The doctors’ work is never done! Nor the researcher, or librarian, or nurse, or parent, or plug in your own profession here. And it is increasingly true.
We have become slaves to smartphones…..and most of us love it. Schumpeter writes in the Economist that “hyperconnectivity exaggerates some of the most destabilizing trends in the modern work place: the decline of certainty (as organizations abandon bureaucracy in favor of adhocracy), the rise of global supply chains and the general cult of flexibility.”
There is no off time. You work your normal day as well as the “other” work day. There is little free, personal or family time. If you are entrepreneurial (starting a new business or just trying to make the current business better), your day never ends. Sarah Needleman in the Wall Street Journal article, “The Accidental Entrepreneur: Personal Time Gets Cut Short Shift,” provides some advice on how to begin to make it work: Structure priorities, communicate with peers and family, and take a break.
Schumpeter quotes Leslie Perlow of Harvard Business School, in her forthcoming book called Sleeping with Your Smartphone, that for most people, the only way to break the 24/7 habit is to act collectively rather than individually; agree that after some time, say 6pm, only life altering e-mails, texts, tweets and rants are allowed until, say, 5am (for the early exercisers and news addicts).
Can this really work? I look at my Blackberry, out of pure nervous habit, ten times an hour (only modest hyperbole). I don’t even wait for the vibration! This last weekend, I put my Blackberry in another room and yes, periodically I got out of my chair, walked into the room, looked at it, put it back down and went back to my chair. At least I got some exercise!!
My challenge is that we have put all forms of communication into a single device, convenient, and never out of mind. I can’t prioritize what I want to hear from or when. I can’t turn off the phone less I miss an urgent family call (or patient call or “the house is burning” call).
So, my new strategy is that, after work hours and weekends, I will look, but not respond unless it is truly urgent. No routine management issues, no requests for meetings, no “hi, just wanted to catch up with you.” For one day, it at least worked. I really did have more free mind time.