posting “I am going to focus on the way we communicate and share using ubiquitous resources. I will outline some of the problems and issues and suggest some approaches for resolving them in your favor and to your long term benefit.” And I want to start that with a bottom line conclusion.

• The most powerful and effective tool you may have in creating a meaningful work/life balance, and in having a life outside of work may very well be in learning when and how to simply turn off your cell phone and other handheld devices. At the very least this can mean knowing when you can call back later, and following through on that in active practice.

The president of the United States has to be on-call all of the time, 24 hours a day and seven days a week – one reason why presidents age so much in their few years in office. Few people legitimately have to be on-call and actively connected to their jobs and their work responsibilities all the time and everywhere in that way. But cutting the cord and stepping back to have a life outside of work can be enormously difficult. And even if you do not get calls and text messages from colleagues at all hours, mentally stepping away can be just as difficult.

Ultimately, having a life outside of work is up to you, and you have to take ownership and responsibility for that. And that means giving yourself permission to disengage and actually doing so.

We live in a society and a technology-driven culture where ubiquitous connection is becoming the norm. Setting boundaries has become more difficult and more important, and for that reason if for no other.

• Do you work in a corporate culture of constant responsibility and with a supervisor or with colleagues who do not respect your right to have time off?
• If you face the occasional crunch period at work where overtime work is needed, you need to be able to negotiate for compensatory down time to balance this out.
• If you work in a situation where every time is crunch time and you are always being pressed into making that extra effort at the expense of never really getting an opportunity to step back and disengage, you need to recognize that this is a problem that will burn you out and erode your quality of life in the process.

The next installment in this series is going to turn to the issues faced when finding a work/life balance that would be right for you, and in negotiating to achieve this. In that, I warn you, your most challenging negotiations may be with yourself.

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