It’s hard to imagine life before the BlackBerry. Though it was introduced just nine years ago, 13 million people now use this device to stay connected in the Information Age. The fact is, many people are too connected, literally keeping their BlackBerrys with them 24/7.
For many of my coaching clients, over-dependence on technology is an ongoing topic in our coaching sessions. Here are a few of the comments they’ve made:
“As soon as the plane hits the runway, I reach to turn it on.”
“I’m not sleeping well, because I’m always on alert.”
“My wife got upset last night, because after we were done making love, I turned on the light, grabbed my BlackBerry, and starting reading my email.”
“When I’m at dinner with clients, I regularly excuse myself, and then go to the restroom to check my emails.”
“I’m addicted, and I don’t know how to stop.”
While technology is designed to make life easier, it’s certainly not having that effect. It’s adding to the stress, overwhelm, and busyness of everyday life. No wonder people jokingly refer to them as “CrackBerrys.”
"American workers have a love-hate relationship with technology,” said Mary Madden. “Along with the benefits of increased connectivity comes a host of new issues into workers’ lives.” Ms. Madden is co-author of a report published Wednesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Although survey participants cite the benefits of increased connectivity and flexibility that technology affords them, many also say these tools have added stress and new demands to their lives. For example, 50% of email users say they check their work-related email on the weekends. Fully 22% say that they check their work email accounts "often" during weekend hours, compared with 16% who reported the same in 2002. 34% of email users say they will at least occasionally check their email while on vacation; 11% say they do so "often."
Blackberry and PDA owners are more than twice as likely to report that their employer expects that they will stay tuned in to email outside of the office. Fully 48% say they are required to read and respond to email when they are away from work.
What is the impact of this increased connectivity? 49% say these technologies increase the level of stress in their job. 49% say these technologies make it harder for them to disconnect from their work when they are at home and on the weekends. And 46% say these tools increase demands that they work more hours.
Here’s the advice I give my clients: Create boundaries. It’s the only way to prevent technology from completely taking over our lives.
Turn it off, and leave it in your briefcase. It will be there in the morning. You’ll awake more rested, and better equipped to start your day. You won’t wake up with stress, and you’ll be more focused through the day.
And, most importantly, establishing boundaries will communicate to your spouse and children that they are more important than your CrackBerry. Because they are wondering about that.
To read the entire report, visit the Pew Internet & American Life Project website.