We have to keep our software up to date. We have to know which add-ons are the best ones for our needs. We have to be the go-to IT support for our clients. And, the list goes on.
What was going through your head when you listened to Dave and Paul discuss The Trials and Tribulations of Technology in their From The Trenches podcast episode 59? Could you relate?
To recap, the boys were discussing how we have many issues technology-based issues to deal with at work now that didn’t really exist a decade or so ago. We have to keep our software up to date. We have to know which add-ons are the best ones for our needs. We have to be the go-to IT support for our clients. And, the list goes on.
Dave and Paul also reflected on how everything is urgent and how we are now expected to be available 24/7. It seems the whole world expects things to happen instantly, but this often comes at a cost to our mental health and to our productivity.
If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated because you’ve spent most of your day answering emails or torn between eating dinner with your family and taking that phone call from your client, then you could benefit from learning to master your technology better. It doesn’t have to master you.
“Technology isn’t leaving the workplace. And if anything, our lives will only continue to get more complex. Which is why it’s so important to start making steps now towards a balance that lets you get everything done without stress and within the time limit you want.”
(Quote from the RescueTime blog article Tech overuse at work is a symptom. Your culture is the disease: An interview with behavioral designer Nir Eyal Jory MacKay.)
Our top 5 tips for toning down your tech use
1. You have the power to switch off. When you need some distraction-free time, turn your phone to silent or turn off your pop-up notifications. Better still, go through all the apps you don’t use often and delete them. Most people don’t bother changing the notification settings on their apps, but you do have that choice. Use it wisely.
2. Block in some ‘communication time’ in your calendar. If you start your day by checking your inbox, you’ll be in reaction mode for the rest of the day. You don’t have to reply to every message as they pop up. Instead, allocate specific times (such as 10 to 11 am) to answer your messages in order of priority. Then, at the end of that time, STOP and go back to the work you are supposed to be doing. The world is unlikely to come to an end if someone has to wait a few hours for your reply.
3. Manage other people’s expectations of your time. If you always reply immediately to all your messages, then people will expect that of you. However, if you consistently get back to them within a reasonable time frame, they will soon get used to that, too. It’s also a good idea to ask your team and clients what their expectations of you are. There might be good reasons why they need an answer urgently (especially if there is lots of money and a short deadline involved), but, on the other hand, they might have just thought about something and dashed off a question to you without respecting your time.
4. Plan your day well. While you don’t need to know what you’ll be doing on a Thursday afternoon in 6-months’ time, it is a good idea to block out your main uses of time in detail on your calendar each week. If you know that you have set tasks or activities planned for each day, then they need to be your focus for the day. Everything else can fit around them. Otherwise, if you allow your day to fill with unplanned ‘stuff’, the big tasks won’t get completed.
5. Don’t communicate when you commute. Ok, if you have humans in the flesh around you, then, of course, you can talk with them. But …. try to avoid making or taking calls or messages when you are on the way to or from work (especially if you are driving). If you are thinking about your conversation then you are not paying full attention to what’s going on around you. Even if you are not driving, try just observing the things that you see from the train or along the street without judgement. Giving yourself a little bit of mental ‘time out’ each day can greatly reduce your stress levels and improve your focus. Try it and see what happens.
Technology is a wonderful gift that enhances our life in many ways, but it doesn’t have to rule it. We get to decide when and how it can best serve us. Never forget that.
You may also like our articles Do you really need work/life balance? and Breaking the silence around mental health in accounting.
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Many of the themes in this article came from Episode 59, The Trials and Tribulations of Technology, presented by Paul Meissner and David Boyer. Paul & David are passionate CA's who care deeply about the accounting industry.
Paul quit his accounting day job seven years ago and now owns and runs the Melbourne-based firm, 5ways Group Chartered Accountants, and his online Freedom Accounting System firm which allows him to travel and work from anywhere.
For the last 4 years, David has worked as a Virtual CFO. At the start of 2016 he co-founded the Virtual CFO Association and in December 2016 his company, Sequel VCFO began franchising to mobilise the experienced work force of accountants in industry and bring their expertise to SMEs.
Together with their impressive list of guest presenters, Paul and David are the brave souls needed to fight through the noise and give accountants in practice the support and information they deserve.
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