Technology has given us access to the work world like never before. While this allows us the freedom to work wherever, whenever, this freedom can be a double-edged sword. Studies show that, of the top-level managers who use smart phones, 60 percent say they are connected to work between 13.5 and 18.5 hours each day of the week. Add the fact that nearly 50 percent of executives feel the need to respond to work-related emails on evenings and weekends, and it’s clear that our technology is having a negative impact on our work-life balance. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case; technology was created to help us manage our lives, and with a few adjustments one can re-master their technology and their time.
One of the biggest headaches professionals deal with in regards to technology is an inbox full of unnecessary emails. One way to fix this is by limiting the number of people reply-all emails can reach, and by counting each recipient separately rather than all as one. Another solution would be requiring employees to label their emails according to urgency – those requiring immediate responses, those requiring a response with less urgency, and those that require no response. This is easy to implement, as Microsoft Outlook already offers these options along with the ability for the sender to specify how quickly they need a response. This would allow recipients to prioritize their emails while not at work; urgent ones would merit a response, while those that are less important could wait until office hours. A final, non-email solution to a growing work-life imbalance offered by technology is the ability for managers to set calendar blocks, limiting the time or amount of meetings that are scheduled daily. This would force employees and managers to save meetings for truly urgent matters, leaving more time at the office to finish work and less time on nights and weekends. These simple changes could help executives, managers and professionals regain control of their technology, their workload, and their personal lives.