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The Illusion of Busyness

illusion of busyness perkspot culture

“I’m so swamped”
“Just trying to keep my head above water”

You may have uttered one of these phrases at some point this month, week or even just a few hours ago. But is it busyness that has us feeling overwhelmed or, like a mirage in the desert, is it merely an illusion?

Technology has advanced at such a rapid pace I wonder if we are really as busy as think or if we simply have an unhealthy relationship with time. In fact, I think deep down some of us like saying these phrases as if they somehow make us feel important or purposeful. Multi-tasking is no longer a skill that only the most successful possess, but something that inundates the ins and outs of our everyday lives. But while we may get things done when we multitask, we often neglect to do things well.  We find ourselves running around from one task to another all for the sake of feeling “busy”, but never really accomplishing anything. Priorities are out of line and our work begins to suffer.

So how do we dispel the illusion of busyness in our lives? Is it even possible?

First of all, breathe. I think many of us grab our coffee and sit in front of our inbox dreading the day to come. When we let the weight of our tasks overwhelm us, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Take a breath in the morning and spend time planning out your day. Prioritize tasks based on their importance and deadline. With a clear vision in front of us, the work will seem less monumental and more manageable.

Secondly, do something that you’re passionate about. We spend a lot of time just going through the motions of our days without focusing on the things that truly make us happy. If you’re truly passionate about your work (and I hope that you are!), spend time developing a new skill, read an educational book, or attend a seminar. These activities will renew your passion and keep you moving forward. If your passion lies outside your nine-to-five, jump into a cooking class, take photography lessons, or just spend time with your friends and family. Prioritizing our passions can refresh us and more importantly, give us purpose beyond our full agenda.

Remove the word “busy” from your vocabulary and start prioritizing. At the end of the day, you may not respond to every email in your inbox, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t productive.

Technology and the Office: Not Just for Silicon Valley

technology office work perks perkspot culture

When we think of company culture, words like “employee engagement”, “recognition” and “opportunity for growth” come to mind. But where does Technology rank when it comes to our values as an organization or company, and how is this affecting our employees?

As the CHRO of cloud-based finance and HR software Workday, Ashley Goldsmith, eloquently states, “We’ve found that you can’t create a culture just through values, new processes, or an organizational restructure. Those things are necessary, but we like to think of values as the beating heart of culture, processes and organizational structure as the brain, and technology as the nervous system that makes sure heart and head are working together to move us forward.”

Technology improves communication flow.

Cloud-based systems, video-conferencing software, and the like are paving the way for smoother communication in the workplace. The bonus is that many of these applications have free versions available. These tools enable employees to work smarter, not harder.

Technology fosters feedback.

Similar to improving communication, we use technology at PerkSpot to develop more ways to generate feedback, both internally and externally. We use platforms that allow our employees to respond to customer service issues quickly and efficiently. Meanwhile, internally, we use a system to monitor everything from typos on our site to larger kinks that need attention. In this way, we spend less time dealing with issues and more time finding solutions.

Technology encourages collaboration.

Messaging applications are great for encouraging collaboration amongst employees. While many feel that this constant communication decreases productivity, studies show that even when coworkers drift away from the task at hand, laughter shared helps promote creativity and innovation.

In the same way that the body cannot function properly without the nervous system, our offices cannot survive without technology.

What are some ways you use technology in your workplace? Leave us a note in the comments!

Vacation: How to Digital Detox Without Going Off-Grid

Vacation is for unplugging — right? According to this recent study, maybe not. Cloud networking company Pertino found that 59% of Americans check email and take work calls while on vacation. 35% even haul a hefty stack of their physical work files when they travel.

digital detox Umbrellas and Lanterns

Many of us travel with electronic devices but insist that we will only use them in case of emergency. Are we the victims of wishful thinking? This meQuilibrium survey found that 61% of us check our devices within an hour of an alert — email, text, social media, or otherwise. A colossal 73% report that their devices contribute to stress in their lives.

Americans are apparently not very good at unplugging, but this isn’t entirely our fault. It is increasingly difficult to find a destination without cellular coverage or internet access. One can now enjoy wifi hotspots on Mount Fuji and the backs of Israeli donkeys.

Social technology expert Alexandra Samuel suggests asking this question when planning your vacation: what’s the least amount of work connectivity I can get away with? Most of us can’t afford and/or lack the immense willpower to take a 25-day-no-exceptions-internet-hiatus. Answering this question will allow us to make a healthy break from technology without severing all lines of communication.

digital detox Hiking

Understanding the difference between your peers’ expectations and your own anxiety is key. Do you fear being out of the loop because your job depends on your ability to respond to every email ASAP, or do you simply strive for the proverbial Inbox Zero?

If you have upcoming travel plans but are anxious about powering down your devices, follow these tips for how to unplug without becoming disconnected:

Set shared expectations about tech use.

With your travel companions, make a list of the specific ways you want to use each of your devices and a schedule with time limits for each of your approved uses. You may agree that it’s okay to peruse email for 15 minutes at breakfast, but only acceptable to call into work in the event of a client emergency.

Have a smart out-of-office reply.

Include a secondary contact that your correspondents can reach if they need to, and let them know that you may not review every message you receive while traveling. Ask them to email you again if you don’t write back by X date after you return.

Buy a paperback.

Sure, e-readers are great, but chances are you won’t actually read more than a book or two while on vacation. Take this opportunity to enhance your memory with some deep reading and give your eyes a break from another screen.

Disable notifications.

They will only make it harder to stick with your technology schedule. Here are guides for turning off notifications on Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows.

Designate a gatekeeper.

Choose somebody you trust who has a strong understanding of your job, most likely your manager or a close peer. Set up a vacation email account and provide only them with the address. Now you can stay apprised of anything seriously urgent without having to sift through all of your other communications in your daily work inbox.

Plan ahead for reentry.

Make a list of all your open projects, where you’ve left off, and what needs to be done while you’re away. Whoever is standing in for you can track progress more effectively. Plus, you can hit the ground running when you return.

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