I don’t know about you, but I love my smartphone.
It’s my way of connecting with both the people I hardly ever see, and the people I see every day. There’s something thrilling about being able to send and receive messages so quickly– even after having done so literally thousands of times, the magic of this type of connection hasn’t faded. But sometimes, it can get overwhelming to be the recipient of so much information; there’s a level of responsibility associated with it that makes me feel I must be “on” at all times, day or night, no matter where I am. And as a small-business owner, this mindset can make “tuning out” really tricky, even for a simple weekend or a day trip away from home.
When you’re self-employed, unplugging can be one of the most difficult things to accomplish.
Even during a regular work day at home, much less on the road. But in each setting, there is one thing that can help you achieve work-life balance: setting your expectations for technology usage and personal availability ahead of time.
There’s a wide range for how much a self-employed individual might want to “cut the cord,” so to speak, during their time off. It’s one thing to vow not to check email when you’re out of town, but it’s quite another to swear off your phone entirely. Regardless of what you decide, the key element to having a relaxing and fulfilling getaway is to establish boundaries regarding your connectivity before you set off on your day trip, not during it. This is easier said than done.
How many of us catch ourselves checking our phones twice in the span of five minutes (me) just in case?
Or fighting hell and high water for a wifi password (also me) only to scroll through emails “in case we missed something” that may have come through in the last half hour? The propensity to rely on our technology to provide us with that safety blanket effect — “oh good, I have 3G, people can still reach me!”– is definitely there. But putting some parameters on it is essential. Some useful questions to ask yourself before you go– “How often do I REALLY need to check how well my social media pages are performing?” Or, “Can this project wait until the end of the week/the start of next week?” — can help immensely in determining what is a priority, and what is just you being over-engaged with your work via your device.
Now, no one is suggesting you should be so hardcore as to totally ditch your phone, laptop, or iPad for the duration of your “me-time”. After all, we still use these devices as alarm clocks, books, cameras, and so much more, even as we aren’t communicating with anyone.
Hopefully by establishing some guidelines right off the bat about how often and how much you want to tune in on your time off, you’ll have an easier time of distinguishing when enough is enough, so you can make the most of your downtime– without having your attention drawn from the scenery into a little fluorescent screen.