Controlled by your computer

I just read this quote by Lewis Eigen, uttered in 1961, which is even more profound today than it was then: "The workers and professionals of the world will soon be divided into two distinct groups. Those who will control computers and those who will be controlled by computers. It would be best for you to be in the former group."

A 2001 survey sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and conducted by Harris Interactive shows that the increased use of technology such as cell phones, beepers, email, and computers has had a tremendous impact on the feelings of overwork in


. The four out of ten employees who use technology often or very often for their jobs during typical non-work hours more frequently feel overworked. About one-fifth of employees in the study said they often or very often have to be accessible to their employers during typical non-work hours and non-work days, while 30 percent said they never have to be accessible. Which are more stressed? Employees who are more accessible to their employers during non-work hours feel more overworked. 

Consequences of being available 24/7:

·        Loss of time for loved ones, reflection, relaxation, and spiritual growth

·        No “unavailable” time: intrusive

·        Can violate desire for privacy

·        Pleasurable activities (lunch with friends, a walk) quickly lose their pleasure when you’re “on call.”

·        Feel like you have no control over your time.

Keep your cell number private. Only five people have my cell phone number: my husband, mother, day care, best friend, and assistant. If you give it to everyone, you will never have private time. Unless your job requires it, give the number to as few people as possible, so you can turn it off and protect your privacy when you choose.

Turn off the computer and television. How much time do you spend surfing the Web each day? Playing video games? Watching television? The Bureau of Labor Statistics “Time-Use Survey” from September 14, 2004, states that on an average day in 2003, men spent about 2.7 hours watching television each day and women watched 2.4 hours each day. Holy cow! If you’re among that group and reduced your television time by only five hours a week, you’d gain almost 11 days a year. What could you do with 11 days a year? Spend more time with someone you love? Think carefully the next time you reach for the remote.

Be fully present. Some people don’t feel productive when they’re not doing four things at once (such as driving, talking on the phone, drinking coffee, and putting on makeup). If this describes you, shift your focus. Avoid the tendency to multi-task at home. Be especially attentive with children for their safety. On weekends, turn off the technology completely. Resist the urge to sneak back into your office to check email “just one more time” while your family hangs out elsewhere in the house.

Draw the line somewhere. If you stayed connected to your email and cell phone all weekend, you will go to bed physically and mentally exhausted on Sunday night. Instead of starting the week recharged, alert, and efficient, you will be sluggish on Monday morning. Slow down and rest. Reinvest in yourself.

What are other ways you use to control your technology, rather than allowing it to control you?



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