Take Control of Your Devices: 3 Steps to Better Manage Your Time
There’s a lot to keep up with in terms of “devices” these days. Every time I turn around, something’s alerting me to check my email or text, update a particular app, see what’s happening with someone on Facebook, confirm a new online connection, listen to a voicemail, get the latest software…the “demands” never end! I bet you can relate. A lot of people, including leaders, are struggling with the vice of devices–or what’s otherwise known as the amount of time they’re spending in the black hole of these ever-evolving technologies. While these devices play a role in helping us stay connected personally and support us in a number of ways professionally, I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about how they struggle with time management in regard to their devices. Some leaders say they feel downright addicted to their Smartphones, iPhones, and other similar technologies. To their credit, striking a balance, in terms of when and how to use these devices, can be really tough and tricky. But it all comes back to this: You want to get control of these devices because if you don’t control them, they can control you.
Here are three steps to help you better manage your time with these technologies:
1. Track your use.
Pick an average day and note how long you spent using your various devices—and on what specifically, email, social media, games, apps, etc. Next, of that tracked time, explore how many of those minutes or hours contributed to your vital goals and how many didn’t. Of those activities, note what supported or added value to your life and/or work—and which activities didn’t. Don’t judge yourself here—just get the stats and note the facts.
2. Create reasonable limits.
I can’t define “reasonable” for you or anyone else because this will always be unique and subjective for each and every person. But if your habits around device usage are interfering with your personal or professional life (or both), set some goals around cutting back. This might mean reducing your social media activities from whenever you get an alert to several times a day, for example, just before work, only during lunch, and right before bedtime. Or, it might be putting off checking and answering emails until after 10 a.m. so you can spend your time doing other leadership activities that enable great engagement, such as managing by walking around, holding accountability meetings, working on projects you’ve been putting off, etc. Whatever choices you make, the key is to modify your habits so that, again, you’re in control of them, they’re not in control of you.
3. Fill free time with something else.
Interestingly, this is vital to cutting back on nonessential device time because one of the keys to making a new habit stick is to replace it with a new routine—or different habit. For example, if you’re making the conscientious decision to stop playing some online game (with a bunch of people you don’t even know), choose a new activity that supports something that adds greater value to your life or supports a personal or professional goal. Ultimately, when you try to adopt habits in your life that align with who you truly are, your vision of success, your goals, and your values, you’re going to feel more inspired to practice and sustain them.
What are some benefits to limiting device time at work?