Re-Balancing Work and Life

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By Jason Brandt (@Jasondmg3)

Pop quiz: What do you have in your pocket? What do you do first thing in the morning? What do you do last thing at night? Modern technology is breathtaking, and nobody thinks so more than us. Zemogas lifeblood is the miracle of digital abilities. We do amazing stuff and were very proud of it. But when you stop using technology as a tool and you start planning your life around it, thats when it stops being useful and it starts being a stumbling block.

When you check your email and Tweetstream from your bed; when you get twitchy on vacation because your Blackberry is in the beach bag and you cant feel it vibrate; when you cant get through an entire meal or movie or conversation without checking something electronic – when you cant move or think without technology, thats when your devices are not helping your life; theyre running it.

In the Pharma industry, this can be particularly prevalent. We use the excuses of PDUFA dates and an unpredictable FDA, or our internal review committees, or our newly downsized teams and upsized workloads, to reason that we simply must be connected every moment of every day – weekends, holidays and evenings be damned.

You may feel like this makes you a particularly productive and dedicated employee. In truth, though, youre just burning yourself out. And in this economy and at this time of year, you just cant afford to do that. The fall meeting calendar is full of physician conferences and social media conferences, wrapping up 2011 planning, and all the rest. You need to get this fixed. So here are a few tips for how to keep your technology in check and improve the balance of your life:

Manage your news. Heres a bit of heresy for you: you do not need to read every article from every industry outlet every day. Figure out which outlets serve your needs best – maybe a combination of an industry aggregation, and some specialty information. Ed Silvermans Pharmalot does a wonderful job of the former – and humbly, wed like to submit our little blog for consideration for the latter speciality.

Manage your email. How many newsletters do you subscribe to? How many email lists are you on? How many groups have you asked to be added to for fear that you might miss something? Youve got to accept that youre going to miss things. Many things. Accept. Then, look at your emails critically. Figure out which subscriptions regularly provide something useful to you, and get rid of the rest. Whenever possible, answer questions in person, over the phone, or on IM rather than with another email. “Reply All only under duress. Investigate the wonderful concept known as “Inbox Zero. Embrace it.

Manage your hours of operation. You do not need to work at night and on the weekend in order to do your job. Truly, you dont. If you have been working that way, either youre not good at doing your job, or your boss is not good at doing his or her job. Either way, its untenable.

Re-introduce yourself to fun. What was the last thing you did that took you completely away from work – from your office, from your email, from your Blackberry, from your cell phone? Start making this better. Take the kids for a walk in the woods. Bring the dog to the dog park. Go for a run with empty pockets.

In sum, stop driving yourself crazy and pay more attention to the world around you. First of all, its pretty great, and second of all, doing so will make you a better worker anyway. Youll be able to think more quickly, more deeply, and more creatively than ever before. So give some thought to how your life is balanced right now, and tweak the scales – I think youll be glad you did.

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