Don’t be too accessible. The more you do, the more people will want your time. This is not a bad thing! But your best approach is to select what’s most important in your schedule and do these things. Be sure to guard personal time to rest and be with family, too. Not being accessible 24/7 means means you can available to those who need you and to those with whom you choose to spend time. Consider what you can gain by being less accessible in an effort to have periods of rest or focus!
The nature of my work is online, so people are often surprised to hear me say that I am just as committed to connecting to people locally. I’m part of a small group of married couples in my local church, we have regular gatherings with family members who live nearby, and I volunteer in my children’s school.
In order to maintain a focus on being fully present locally and being intentional about the times I’m engaged in social media, I recently tried an experiment with great results. Amazingly, while sorting out how best to use social media was helpful, the biggest benefit to maximizing the 24 hours I have each day came when I brainstormed a few ideas on how to be accessible … but not on all hours of the day.
- When I’m contacted using Facebook message or Direct Message, I redirect as much as I can to my email inbox. Doing this means I keep track of conversations more easily, confirms I’ll not lose the conversation among spammy messages, and eliminates the need for checking social media inboxes often. (No one wants extra inboxes to check.)
- Avoid checking work email during non-working hours. When I’m working, I’m fully present and all-in. When I’m not working, I unplug to the best of my abilities. (This is not easy. But it’s a powerful choice that can bring you great rest that provides better focus.)
- Put your phone away in the evenings so you can make eye contact with friends or family. Use the Do Not Disturb feature that allows only your favorite contacts’ calls to get through, designating only those who might contact you with an emergency as your favorite contacts, naturally.
- If you have a work email account and a personal email account, try not replying to emails in your personal inbox every day. Typically checking every other day with the most attention given on a weekend is enough for me. It’s taken a few months to feel comfortable doing this, but since I’ve taken a full time job and choose to be less accessible, I’ve found that nearly nothing requires immediate attention in my personal email inbox.
- Take initiative. Sometimes taking a moment to check in on others who might contact you at a time you’ll not be available means you have a nice chat at a time that works for both of you. I like the idea of being spontaneous with this approach, but I’m not very good at it. I tried this recently and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. My less creative (though probably as effective) idea is to schedule regular calls with this friend so we can stay in touch but do so at a time that doesn’t detract from either of us being with our families.
Being unavailable for a period of time doesn’t mean you don’t care about your team.
Limiting your accessability doesn’t mean you’re not transparent or hard-working.
Going off the radar in the evenings or on a few days off work each week in no way communicates a lack of commitment.
We want to be available to help others, but being too accessible means running the high risk of cutting into productive work time or restful personal time. What do you do to guard your time and schedule?