It was 7:45 on a Tuesday evening. I was sitting in my living room having a good evening with my kids. One just finished reading her 3rd grade reading assignment, and the 6th grader jumped up into my lap for a rare moment of cuddling.
Suddenly, a co-worker of mine walked through the front door, and told me he intended to rewrite the report I had just submitted. The data was just too weak to pass on to the rest of the team. He turned and left.
The rest of my evening was ruined. I was cranky with the kids, short with my wife, and my mind was back at the office.
OK… it didn’t really happen quite like that. But I’ve had many evenings ruined, because I felt an obsessive need to check my email on my phone. It struck me that I was allowing work to “walk” into my living room at any time, because I let it.
So, I made the decision to turn off my work email on my iPhone when the work day was over. My smart-phone needed to be a little less smart.
I realize this can’t happen for everyone. But, it was the right thing for my family.
On the iPhone, I’m able to open my email settings and just flip a switch to turn it off. It makes it easy to turn it on again the next day. I know that a more self-controlled person could just not open the email app, when the evening hits. But I’m not that person.
What I’ve found is that it has not only made me a better dad, it has made me a better employee.
- When I get an email in a moment when I’m not in “work-mode”, my thought process can be irrational. I can often reply in a way that I regret later. Taking time at my desk to draft thoughtful responses makes the communication my co-workers receive far more valuable. When
- In an emergency, there are other ways to contact me. My team knows that they can text me if something blows up. I still have my phone with me. Email shouldn’t be my mechanism for emergency communication. I am easy to get ahold of when something goes wrong.
- Sitting at my desk (and using all five fingers to respond) tends to be far more professional that pounding out a response with my thumbs while sitting at a soccer game. My sentence structure is complete. My spelling is improved. My thoughts are thorough. I do a disservice to my team when I give them a distracted response to an important question.
- I am good about ignoring my family during an important business meeting. I should return the favor to my kids.
Have you had to take any steps to keep that balance in your life?