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Work/Life/Balance: Power Down

By Todd J. Wonders, Technology Manager & Jeff D. Geiner, Member Services Coordinator


Sometimes, to unplug you have to really unplug. The life of a planner is stressful enough without having to be tied to your phone all hours of the day, fielding phone calls, e-mails, and text messages. The good news is there are ways to simplify your mode of communication and organization without having to go into a total blackout.

Turn off notifications. We are a society that is being notified to death. Our tablets, phones, and desktops are constantly sending pop-ups, banners, and text messages for every trivial update and activity. Here’s your challenge—Go and shut them all off and don’t worry about what you’re missing. How many are you actually paying attention to right now anyway?

Pick one preferred online communication method. Having too many options can be too much of a good thing. Take communication for example. We have so many ways to get in touch with each other that it can get overwhelming trying to keep track of the last time you spoke to a colleague or client—and on what platform. Though it might sound more archaic than texting or IM’ing, e-mail is still one of the best options for storing, searching, and organizing messages as well as maintaining a robust contact database. Just be sure to backup the program to keep your history intact.

Give people a chance to respond. With the instant gratification of messaging, we often can become impatient waiting for a response. But treat it like you would a phone call—you wouldn’t bombard someone with eight calls in five minutes, so refrain from doing so via texting. Your blood pressure will thank you for it, too.

Enable do not disturb. If you haven’t discovered the magic of the “do not disturb” function on your phone yet, try it—now. This function allows you to keep your phone on without letting any calls or texts to go through at times you are occupied, or sleeping. You can configure the setting to automatically kick in and disable at preferred times, and you can download an app called “Groups” that lets you organize contacts into buckets that have permission to bypass the do not disturb function. It’s especially helpful for family members and important clients who you don’t want to miss.

Invest in project management software. Our favorite is Basecamp because it’s a web-based program that allows multiple users to update projects simultaneously and seamlessly. On one landing page you can see all the different open tasks and who is working on (or has completed) an agenda item. You can also create cards for future projects, so for example, if you plan three association meetings a year, everything can be organized well in advance with specific timelines for completion. Another great feature is that you can e-mail back and forth through the program, and also queue up notes to only be sent during business hours.