How Technology Could Help Entrepreneurs Balance Family and Work
Technology is convenient. It gives entrepreneurs the access to work anytime, and from anywhere.
With all the perks technology has, it also can play on your anxiety as a business owner to grow your business, keep your family together and make a truckload of money. Technology also makes your insecurities obvious and makes you bound to your work more than you would want to.
According to several pieces of research conducted on how technology affects businesses and family lives of an entrepreneur, it has indicated that most business owners use their technological devices outside the regular business hours. In fact, most put in over 13 hours a day of work, this has only been made possible by the use of technology.
It was also revealed that business owners don’t put in these extra hours on their volition, they do so because they are compelled to, and smart devices make it very easy to achieve this feat.
For most business owners questioned, using a smart device makes them look dedicated and responsive. Smart devices make it so easy to answer emails almost immediately. It has become a competition to be the first to respond to a group email.
Meanwhile, business partners, companies and prospective clients see this as progressive and are always asking for more, pushing you further into the deep hole technology has created.
People not only expect business owners to be available at all hours, but they also fill their nine-to-five with requests, meetings, inboxes filled with emails, because they think ‘why, not?’
There is no limit to the time people have on their hands when it comes to working. Right now, people are working tirelessly trying to build and sustain their businesses, while ignoring the huge gap it creates between them and their families.
Switching off your devices when at home is the best way to put technology in its place. If you are one to always reply emails instead of spending time with family then switching off your devices wouldn’t be a bad idea altogether.
Business owners, also exploit their employees by tying them to their work. Devaluing their time because it is no longer finite. This has made inefficiencies so glaring and uncontrollable throughout business structures.
Most business owners are getting more aware of the disastrous effect of technology and how it causes a poorly balanced relationship between work and family.
Many have tried to address this issues by treating inboxes effectively, trying to turn off email notifications after office hours or during family time. These are nice fixes, but it ignores the most important factor; the human factor.
Human anxiety and the wish to protect their businesses and be competitive makes them vulnerable enough to disregard these rules.
The best approach is to use the same technology that complicates the lives of entrepreneurs to relieve the pressure, stress and anxiety felt. Here are a few fixes to help curb and salvage the influence of technology on balancing family and work.
Let technology work for you and not take you over
Virgin CEO, Richard Branson has a habit of using technology to contour his busy life. Apart from organizing meetings and making phone calls, Branson uses email reminders, mobile reminders and mobile calendars to help him organize his life.
“You can also use these things to make sure you have time to eat regularly and that you can get a good sleep. My family is the center of my life, so wherever I am in the world, when I have a few minutes, I talk to my wife and kids.” — Richard Branson.
Set a strict limit on Reply All
Almost all work emails are cluttered with Reply All. These are messages sent to a lot of people with back, and forth replies that copies everyone. You might be interested in seeing the first message, but responses are not very important.
Most of your employees use Reply All as a means to position themselves politically, trying to look good with the ‘yeah, you are right’, ‘of course’ and so on responses. Some even hijack such messages to pitch their projects or give suggestions meant for office meetings.
A valid solution to this is to restrict the use of reply all. You can purge your distribution list and also set a limit of those that can get a Reply All message. The great news is that a simple app or software can help you do this effectively, giving you more time with your family after work, during the weekend or holidays.
Force senders to prioritize
Although Reply All are huge problems, you need to remember that not all emails need a response or are very important. Sometimes you might waste your time trying to analyze which email to respond to.
Microsoft Outlook provides a real solution to this. It helps senders label each email according to response status; requiring a response, for your information or no response necessary and so on. Outlook also gives a sender the ability to include a reminder telling the receiver (you) how quickly they need a response. This helps you save a lot of time.
It is also best to tell your staff never to exaggerate the priorities of their emails. They should only send a reminder only if it is very important. Simply telling people to label their notes appropriately might not be the solution.
However, you can get a program to fix that for you to ensure priority field before an email is sent. It works the same way an email won’t be sent without an email address.
Put all notes on hold
Another advantage of coding emails is it can help you restrict your email traffic to your smart devices after office hours, giving you time to bond with your family.
For instance, there is a software that could specify that emails be coded as ‘instant response needed’. Emails from specific addresses can only have access to your smartphone or other devices after official office hours.
Other emails have to wait until you get to your office computer. This helps you address only issues that are important, and you wouldn’t be pulled away from your family except in emergencies.
Purge meeting bloat (and schedules)
Another reason you might latch on to your devices during family time could be due to an over-scheduled day of meetings, and you find out you still have a lot to do after working hours. Technology can also help you deal with that effectively.
You can use a calendaring system, such as those built into Outlook. They give you enough time to have work done in between meetings. For instance, you can set up your calendar, hence you don’t have more than five hours of meeting per day. You can then have three hours in between so you can do your work.
You can also handle only crucial meeting and leave the rest to trained personnel.
Technology doesn’t change the fact that as humans we have become hyper-responsive over time. Even as technology increases anxiety, stress and insecurities, you can still use technology to fight off the negativities of technology — while sparing time for you to have a proper balance between family and work.
With softwares and programs to prevent time wasting, you and your business can be more productive while having enough time with your family.