You’ve decided what you want your holiday work+life fit (or work/life balance) to look like — what activities you’d like to try to participate in, what days you’d like to try to take off, etc. Now, it’s time to figure out in advance how you are going to manage technology to help you achieve your holiday work+life fit goals in the least stressful, most enjoyable way.
Truth: Technology can be your best work+life fit friend. Unfortunate Reality: Instead of managing technology, technology manages you! And the result is a seemingly unending connection between work and your holiday celebrations.
Okay, so what can you do to avoid having technology become the Grinch that Stole Your Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa) this year? Here are a couple of suggestions:
1) Establish upfront with yourself guidelines for when you will or will not check your email and voicemail messages based upon what works best for you. For example, some people are reassured, and relaxed if they check in every once in a while, and they can do that without getting entangled in situations that distract them from their holiday plans. Others, however, can’t do this. They check in and then find themselves embroiled in a work project and not focusing on the holidays. Know yourself, and plan those boundaries in advance and then STICK TO THEM!
2) Establish, upfront, with colleagues (if you work with others) or with your clients (if you work for yourself) how people can contact you if case of an emergency and then establish what defines an emergency. Then STICK TO IT–don’t call in or send unsolicited emails to colleagues! Assume you will be contacted if there is a problem, as agreed. For some people, the end of the year is a busy time that does require being “available” to answer questions. For others, however, December is one of the quietest months. Gauge your job, and then plan accordingly.
3) Make sure you are using technology to communicate effectively. Leave a clear message on your voicemail informing callers you are out of the office and when and how you should be contacted. Leave an equally clear, and informative auto-reply message on your email. Then assume if you aren’t hearing anything that all is well, and enjoy yourself!
Bottom line: Make a technology plan that supports your holiday work+life fit goals and STICK TO IT! If that means stuffing your cell phone or Blackberry into the back of your sock drawer, then by all means, do what you must do.
Check in next week for Holiday Work+Life “Fit” Tip #3 — “Finding” Extra Holiday Time and Energy