Sunday, February 6, 2011

E-Gadgets and work-life balance

Last week SCOTUS Justice Sotomayor told a group of U. Chicago law students that achieving a good work-life balance means occasionally unplugging and "chilling" with friends.   This article from today's New York Times furthers that message by describing the ways in which mobile e-devices have affected the work-life balance.  The good news is that these devices give us more flexibility than ever before by allowing us to do work anytime, anyplace.  Unfortunately, that's the bad news too.  

John Lilly, the former chief executive of Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser, recently pondered publicly what it meant to be so connected and decided to initiate a temporary reprieve.

Mr. Lilly is by choice and necessity a power user of multiple gadgets and social media. As he prepared for his new role as a venture partner at Greylock Partners, the Silicon Valley investment firm, he announced on his blog that he was taking time 'to be a little more generative, to think bigger, more original thoughts.'

He said he would turn off Google Reader, Twitter and Facebook. 'I’m really excited to have a bit of time to start 2011 to slow down, try to think longer term, and to slow down my clock,' he wrote.

. . . .

Since he has slowed down, he says, 'I probably feel less twitchy — I don’t feel the need to check e-mail and Twitter feeds every five minutes.'

'But I don’t like going days without it,' he adds. 'I like being in touch with my friends, seeing what they are doing. I think of Twitter as my peripheral vision.'

The good news about technology, he says, is you can be anywhere and still work. The bad news, he says, is that 'anywhere you are, you have to work.'

Too much connectivity can damage the quality of one’s work, says Robert Sutton, author of “Good Boss, Bad Boss” and a professor at Stanford. Because of devices, he says, “nobody seems to actually pay full attention; everybody is doing a worse job because they are doing more things.”

Mobile devices and social media, he says, 'make us a little more oblivious, a little more incompetent.' Just recall those pilots who overshot their destination two years ago because they were using computers, he adds.

You can read the rest here.


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