Technology Killed Snow Days (and Work-Life Balance)

Work-life balance in the digital age

George & Mary-Lynn share keys to work-life balance in the digital age. Click the player to listen to The BIGG Success Show Podcast.

Here in the Midwest, we got a real blast of winter yesterday. Many schools were closed. So were a number of businesses.

Remember snow days as a kid? If you live in a cold-weather area, you almost certainly do. Weren’t they the best?

You were supposed to go to school, but the night before or the morning of, you turned on the local TV news or tuned into your favorite radio station to find out if you had a day off.

You would wait and wait and wait. Finally, your school was announced. A free day! Glorious!

Technology killed anticipation

Which brings us to one way technology killed snow days – it took away the anticipation.

Now if you want to know if school’s out, you check online. You have the answer in seconds, before you have time to experience the joy of delayed gratification.

The physical-to-virtual shift killed work-life balance
For adults, it used to be you went to the office to work. Then you came home.

Work-life balance was easier to achieve because you needed physical things to do your work – things like paper and files. You could only transport so much of them back and forth in a briefcase.

Now we live in the digital age. Our files are in the cloud. We can access them anytime from anywhere, as long as we have an internet connection. And of course we have an internet connection at home. So we can work anytime – even on snow days.

We feel compelled to work. That’s another way technology killed snow days – it took away our excuse for not working, for having an unexpected day where we got to live “life.”

The question to ask

But the question we have to ask ourselves is…

Who’s the master? Do we rule the technology or does it rule us?

A growing trend is to get rid of the smartphone, to go back to back to a PHONE – you know…a tool which makes and receives phone calls.

It’s an attempt to get back some sanity, to find work-life balance in an on-demand world.

And while we aren’t recommending you abandon your smartphone, we are suggesting that each one of us still needs boundaries.

Virtual boundaries

Before, boundaries were physical – you were at the office or you were at home. Now you need to set virtual boundaries, which makes it more difficult.

How can you adjust to this new world of virtual boundaries? We’ll share three keys.

1) Understand the true goal of work-life balance
When you dig deep and think about the essence of work-life balance, you realize that balance was never really the goal. The goal was variety.

You need to diversify your activities like successful investors diversify their portfolios. That’s how they get the best returns without taking too much risk. You need to think the same way with your time.

For example, research has shown that the most innovative people on earth have a hobby, usually a creative one. Even though their activity is purely recreational, they only have one brain. They learn, even when they’re playing.

When you diversify your activities, you diversify your payoffs.

A lot of us do work which doesn’t yield immediate, tangible results. You may see results over time, but it doesn’t pack the same punch as a project where you can see the payoff immediately.

Diversify your payoffs by the projects you select at home. We painted a room in our house one weekend. It felt so good to see the impact of our work in minutes.

2) Leave nothing to chance
Schedule EVERYthing. We had to learn this one the hard way. We always scheduled work time. After all, that’s important.

But so is your personal time. Schedule it as well. For example:

  • Schedule a regular date night if you’re in a relationship
  • Schedule time with your kids if you have them
  • Schedule time just to be with yourself – for planning, for dreaming, for hobbies

Treat personal appointments as if they were work appointments. They’re just as important if you want to live a full life.

3) Stay open
Think about a coffee shop’s front window. They have a sign which they flip from Closed to Open. Your sign should always be Open.

Now we know that what we’re about to say contradicts our last tip – schedule everything. But BIGG thinkers have the have the ability to hold two diametrically opposed concepts in their mind simultaneously. So we know you can do this.

The point here is to maintain some flexibility. The trick is to not cram your schedule so full that you don’t have time to be responsive and opportunistic.

For example, allow time for an occasional snow day – even if it doesn’t snow.

We did just that recently. We had a day with unusually mild weather. We looked at our schedule and realized there was nothing so important or so urgent that we couldn’t get out in nature and refresh our spirits.

So we did. And we had a lovely day. Fully refreshed, we got back to work the next day and had one of our most productive days in a long time.

We’re BIGG fans of technology. But make sure you’re its ruler, not the other way around. Create a custom life blend for your BIGG success!

Thanks so much for reading this summary of our show. If you found this helpful, would you share it with your friends?

Until we “meet” again, here’s to your BIGG success!

– George & Mary-Lynn

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