Only recently has having access to everyone all the time become an option. Boundaries like evenings, weekends, vacations and holidays used to provide natural work/life buffers. Who’d have ever considered telling a coworker about a glitch in the Matrix while that person was on vacation? Vacation was for vacationing. Period. Pass the daiquiris.
Then the Age of Distraction dawned bringing with it the power to contact everyone at anytime, no matter what their level of interest or response might be. Initially, this seemed like a bonus, but it’s turned out to have significantly unpleasant impacts.
See if this sounds familiar: you’re off the clock, out with friends having a great time. A work notification arrives; you check it (because who wouldn’t?) and see nothing requiring your response. Using the Force, you avoid engaging with all the other items begging for your attention, or maybe you actually do get sucked into dealing with work tasks. Either way, for an instant, you are transported from weekend to workday. Now multiply this event by a whole bunch since it happens all the time. There goes your rejuvenating break from the office.
Distractions take a toll and we’re learning the futility of staying eternally connected to work. Consider:
- Working more hours doesn’t actually get more done. One study revealed that spending 70 hours working produces nothing more than working 55 hours.
- Researchers found that workers putting in 55 hours a week increased their rate of heart disease by 16% over 10 years and workers who averaged 60 hours a week enjoyed a 35% higher risk of heart disease than someone working 40 hours a week.
- It’s harder for exhausted employees to detach from work, leading to insufficient recovery. Overtired workers lack creativity, are less engaged and have lower levels of wellbeing.
What to Do?
It’s not about you; there are complex forces working hard to keep us connected. From FOMO and replyallcalypses to workplace culture and behaviors, it’s a tough tangle to undo. The thing to know is, in order to do our best, we need total breaks from work and we can get these breaks when we rebuild the boundaries that have recently been obliterated.
For those who are up to the challenge, a good place to begin is with the question, “does everyone need to know this right now?” The common answer is “probably not”. Think NewCo’s new workshop Blood or Damage addresses the challenges of constant connectivity and gives teams and individuals tools for streamlining communication using optimal boundaries. Get in touch for details.