Electronic tools are incredible. They can enhance communications, build relationships, and increase time effectiveness. Electronic tools can also replace true communication with information overload, damage relationships, and overwhelm our day. Electronic tools are vital and valuable, but they can also become vampires sucking our vital time and energy. Is it time you put them down or put on the screen saver and saved yourself?
Arianna Huffington is the founder of the online news site The Huffington Post. Last fall she was a speaker at the International Women in Digital Media Summit in my home region. She’s made millions with her wildly popular web site. It’s driven by a 24 hour instant news cycle and the immediacy of social media.
Arianna spoke of how she had to learn a very tough lesson on turning off her Blackberry and getting more sleep. “Three years ago, I fainted from exhaustion while at my desk. I broke my cheekbone and required stitches to my eye,” she related in her presentation. This sounds a lot like someone needing to survive a heart attack in order to change his or her lifestyle. We can either change or be changed.
She learned from this painful lesson to master her technology and regain control of her time and life. She’s no longer a slave to the messages, calls, and e-mails that create “a false sense of urgency in our lives.” Here’s her best piece of advice: “don’t live your life from your inbox. If you do, you’re just at the mercy of whatever’s coming at you.”
Arianna became a self-described sleep evangelist. She found her creativity, pro-activity, and wisdom increased. She now has staff nap rooms in her New York City newsroom.
I heartily agree on both counts. I used to think I was getting more done by cutting back on sleep and racing through jam-packed days. I’ve found that 7 – 7.5 hours sleep, 30 minute power-nap, (and morning aerobic exercise) does wonders for my energy and mental capacity.
And it’s way too easy to allow our technologies to take over our lives. Highly effective leaders manage IT tools to leverage their effectiveness and improve their communications. They don’t let the tools manage them.