Saying NO to your iPhone


Technology Overload

Does this look like one of your workdays? You are at your desk, facing two computer screens. On one, the internet is open to do research, and the other screen has one of your four email accounts open (the other three notify you when a message arrives). You also have text messaging active, along with Google chat, in case someone at the office needs to connect. Around your neck is an LG Bluetooth stereo headset, ready for the next call that comes in on your iPhone; and iTunes is running in the background. Buried in the middle of all this technology is a project you are working on that’s due tomorrow. You’ve been working on it all week and just aren’t making the progress you thought you would, despite your skill in multi-tasking.

Turns out, research proves you can’t multi-task. John Medina writes, in Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School, that we are “biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously.”  Four steps must occur in your brain every time you switch from one task to another. It is time-consuming, and that’s why we find ourselves losing track of where we were and having to ‘start over.’ When you are interrupted, studies show that it takes 50% longer to complete a task, and you are likely to make up to 50% more errors.

I found myself experiencing real frustration over my work-life balance and technology in December of 2012. I was surviving instead of thriving.  That’s when I picked up Medina’s book and figured out I had to build some boundaries around technology. I wanted my life back.

Here are seven choices I made that helped me set strong boundaries.

  1. I turn off iTunes, notifications for email and messages, and Google chat whenever I have a project to complete, a blog to write, or a training to design. I now get it done in half the time.
  2. I don’t check email after 7 pm in the evening. Too many nights I’ve laid awake upset by an email that could have waited until morning.
  3. I only check email 2 – 3 times a day, and I have no email notifications of any kind operating on my iPhone. This enables to spend quality time on the person I’m with or project I’m designing.
  4. I say NO to my iPhone.  I usually don’t answer the phone when I’m with someone else, and I don’t use it in a checkout line. Face-to-face contact is precious.
  5. Sundays and vacations are days of rest from technology. I may talk to someone on the phone, but I rarely check or respond to email. This is huge, as it strengthens the other boundaries you’ve set around technology.
  6. I stopped trying to “do” Twitter. I have an account and enjoy tweeting to help a speaker or presenter; but, too many times, I found myself setting things up at 8 pm.
  7. When I first started blogging, I was told I had to do it 2 – 3 times a week in order to build a following. Now I write 5 – 6 times a year—and only when I think what I’m writing will benefit others.

Do you want your life back? Would you like to thrive in our 24/7 world?  I encourage you to start small and set 1 or 2 boundaries around the technology in your life. You’ll find your relationships become richer, your sleep more refreshing, and your free time will really be free.

Confessions of a Workaholic


“Hi, Nancy!  How are you?  Busy?”

“Actually, just right!”

That’s my response when someone asks me how I am.  If you’ve been following this newsletter for the last year, you know that I set a goal in 2013 to accomplish more by doing less.  I wanted an unhurried pace of living that would enable me to serve clients, spend time with family, and focus on what is most important.  I’m a little surprised and a little in awe that I’ve achieved it.  Now I don’t want to mess it up. I know I could, because I have red shiny ball syndrome.  Each new idea or concept can take me off my plan and path.

I have been a workaholic all my life – working long hours, achieving goals, and taking on new challenges.  But over the last few years, things other than achievement and work began to have more value in my life.  So last January, I made a commitment to back off my pace.  It wasn’t easy or simple.  In fact, I’m confessing my struggles to you.  I hope in doing so, it encourages me to stay the course and gives you the courage to try the same.

1)      A voice in my head still tells me I’m not doing enough.  I’m learning to override that voice.  I have my values posted in a frame on my desk, and my values vision statement in the same frame.  When that nagging voice goes off, I look at those values and remind myself that right now I’m living values intentionally.  It feels good!

2)      As my time started to be less programmed by work, I started to fill that spare time with volunteer opportunities.  About 4 months in, my husband challenged me.  I told someone I’d done well in prioritizing my time.  He said I’d just shifted emphasis.  He was right.  I had to make some tough decisions about what to say no to

3)      I’ve struggled with fear.  “What if” questions pop into my head.  What if my clients interpret my new approach as negative?  What if I’m perceived as lazy?  What if revenue takes a hit?  I’ve had to keep my eyes focused on what was most important and not let fear keep me from trying a new approach.

In my book, The Dichotomy of Power, I wrote “If we face fear, embrace, fear, overcome fear, we can lead with courage.  We can live with integrity.”  2013 was a year of putting my words into actions.  The benefits have far outweighed the costs.  No more chasing red shiny balls.

Torn between Work & Family


It’s 9:00 pm on Wednesday evening and I’m caught in a dilemma.  I have spent the last several days conducting interviews in the morning and writing  on a project for a client in the afternoons.  I’m on target with the search, behind my timeline for the writing.  Tomorrow is another day with morning interviews, phone calls with clients in the afternoon, and a couple of hours for writing.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are set aside to celebrate our 30th anniversary with family at a lake cabin.

 I’m torn and I can feel the pressure building. I have to take a deep breath, relax, and refocus.    I need Friday and part of Saturday to write and catch up – but my core values are faith, family, and then career in that order.  So this is where the rubber hits the road.  I am praying and asking  God for grace and wisdom – and self-control so that I won’t work over the weekend.  I am excited about spending time with the kids and other family members and don’t want to work and spoil this time.  I also don’t want to be worrying about my workload.

 So it’s going to be nose to the grindstone tomorrow, and then family first on the weekend.   As tough as it feels right now, I know it’s the right thing to do.  I WILL feel better because I will act with integrity.   Hold me accountable and  I’ll give you a progress update next week.  When have you chosen family over work?