There’s been a lot of press lately on technology addiction. Just one internet search on “technology addiction” brought up hundreds of articles and blogs on technology addiction. Oh no, it can’t be that our (beloved, essential, “can’t live without them,” “turn the car around, I forgot my cell phone”) devices are the new problem!?! Yes, it’s a struggle, and it’s real, and not new; this discussion has been going on for quite some time.
Way back in 2012, a Knowledge by Wharton report gave us the disturbing news that a vast number of professionals checked email after work; more than half have taken a device (that’s work-related, not for personal use) with them on vacation and have sent emails while dining with family or friends. Imagine how much more prevalent that behavior must be now six years later. (And that’s not even talking about the people who have to tweet, or post on Facebook, every detail of their day-to-day lives . . . what they had for breakfast, where they eating, what movie they are seeing . . . don’t get us started!)
So, in this new day and time when being available 24/7, 365 days a year has become for some the norm how do we find balance? How do we not stress out or burn out? How do we find balance between our professional and personal lives? Can we discipline ourselves to unplug during whatever we designate as personal “off-duty” time and enjoy our friends and family, our pets, our non-working lives.
How about giving this a try? First, take a deep breath. A really good, deep breath. Close your eyes if you feel inclined to do so (but not while driving or operating heavy equipment, please!)
Now, try being full present in the moment; you don’t have to do it for hours at a time to start. Just dip your toe in the mindfulness pool. Listen to the sounds around you; enjoy the rain.
When you leave your office today, discipline yourself not to check your email this evening. Watch the Olympics. Not much for TV? It’s Valentine’s Day – go to dinner with your significant other, or a friend. Have dinner, have a good conversation about something that does not include work, clients or the law. Not up for hearts and flowers? Go to the gym and really focus on how you are feeling as you work out. You’ll be tempted to take just one look at your email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. . . . resist the urge. It’ll be there in the morning.
Everyone deserves a little down time. Yes, what we do as lawyers is important and has impact on clients’ lives. But every professional needs a little time away – your doctor isn’t on call 24/7; first responders get time off – they aren’t available for life-saving duties 24/7, 365. Enjoy the life your labors have afforded you. All of the work will still be there, but you’ll be refreshed when you tackle it again.