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A Step Toward Greater Work-Life Balance

technology worklife balance Aug 02, 2013

Do you ever think about the time when work was done (and left) at the office?  Nights and weekends used to be your personal time to spend with family and friends, all while your email inbox filled up — without you watching — and waited for you to get back to your office desk.

Technology has changed everything about the way we work now, and our work-life balance is blurrier than ever. 

Over 90% of us are estimated to have smartphones, but even that seems like a conservative estimate.  In many ways, the way information comes at us now feels like an assault on our attention span, and it can be overwhelming.  It seems like no one works Monday-Friday, 9-5 anymore, and this is a fundamental shift in the way we, as knowledge workers, work today.

So what do you do? How do you take control and feel less consumed by the demands of work?

The simple answer is to really embrace this shift.

The more clearly we understand that the “always-on” culture we live in is not going away, it will be easier to identify opportunities to achieve better work performance, improve our work-life balance, and empower ourselves to work with greater flexibility.
My first suggestion is to move everything you possibly can to the cloud.

Don’t be reliant upon technology that anchors you to your desktop or office.

Most of the software and tools used in your daily workflow have web-based applications that work seamlessly with shared storage services.
Last year, I moved all of my documents and files off of the company server and into the cloud which allows me access to them everywhere from any device.  I opt to use web-based apps to do the tasks I’ve done for years like proposal writing, financial analysis, and developing presentations and have not looked back.  Most recently, I transitioned my CRM software to a web-based solution that uses virtual assistants to pull in new information, a task that used to take a ton of time for data entry. Pretty amazing and very efficient.

The flexibility to work from anywhere, at anytime, has allowed me to manage and actually enjoy the “always on” culture that has quickly become our new reality.

Get curious and start to familiarize yourself with all the options out there, and take some time to learn about those that you find most intriguing.  Strike up a conversation with your IT person and ask them where they see things moving to.

The information available to us can be applied to many of the primary business functions i.e. Finance/Accounting, Operations, Sales & Marketing, or Customer Service.

Here is a quick action list to get started.

1) Analyze

Look closely at your (and your team’s) workflow and processes. Are there tasks that you only work on at the office? Are you managing your projects and documents in your email inbox?

2) Educate

Get familiar with the shared storage services like Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, iCloud, etc.  Note their differences and decide which service works best for you.  Create bookmarks at home as you have them at the office and download the app to your smartphone and tablet.

3) Identify

Pick one project, add the file(s) associated with the project to your preferred cloud storage service and share the link to the project with your team.  Make sure you can see the files from everywhere.

4) Implement

As you work through many iterations of your project, make sure you stay with your new workflow.  Don’t email to yourself or use a flash drive and only make new versions unless it makes sense to.

As you get more comfortable with the technology and used to having your projects, files, and documents with you wherever you go, you will start to see other opportunities and areas to improve performance in your business.

Question: What are you doing to manage and embrace the “always-on” culture?  Leave a comment below.