“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”
― Arianna Huffington, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, & Wonder
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Internet technology is big in our household. Along with my blog and social media presence, I do a lot of my work on e-mail, Word, Powerpoint, etc. My husband is a Radiologist and long gone are the days of hardcopy films loaded on a viewer. All x-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds, CTs, and MRIs are digital and viewed on computer screens. My kids are also entrenched in the digital era, where cell phones are an appendage and their iPads and video games are never far away. As much as we truly embrace the advantages technology offers, I recognize the increasing difficulty in separating our work life and home life. In our digital era, is work-life balance truly achievable? In short, YES and NO.
Our smart phones are often clogged with e-mails, social media messages and endless to-dos. Given the level of connectivity our devices offer us, it can seem impossible to figuratively and/or physically separate ourselves from them. A Forbes article entitled Glassdoor: Digital Exuberance Hampers Work-life Balance uses the more fitting terms “work-life blur” and “work-life merge”. In the end, we have to find ways to integrate technology into our lives without letting it overtake our sense of ‘balance’. Work-life integration is a newer, probably more accurate term.
Arianna Huffington is a very vocal advocate for creating balance in our lives. Her book Thrive² is based on the concept of a 3-legged stool to define success where money and power comprise two legs, and the third leg, to create balance, is comprised of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. Although computerization can be a powerful tool in our lives, we need to maintain a sense of control over the third metric that focuses on self-renewal.
5 ways to achieve work-life balance in our digital era:
1) Schedule time for your physical wellness: Physical activity is proven to not only improve your health but also lower your stress level. When we feel we don’t have time for exercise is often when we need it the most. Don’t have time to get to a yoga class? Take advantage of our digital world and follow a yoga class online.
2) Make sleep & rest a priority: First and foremost, when adopting good sleep hygiene, do not allow electronic devices in the room where you sleep (it may be unavoidable such as being on-call). Although I often find a good nights sleep to be elusive, developing and prioritizing a consistent bedtime routine will allow your body and mind get the rest they need.
3) Practice mindfulness & meditation: By adding a contemplative practice to your daily routine, you will enhance your appreciation of what matters in life. Mindfulness allows you to live more fully and aware of each moment in life. Meditation, depending on what is important in your life, can take on either traditional or non-traditional forms.
4) Set digital limits: This is critical in order to achieve some semblance of balance in our digital era. Scheduling device-free time is the only way to truly disconnect. I am trying to adhere to this, particularly in the evenings, when I feel compelled to respond to an e-mail or text. If often disrupts my sleep, and as a result, I am further behind, not ahead.
5) Remember “First Things First”: As in Stephen Covey’s book First Things First¹, we need to focus our time on the non-urgent, important aspects of our lives. When you are sorting through e-mails or engaging on social media, ask yourself if what you are doing is helpful in terms of future planning and preparation. In some cases, it may fall into a quality activity whereas in other cases, it may tip us into the imbalance we are trying to minimize.
Do you believe that work-life balance is achievable in our digital era?
1. Covey, S. (1994). First Things First. Free Press: New York.
2. Huffington, A. (2014). Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom & Wonder. Harmony Books: New York.