Avoiding “Always On” Syndrome in a Digital World

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Power On Button (Photo credit: LivingOS)

With Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to be commonplace in the workforce by 2017 according to a recent Gartner report, and our obsession with smartphones as this Business Insider report suggests, it is very easy to get burnt out with the “Always On” syndrome.

This syndrome is especially challenging for those who telework or who work from home.

You know what I’m talking about.

  • Sneaking those email messages when your kid is reading a book to you
  • Texting your brilliant idea to a colleague at 9:00 at night so you don’t forget it
  • Agreeing to take that 7pm call while picking your kid up from practice, just because you can with your bluetooth-enabled car

It is important to remember that burnout can come out of nowhere and hit you hard. But here are a three simple tricks you can implement to help avoid burnout from “Always On” syndrome.

1.  Set your mental office hours and stick to them.

While I am not suggesting holding on to a 9-5 mentality, set your mental workday and understand when it is work time and when is private time.  It might vary daily, but at least you’re setting boundaries.  Sure, there are times when you need to address things outside of your mental office hours, but make the effort to give yourself some personal and professional boundaries.  If you need to schedule work in your personal hours, just pause and ask if it really can’t wait until your designated work hours.

2.  Use technology to help create those boundaries.

This one is simple.  There’s an on/off switch on most devices.  Use it.  Whether it’s your smartphone, or a program on your computer, have times in your day where it’s just not on.

3.  Consider what you will allow to cross those personal and professional boundaries.

Most things at work and home do not need to be addressed all the time, right away, but some things might be important enough to truly be “always on”.  It’s important to reflect on them from time to time, to help you stick within your boundaries.

One “always on” professional priority for me is customer acquisition.  I will allow my personal/professional boundary lines to be crossed if it has something to do with customer acquisition.  I will take a client call outside of my mental office hours if necessary.   Because I am in a start-up, my business partner is another priority that can cross those boundaries.

My personal “always on” is my family.  I am very stingy about interruptions when I’m with my kids or my spouse, and I will always allow family needs to interrupt my mental office hours, if necessary.

Notice the “if necessary”.  Sometimes it’s not necessary to cross those boundaries, and that’s okay too.  (As a bonus, it teaches my children delayed gratification and reminds them as they head into their teenage years that boundaries exist.)

The end result is:

  • my clients know I’m there for them,
  • my business partner knows I’m there for her,
  • my family knows I’m there for them,
  • I don’t feel like I’m “always on”.

What tips or suggestions do you have in overcoming “always on” syndrome?

About Lisa Duncan | Alternative Workstyle Enthusiast

Completely and totally passionate about work flexibility, love helping other businesses succeed, aiming to change how we think about workplace. Co-Creator of the digital workplace, www.flipsideworkspace.com., Co-Founder of www.duncancoleverria.com, #huffbost blogger. [Duncan Coleverria]
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2 Responses to Avoiding “Always On” Syndrome in a Digital World

  1. Pingback: Avoiding “Always On” Syndrome in a Digital World | The Awkward Gawker

  2. Lynn Patra says:

    Reblogged this on Work-Life Strategies & Solutions and commented:
    More and more people find themselves conducting work on their own devices and at locations other than the centralized office building regardless of whether or not they are officially recognized as telecommuters by their employer. If you check around, you’ll find that many traditional 9-to-5 office workers find themselves working from home even after their 8-hour stint at the office is over. Yes, seriously! This is done in the attempt to “get some serious work done” – something they aren’t always able to do at the office thanks to all the distractions that come with sharing office space with others. As Lisa Duncan explains in this post, being “always on” puts workers at serious risk for burnout. She follows up by offering some excellent, practical tips on establishing boundaries between work and personal life. Read on for information that can improve your work-life or the work-life of someone you know!

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