Work/Life Balance: Technology Can Be Your Friend
By Chantal Bechervaise
When it comes to work/life balance, technology, such as smartphones, are often portrayed as the villain. I often see comments and posts about how smartphones keep us tethered to the office 24/7 and how work is always able to reach us.
This is not always the case.
I have read a couple of studies (The Mobile Phone, Perpetual Contact and Time Pressure, and a survey conducted by ILM) that mentioned that people were using mobile phones to connect with family and loved ones more than they were using them for work. And yes, we are working longer hours, but these hours were actually spent in the office and included skipping lunch and were not a result of having a work phone.
I believe that it is how you approach technology and integrate it into your life that makes all the difference. For me, my smartphone is an important tool, not a hindrance. I see the technology I use every day as a part of my lifestyle – a mobile lifestyle.
I also don’t like the term work/life balance. I immediately picture a scale when someone mentions it.
For me, that means that if I want to achieve true work/life balance, then I need to take away or add to each side until they are even. That is not me. My life is constantly changing, with shifting priorities depending on where I am at any given moment of my life or day.
And it would also mean that everyone wants the same type of balance, which is not necessarily true. We are all different and prioritize our lives accordingly. We all have dreams, goals and challenges that affect how we organize our life on a daily basis.
Does that mean one way of achieving work/life balance is better than another? No – it just means that as individuals, we all determine where we focus our energy. We all have choices to make. We all have different priorities and goals, and they tend to change over the course of our lifetime too.
Our goals and priorities tend to shift between career, family, health, spirituality, acquiring knowledge/school, hobbies and finances/obligations. If work and life were truly a perfect balance, our energy would be equally focused amongst all of those things. That doesn’t happen for many and it does not mean that you need to achieve a perfect balance between all of them either in order to feel happy or fulfilled.
Knowing and understanding yourself, so that you know what your priorities are, what your motives are, is part of emotional intelligence. It creates a work/life flow.
A flow is ever changing and allows us to react and adapt to the environment around us. It helps us build resilience and learn and grow.
I like to think of work/life flow as a river….it doesn’t always flow in a straight line but can have twists and bends along its path.
So how does my mobile lifestyle fit into this flow? How does it help me with my priorities?
My smartphone is my personal assistant. My smartphone of choice right now is the Sony Xperia Z3. It is an excellent phone (you can read my blog posts about it here and here.) The features on my Z3, plus the apps I use, integrate so well with my work/life flow that I would be lost without it. My Z3 keeps me organized. It is my backup brain in a way.
I work a full time job (40 hours a week). I have a family too. Because of choices that we made as a family, I am the sole income provider for my family at the moment. My husband is a stay at home Dad and he homeschools our wonderful daughter. Besides a full time job and a family, I also work as a social media consultant/influencer on the side and help support a few online communities. I blog and enjoy using various social media outlets. I volunteer regularly (as giving back to my community is important to me) and I love to read and learn new things and take online courses here and there. On top of all of that, recently I have also been attending a few conferences which include travel. (And yes – I do sleep!)
This type of work/life flow is my choice. So some days work plays a bigger role as a priority and other days it is all about my family. With the choices that I make there are others I cannot make. But to be able to do everything I do on a daily basis, I need my smartphone by my side as I am often planning and working on my goals months in advance. With my work/life flow mindset, I can adapt if things don’t go as planned or if I need to re-prioritize.
My Z3 is my calendar and agenda, to do list, library, entertainment, travel planner, rolodex, and social connector – via social media apps and phone. It is also my camera and note taker. Instead of writing down notes during presentations, I often take pictures of slides which provide me with the visuals that go along with it.
That is what I mean by a mobile lifestyle. I see my Z3 as a way for me to achieve my priorities and goals. I set my boundaries and my Z3 helps me keep them. Not vice versa.
Whether you choose to adopt a mobile lifestyle or not, be conscious of the choices you make and enjoy your work/life flow.
Chantal is located in Ottawa, Ontario. She is passionate about everything related to the World of Work: Leadership, HR, Social Media and Technology. You can read more from Chantal at her TakeItPersonelly blog or follow her on Twitter @CBechervaise.