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Monday on the blog I talked about how I’d divide and conquer if I were to clone myself. Today, WordPress prompts me to another solution for some of what ails me by asking:

If you could un-invent something, what would it be? Discuss why, potential repercussions, or a possible alternative.

Easy. I’d un-invent my Blackberry.

Ahh. That’s better!

I both love and hate it, but saw this prompt in the morning right before leaving for work …. The second time. And it’s what immediately sprung to mind. So I figure that should say something, right? I love my Blackberry because it helps me multitask between work and home. Like this morning, I had to return home and so was running a bit late but no worries! I just whipped out my berry and let work know. I AM more efficient with a Blackberry and need it for the job I have. If I am covering meetings and need to report back, or there are items that need doing while I am at the meeting that I can quickly do, Blackberry’s are gold. But I also hate my Blackberry because it lets me multitask between work and home.

Monkey see, monkey do...

Monkey see, monkey do…

If I let it, it’s the forever tether to the office. Heck, there’s been times where I’ve finished something up via Blackberry while cooking dinner or pulled over to the side of the road on the drive home to provide the answer needed to move something along. I don’t need studies to tell me this isn’t the … healthiest of life choices in the quest for work-life balance. But in case you do, studies indicate this isn’t good for reducing work-life conflict. One I read from 2008 used a term I’ll never forget: Guerrilla tele-work. The idea being that these devices, while they can be used to facilitate balancing work and home life, can also lead to the exact opposite result. The expectation becomes that you are forever “on the job”. Indeed, a 2008 study looking at the link between guerrilla tele-work and work-life conflict found:

…employees who engage in this strategy report higher levels of role overload, work-to-family interference and family-to-work interference.

The academics also point out that, to a large extent, we do it to ourselves. As Chris Higgins, a professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business said in a 2007 Globe and Mail article:

I don’t think organizations are the problem any more. It’s us … we just can’t say no. … We have got ourselves into a cycle of just doing more and more, so just saying no is the thing.

The article does point out that saying no comes at a cost, possibly of job advancement, but that if you want balance you have to be willing to give a little bit.

That said, it then went on to say that recent graduates entering the work force are putting a higher premium on work-life balance, learning to “turn it off” and so will put pressure on employers to be more accommodating and tip the scale more in favour of lifestyle considerations over the course of the next decade.

Seven years out from that article, I’m not sure that’s happening in my field, but I will say I’ve started getting better in recent years at “turning it off”.

However sometimes I need a reminder – like today’s prompt.

Which prompts me to un-invent my Blackberry.

Possible repercussions and alternatives?

More time focussed on my family. A clearer disconnect between work and home.

That balance thing for which I continually strive. What about you? What would you uninvent if you could?