One of the great challenges of contemporary life is maintaining a balance between personal space and time, and the demands of public and private life. With the ever-increasing advantages new technology provides come ever-increasing expectations on you. These days, you’re expected to be able to keep up with the pace, the data and the responsibility of navigating it all -and this often leaves little time for self-sustaining stuff like reflection and wisdom.
When you are expected to operate at warp speed while remaining totally flexible and accessible, things can easily become overwhelming. It’s increasingly difficult to see through to the heart of things and to remain in touch with what really matters for very long. Many of us find ourselves in a state of chaos, feeling fragmented and unable to piece together our experiences and our selves at the end of the day. Which is why it’s so important to set boundaries to protect yourself from burnout.
Try these ways to calm the chaos, clear the proverbial clutter, reassert control over your life and start to feel whole again. Just follow our lead…
These days, you not only have to contend with phones, faxes and pagers, but also cell phones, text messaging, laptops and Wi-Fi. If you wanted, you could remain accessible to others 24/7. While this certainly makes it easier to stay in touch with the important people in your life, it also opens the door to you being accessible to everyone you’ve ever met, plus anyone else who decides they want to sell you a vacation, the latest pharmaceuticals or season tickets to the symphony! Without limits or boundaries, the demands and information coming your way can block out what little time there is for concentration, meditation and truly productive work.
Some people enjoy fluidity between their work and personal life, whether it’s because they work at home or bring their work home. When work bleeds over into their personal life, they feel like they’re getting more done, have more flexibility and that things are really integrated. While there are positives to this type of lifestyle, there is also the danger of being more vulnerable to the whims of the world and your family – all the time. Compartmentalizing your day can help to strengthen boundaries.
Increase face time
It’s becoming increasingly necessary to actively create opportunities for meaningful interaction. Technology has advanced to a level where workers don’t always need to speak to each other to get things done – real conversation in the workplace requires concerted effort. While communication through email is fast and convenient, it’s no replacement for the social subtleties of face-to-face conversation. If you telecommute, sometimes even a phone call is better than an email. There is so much to be gained from just hearing another person’s voice.
- Check around-the-clock access. Unless it’s really important (you decide), don’t take calls, check emails or surf the Web after a certain time of day.
- Instead of obsessively checking your work email every five minutes, schedule times during the day when you read and answer emails. Depending on the demands of your job, you might be able to get away with reading and responding to emails just two or three times a day. Experts say this is actually a more efficient way of working, freeing you to focus on other things instead of waiting for the next communication.
- Have a real conversation – not through text or email. Make it a point to schedule in-person meetings with your boss, co-workers and associates. Instead of sending an email, walk over to your co-worker’s office every now and then, and address them in person. If a friend works nearby, try to meet for lunch.
- Set boundaries at home as well. Do you work on a computer all day, then come home and turn on your home computer, only to get overwhelmed by personal email, sucked into social networking, and, before you know it, it’s 10 p.m. and you haven’t even eaten dinner? Try setting a limit on the amount of time you spend at your home computer. Try a half hour each day or schedule two days a week when you spend an hour each day dealing with your personal email and catching up on the latest YouTube videos.
- Let your friends know that you don’t check your email everyday or that you prefer a phone call to catch up rather than an email saying, “I haven’t seen you in forever. What’s going on in your life?”
- Be aware of the macro level, but focus on the micro – your team at work, your friends and family outside of work.
- Finally, plan a relaxing, peaceful weekend with family or friends.
The more clearly you are able to identify the things that are the source of chaos, the better you will be able to find specific solutions, to realistically set priorities and bring balance and satisfaction back into your life!
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