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Does your cell phone help or hurt your work life balance?

After wrapping up some meetings this morning, I jumped in my car to drive back to my office. 

I started my car.  I pulled out of my parking space.  What do you think I did next?

Yup.  Without even thinking... I grabbed my phone to check my voice mail and my e-mail.  (Sound familiar?)

But... for some reason... this morning... I stopped. Text_1

I just looked at my phone, almost like I wondered how it got in my hand.  Can you relate?

I mean... I didn't even remember grabbing the thing.  But... there it was. 

It was like urban-jungle instinct.  I didn't have to think about it.  I just did it.

Get in car... check voice mail.  Stop at a stop light... check e-mail. 

It's almost like there is an unwritten mantra that says "Spare time = check in."

Is this a bad thing?  Maybe... maybe not. 

I'm just wondering if it becomes bad when it becomes habit.  You know?

I don't mean to wax poetic here.  I don't want to just point back to simpler times while playing the theme song to the Andy Griffith show

But... in that moment this morning... it struck me.  I have a new habit.  Grabbing that phone and "checking things" is just what I do several times a day. 

And I'll admit that sometimes... it's when I need to... but many times... it's when I don't.  Can you relate?

I will even admit that I can be tempted by my "habit" after hours or when I'm with my family. 

Oh... you know... that quick check of e-mail just to make sure there isn't a crisis or a tidal wave to deal with. 

But it's easy to get sucked in... isn't it?  And then... you're distracted for a few minutes... or sometimes... a few hours. 

And the "habit" causes you to miss stuff.  Sometimes it's a morning sunrise and sometimes it's a conversation with someone important.

So... have I sworn off checking voice mail or e-mail?  Nope.

But... here's what I came up with.

Before I dive into my handy technology... I'm going to ask myself a simple question.

"Am I doing this because I need to?  Or am I doing this out of habit?"

It may not be a perfect system... but I'm betting that it'll help me see a few more sunrises and have a few more conversations about super heroes with my kids.  And today... that's good enough for me. 

How about you? 

Does technology help you balance your life... or does it get in the way?  What boundaries work for you?

Click comments and join in the conversation.

If you want to find out more about the subject of work/life balance and mobile phones, check out Peter Suciu's recent post. Click here.

Photo Credit: dewayne


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Hey I'm the same way with Reese's Cups - "How'd THIS get in my hand??" Seriously, I am perfectly happy to let my cell phone sit for days without use. The only problem it has caused in "work life balance" is that others in my family expect me to have it on, even if *I* want to use it for emergencies only. That said, I absolutely, completely addicted to email. If I wasn't too cheap to pay for a hand-held device that would allow me to check it (i.e., enabled phone), I'd be checking it at stoplights just like you. As it is, I check it way too often whenever there is a computer nearby - which is all day working and all evening at home. *sigh*

Janet -

You made me laugh out loud!

Love it!

And yes... I'm addicted to e-mail too. But I thought I was strong enough to over-power that addiction when I got my e-mail enabled phone.

I was wrong.

But... I'm trying to get better.

From one addict to another though... keep the e-mail to your computer. Seriously.

It's got enough power when it's tied to your desk. You don't want that thing following you to the coffee shop or the mall! Geeeesch! You'd NEVER be able to escape it!

Okay. I'm going to go take a Reese Cup break now. How about you?

Yep... I can relate! My problem is that I check e-mail on the phone and then go back to the office only to check the same e-mail.

I'm thinking of only checking e-mail if I know I'm not going back to the office.

Of course... it only sounds good until I can make that a habit.

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