“Working 9 to 5, what a way to earn a living!”
I don’t know a single person with a 9-5 job. Not really. Not anymore.
The launch of the Blackberry saw the end to that about 15 years ago.
Back then I was working in IT for a fund management company. I often worked late, or started early, but when I wasn’t at work I wasn’t working! I didn’t have a laptop or a mobile phone. When I left work at night I would switch off my computer and head home. I’d spend time with my husband, we’d watch TV, eat food, talk, do stuff, go places.
If we had been told that within just a few years we would never be ‘disconnected’ from our work I don’t think we would have believed it.
When the first Blackberry appeared in the office we were all very excited! Be able to check emails away from the office? Wow!
To start with it was amazing! To be able to check my messages on the way in to the office so I could ‘hit the ground running’ was a game changer.
Then we started checking messages on the way home as well. Then we would promise to ‘check in later’ to see if our colleague in the US had any questions about the file we had sent them. Next we’d start flicking through emails on a Sunday night to get up to speed before the Monday madness. And then the Blackberry would go in the suitcase when we went on holiday. Just for emergencies though, we wouldn’t be checking in until we were on our way home. But maybe we’d check in mid week, just in case.
That was it. Evenings, weekends and even holidays violated within the space of a few months.
Email had already changed the way we worked. (Remember printed memo’s, in-trays and mailrooms?!) Mobile email changed our lives.
Now 76% of UK adults has a smartphone in their pocket, which come with a built in FOMO enhancer. Fear Of Missing Out has us checking these wee things over 200 times a day on average!
(You have probably checked yours at least twice so far while reading this post, to see what’s happening! I know I have…..)
So the 9 to 5 is gone. And I don’t think it will ever be back.
If you are an entrepreneur running your own business you probably never had a 9 to 5 in the first place.
And that’s OK. Working hard is OK.
But I believe most of us need to get better at disconnecting, and reconnecting with the world around us. Unplugging in order to recharge.
With our families, with our bodies, with our friends, with our environment. With ourselves.
We don’t need to do more, or do less.
We need to learn to do the thing we are doing, without stressing about the things we aren’t doing. And without checking for bloomin’ emails every 2 minutes in case there is something more important we should be doing.
The French passed a bill this week that could see companies which employ 50 or more people having to restrict employees ability to send and receive work emails outside of office hours.
But then what will happen? People will just switch to text messaging, Slack or another IM tool.
Email, after all, is only a communication tool. The after hours work culture would still be there.
So what is the answer to reclaiming our down-time?
Personally, I think the ‘secret’ of doing one thing at a time (work or play) comes from knowing what other ‘things’ you have to do, and accepting that you don’t need to do or think of them right now.
If I ‘know’ that I have all my projects and tasks captured in a system so that I can’t forget anything, then I can focus on whatever the task at hand is.
Just because you can check your email anywhere, should you? Do you have a system for how you deal with your email?
Does scanning your email for urgent messages help you at all? What do you do with all the non-urgent messages now that you have opened all those loops in your wee head from just skimming through your email while waiting for your turn to order in the coffee shop?
If you are doing the accounts, talking to your partner over dinner, or even just watching a movie – wouldn’t it be amazing to do just that one thing?
(And trust me, I doubt there is an email that is more important than talking to your partner over dinner.)
If you are checking your email every 2 minutes due to FOMO, you are probably scared to turn the blasted thing off!
But I can (almost) guarantee the world won’t end if you wait till after dinner to check your messages 😃