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Break Free from Your Electronic Shackles

You owe it to yourself to have quiet, uninterrupted stretches throughout the day

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As the end of 2021 draws near, it’s as good a time as any to reassess our relationship with our personal technology. I encounter career professionals in all types of endeavors who cannot bear to be away from their smart phones or mobile devices for any protracted period. Their fear is the risk of missing a vital call, one that could lead to, say, a huge business contract.

Today nearly everybody proceeds as if they are constantly at risk of missing out on something by not being near their smart phone or other communication device. Sadly, such individuals can’t consistently muster the concentration levels necessary to executive their tasks. The notion of being immersed in a project with no possible distractions is seemingly out of the question. This mind set represents irrational thinking for many reasons.

Jumping for Every Call

On most days, most of the time, no call is coming that is so critical that you have to be attuned to commutation devices around the clock. Even when a big opportunity comes your way, if you position your business correctly, you don’t need to be overly concerned with having to answer the phone call or the inquiry the moment it comes.

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Establishing notable differentiation in what you offer in your target niche increases the probability that callers and inquirers who are seeking your product or services will not abandon ship merely because you weren’t available the first moment they made contact. Indeed, my entire career, as a professional speaker has been based on this concept.

When someone calls my number to book me for a speaking engagement at their conference or convention, fortunately, they usually are calling because they want me in particular. I hold the registered trademark as “The work life balance expert” and have established this niche over the last 24 years.

Typically inquirers are not seeking a “time management speaker” or a “stress management speaker,” although on occasion that does happen. My strategy has never been to be perceived as a rank and file time management or stress management speaker. The inquirers I receive invariably are from those people who wanted something different and, in particular, wanted me.

Differentiate or Die

Likewise in your business, or in your career, when you differentiate what makes you unique and or better than the competition, the obsession with being available the moment anybody inquires vanishes.

Suppose you haven’t clearly differentiated your product or services. Even then, you don’t have to be totally attentive to smart phones and mobile devices around the clock. You merely need to establish a trade-off between the times when it makes sense for you to concentrate on the task at hand, versus those times when you are available to all inquiries.

Especially for entrepreneurs in solo or small companies, you can offer automated or posted messages that tell inquirers the best times to reach you. Most people can understand and respect that. Yes, there will be instances when the inquirer goes on to the next party down the list and you lose that opportunity. That, however, cannot be the rationale for your being a slave to communication technology around the clock.

A Lost Prospect Equals Death?

Years back in a course I attended, the instructor said that if you’re in sales, for example, and you’re overly focused on making this one sale, you won’t be at your best. The prospect can feel your anxiety. Why would you be so anxious about this sale? The presenter said, too many people unconsciously contemplate a string of potential disasters. If they don’t make this sale, they might not make quota and their income will suffer. By not having considerable earnings, they may have to do without. Their spouse might be upset. Their children might starve.

If other sales prospects fall through, they could lose they could be in dire financial straights. They could lose their home. They could imperil their company. As a result of this, they might fall ill. They might not have the funds to take care of themselves, and then they might die.

In other words, amazingly, many sales professionals, as well as entrepreneurs and executives in a wide variety of companies, approach a current opportunity with the subconscious mind set that if they are not successful at this particular juncture, it leads to death.

The Larger Toll

Missing an opportunity is not the end of the world, even missing a large contract because the inquirer went to the next party on the list. Conversely, what is the toll taken on you for being available 24/7? How effective have your solutions been clients when you are not able to focus on the task at hand, offer your complete and undivided attention, and hence do you best work?

As we proceed into an ever faster future of greater technological capability, the risk of missing something important versus being able to do our best work will become a larger issue. It’s vital to establish parameters now as to when we will maintain “an open door policy” of being accessible via electronic communication, and when we will safeguard our ability to focus and concentrate by removing or at least limiting any such intrusions.

You owe it to yourself to have quiet, uninterrupted stretches throughout the day and the week when you can think, evaluate, and make the kinds of decisions that propel your company forward.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Business

Smart Move in a Rough Economy: Help Your Boss to Shine

Stay on top of your job, your department’s goals, and your company’s objectives

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Making your boss look good can only reflect favorably on you. Both your boss and his or her supervisors will appreciate this.

The best way to make your boss look good is to handle your work efficiently and thoroughly. If your boss is fair, he or she will give you credit for the work, increasing your chances of promotion.

If your boss is not doing his or her share of the work, leaning on you unfairly without giving you the credit, it’s still likely that you’ll be promoted when your boss is promoted. That person knows you’ve been doing more than your share, and he or she won’t be able to take a new position without your help.

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Becoming a Mentor to Others

Maybe you’re only 27 years old, or perhaps you’ve only been with your present firm for a year and a half. Yet, with your previous experience and achievements, you may already be in a position to serve as a mentor to junior members of your organization. This can be accomplished on an informal, ad hoc basis, and you can literally choose the amount of energy you’re willing to commit. Helping junior members always looks good to those above you, especially at performance review time.

Stay on top of your job, your department’s goals, and your company’s objectives. This three-way strategy includes reviewing your job description, deciding precisely what your department’s goals are, and determining your company’s objectives:

Your Job Description

First, knowing your job description and honoring it, or amending it if necessary, protect you from any misunderstandings. It will also give you an idea of the part you play in the total picture of the organization, an important factor in your work satisfaction and chance of promotion.

Your job description ideally contains all the important activities of your position, the knowledge you need to have or acquire to perform those activities, and some sense of your overall role. If your job description does not adequately detail the information you need to know and the responsibilities you have, now is the time to change it.

Company Goals

Second, learn and understand the goals of your part of the company. By whatever method your organization is broken into groups — department, division, project team — your group has objectives.

Goals are important to guide actions as well as to mark milestones. Knowing your group’s goals will help you to set priorities for your own work and make wise decisions concerning how jobs can best be done.

What is the Mission?

Finally, be aware of your organization’s mission. Any organization, from the smallest business to the multibillion-dollar corporation, has a mission. If you don’t already know it, find out. Your organization’s brochure, annual report, promotional literature, or employee handbook will have the mission spelled out.

The mission will unify and give meaning to all the division or department goals. Although conflicts among divisions will occur because of the nature of different responsibilities, a solid base can be produced when all employees realize the overall mission of the organization.

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Business

Lessons of the 2020s: Unanticipated Events Happen

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being as well as on our time

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By now, nearly everyone has mentally marked the first few years of this decade as strange and, for those on the right, entirely upsetting. While we can’t guard against the unknown, or anticipate radical moves emanating from Washington DC, we can seek to do our best with what we have and what we know.

Each day when you compose your to-do list and begin proceeding merrily down it, do you take into account what is likely to occur in the course of a day? No matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling the products and tasks unexpected obligations, interruptions, and other developments arise that are going to throw us off.

How do you react when you are humming along, and all of a sudden, you get an assignment from out of left field? Perhaps your boss has asked you to jump on something immediately. Maybe a client calls. Maybe something gets returned to you that you thought was complete.

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To Be Flustered No More

If you are like most professionals, you immediately will become flustered. The intrusion on your time and your progress means that you are not going to accomplish all that you set out to before the end of the day. Is there a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish?

I believe there is, and it involves first making a miniature, supplemental to-do list that accurately encapsulates the new task that you need to handle. Why create this supplemental to-do list? It gives you focus and direction, reduces anxiety, and increases the probability that you will remain buoyant at the time of its completion and be able to turn back to what you were doing before the task was assigned.

If you don’t compose such a list, and simply plow headlong into the unexpected challenge that has come your way, you might not proceed effectively, and you might never get back to the to-do list on which you were working.

Anticipating the Unexpected

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent more than intrusions on our time; they represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being. Some people are naturally good at handling unexpected situations. Most of us, however, are not wired like this. Interruptions and intrusions on our workday take us off the path that we wanted to follow, and tend to be at least momentarily upsetting.

So… when executing the items on your to-do list, proceed ‘knowing’ that there will be an interruption of some sort. You don’t know when it is coming or how large it will be, but it will pull you off course. The key question for you is: can you develop the capacity to maintain balance and equanimity in the face of such disruptions?

The good news is that you can, and it all starts with acknowledging that the situation is likely to happen, devising a supplemental checklist to handle the new task, and as deftly as possible, returning to what you were doing.

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