Reintroduce inertia to separate work and life
As the world progresses, so does technology – although at times, it may be difficult to distinguish which comes first of the two. Every new discovery and invention allows for progress only if wielded in the proper fashion, and despite the unbeliavable benefits we have reaped since the turn of the millennium, we have also contracted numerous ailments. Here’s how to rid yourself of the potential side effects.
It’s hard to refuse a Cornucopia
The ability of humans to constantly scan our environment for new and interesting opportunities is one of the core properties behind our success as a species – but it is also threatening to become our Achilles heel in a society where the Internet provides near-omnipresent, neverending cornucopia of information that our brains are hardwired to react to with immense curiosity.
With easily available remote desktop solutions and an increasing reliance on cloud storage, it’s far too easy to slip into leisure mode when business is at hand, or vice versa. Think about the number of times you’ve snuck a little YouTube during the workday or suddenly realized that you can finish that @£$€!”#¤%& spreadsheet at home – only to spot an important e-mail, and then another one, and then… good heavens, look at the time.
A boundary a day
Separating between work and life is a good thing; unless you are following your true passion and the playbook has been thrown out of the window, the two should be discrete activies fueling and complimenting each other, rather than an amorphous blob of borderless inconsistency. As an example, I bet you’d find it somewhat disconcerting if you and your spouse (provided you have one) were to co-habit with all of yours and hers best friends. It’s analogous to letting business and leisure intrude on each other.
Now, with constant availability comes the constant attraction to information – and the lower the threshold for engagement, the easier it is to succumb. Unless you’re a superhuman, you can rest assured your reflex is perfectly natural – it’s essentially similar to leaving a parked car in an incline with the handbrake disengaged. Whether or not it starts to roll depends to a very little degree on the car itself – but what you can do is to jam a stone behind the tire to prevent things from following their natural course.
Step on the brakes
Switch off e-mail checking after work hours. Switch off checking personal e-mail during work hours (usually far easier). Do the same for IM services, Facebook and whatnot. Install a browser filter to keep you away from your favourite sites at work. Uninstall the VPN. Leave the laptop in your bag, or at work, if you can secure it. If your phone has the option for any of the above, it should follow suit.
If you are in a line of work where your availability may be important after hours, inform colleagues that they can reach you via phone only, and only if it’s urgent. It’s an order of magnitude harder for someone to call you about something that can wait until next day as compared to e-mail you about it.
What you are doing now is reintroducing inertia. Suddenly, combining work and life will require an effort, and though you may still be tempted to follow your established behavioural pattern, you will earn yourself a few precious seconds to make a conscious decision to refrain. If you still succumb, erect higher fences – or acquire a reward system for being able to
Also, depending on whether you prefer your goals to be private or public, you could commit to what you’re going to do publicly (although it may be politically incorrect to send a memo to your superiors on the topic).