Techno-Stress: Six Survival Rules
You know you have techno-stress when you can't keep up with newspapers and letters that arrive at work and home. Cell phones ringing in restaurants make you want to scream and your workload continues to mount as you are available 24 hours a day anywhere on the planet.
Welcome to the age of technology. An age where computers and gadgets should free up our time but seem to rule us instead.
Recent news stories have focused on the PDA - the Blackberry as the 'Crack-berry'. This was first mentioned by L.A. Times reporter, Joe Robinson, author of Work To Live. He mentioned the addiction to this portable digital assistant as being similar to the feelings that a drug addict has to crack. Once a person uses this device, they can't stop checking emails, phoning, writing and fidgeting with it.
Some business people go on vacation and 'bring their office' with them. Is it any wonder they burn out?
If you think I'm cutting down technology, you've missed the finely pixilated point - these gadgets are great and can save us time, money and help us find information. The trick is to control them - not have them control us.
"How do we do that? Create a set of techno-rules for home and the office."
Take out a sheet of paper and quickly write down your biggest time wasters. These might include: email and spam sorting, fax machines, too much time on the Internet, too much time to print a report, the list is endless...
Next, try these rules to introduce simplicity into your life.
• Create a time schedule. Limit the time people can reach you. For instance, you may be available for work by phone, fax and email from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. every day from Monday to Friday. Nights and weekends are off limits except for emergencies.
Before Arnold Schwarzenneger became Governor of California, he and Maria Shriver decided to put on their answering machine from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm so they could have time for their family at home. This may be different now that he's governor, but I think you get the idea...
• Limit your email time. Limit the number of times you look at e-mail. Choose early morning, mid-day and late afternoon to check for messages. Just think about paper mail - you wouldn't check 20 times a day, would you?
• Limit your Internet time - set a time limit before you surf. You research one thing and before you know it, you've linked to five sites and wasted two hours.
• Buy the right equipment. When you're considering new equipment, seek advice. Avoid buying that new fancy printer if your old one is all you need right now.
• Hire techies. If you're not technology-inclined and your computer crashes when a report is due, it may be worth your while to hire an expert to fix your problem. Sometimes, they're worth their weight in gold.
• Take a Techno-Escape. Most of us run our businesses with many digital devices and we need to take a break every once in a while. Take 10 minute breaks when pressure hits. Get up, stretch, leave the office and go outside. Leave your cell phone at the office, talk to friends or hide in your car and put put the seat down for a few moments of peace and quiet.
Before I applied these rules, I wasted time checking emails 20 times a day (yes, I was addicted), surfed the Internet too long, bought the wrong PDA and tried to do all the technical programming myself. Talk about frustration.
If you follow these tips, you'll never be a slave to technology again. And the upside? You'll have more time to make money and take a 'real' holiday.