All This Connectivity Is Killing Us

We're Draining the Human Batteries

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Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
I was out with a client the other night, and asked him how's he's doing. He said he'd just come back from Spring Break and was exhausted. Not from being on vacation. Instead, from never really leaving the office, regardless of where in the world he was vacationing. I've been hearing this a lot lately, from a wide range of executives.

In business today, the reality is that we are almost always "on." Our cell phones are on. Our wireless devices are on. Our laptops are on. That means we are always on. There seems to be an expectation that business is never off anymore. Not after dinner. Not on Saturday or Sunday. Or holidays. Where was it written that if you have a thought, it should be communicated right then and there to the recipient? What that means in our industry is that when our clients have an idea, or a request, they reach out to us. When an account supervisor has a question for the creative team, the e-mail (or call) goes out at any hour. And we all feel compelled to respond right away.

It's part electronic addiction, part passion to succeed. Hey, I can relate. I love being able to communicate a thought when I think of it. It certainly drives business at a faster pace. And I'm a fan of getting things done vs. having meetings to talk about getting things done. But the 24/7 connectivity takes its toll after a while. And I believe that's what theses colleagues of mine were reacting to.

The advertising business, in particular, drives us harder than most industries. If being on -- from the time we wake until the time we go to sleep -- hasn't already taken its toll on us, it will. So what can we do about it? I propose a few reality checks:
  • When you take a vacation, take a real vacation. Let people know that you won't have e-mail or cell phone access (even if you know you will -- this way, there are zero expectations of a quick response from you). Our bodies need time to refuel and recharge. When you're in the idea business, being fresh, wiping the mental slate clean, is of obvious importance.

  • Turn the vibrate option off on your devices after hours, so you don't know when a call or e-mail comes in, and feel compelled to answer.

  • Hit the gym in the morning or after work. It's hard to return calls and write e-mails when you're doing lat pull-downs.

  • Just say "no." Your body and mind won't take a daily pummeling if you don't allow it. Train those you do business with to expect a reply in 24 hours, not 24 seconds.
Now go and get some rest!
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