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How to Set Digital Boundaries with Your Job and Manage Your Time.

On the morning of January 21, 2020, while watching The Today Show, I was reminded of a significant shift in leadership. It’s digital leadership. Technology has brought us so many resources to support us in our work. At the same time, it has become a double-edged sword. Because of smartphones, we have the ability to be tied to our jobs 24/7. On the plus side, that allows us to respond quickly and access and share information in real-time. On the downside, 24/7 digital access creates situations where we are tied to our work 24/7 and can create undue stress and burnout.

As leaders, we need to be aware of the downside of digital access. We need to respect and protect both our work connected time and that of our employees and learn to set appropriate digital boundaries to protect personal time as well as support productive work time. 

NBC Senior Business Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle shared three great tips on the Today Show (January 21, 2020) for setting digital boundaries that I think are so important.

  1. Set “after office” hours. Establish those times in your personal time where you will not be responding to emails, messages, etc. Have automatic replies that let people know you are not available. Communicate those “after office” hours with your co-workers so they know that you are not connected during those set times. Of course, we understand there are emergencies. But, it is a healthy practice to protect and respect your time. Being clear about your digital boundaries with yourself and with your co-workers is an important step.
  2. Plan your vacation time. We have just come off a nice winter break. I bet nearly every person checked into work in some fashion. When you are on break, it can be hard to not respond or check-in. That’s okay, but set a designated time that you will check-in and stick to it.
  3. Ask yourself, “Can this wait?”. Ask yourself before you respond, if it is something that can wait until you are back in the office. Communicate that you have received information and will reply when back in the office as people need to know their request was received. But, don’t feel the urgency to respond, if something can truly wait. It’s okay.

You can see the four-minute clip on setting digital boundaries on Today.

By Cathy Jones Park