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I heard an interview with Sprot School of Business Professor Linda Duxbury on the CBC Radio One programme Spark that identifies some useful strategies for maintaining time for life rather than always being tied to work via IT. The main focus was on handling e-mail & smartphone IT to achieve better work-life balance.

Listen to this interesting short interview at http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Spark/Full+Episodes/ID/2392874419/ [begins at the 41 minute mark].

Professor Duxbury has carried out longitudinal research on the working lives of Canadians since 1991. The most recent study report published in 2012 includes such problematic findings as the fact that many workers spend up to 3 hours/day on e-mail, leaving little or no time for creativity, innovation, or learning. Sixty percent of research study respondents say that they are expected to be available to their supervisors 24/7 by means of IT. Duxbury argues that these are completely unfair expectations on the part of senior leadership.

During the course of the short interview Duxbury recommended strategies such as:

  • Don’t take work with you on vacation & do not check e-mail or smartphone while not at work
  • Use an e-mail notification that you are away for x amount of time &, because you plan to delete your inbox upon your return, ask correspondents to e-mail you again after you get back to work
  • plan for your absence; delegate a colleague & notify all about who will be covering your responsibilities for emergencies while you are on vacation [I have e-mailed Dr. Duxbury while she was on holiday & this gambit works perfectly!]
  • don’t let the urgent interfere with the important
  • plan properly for pre-meeting communications by giving participants ample time to read relevant documents. Don’t let poor meeting planning burden participants with a late e-mail forcing them into unnecessary homework in order to be ready for a meeting tomorrow.

Also see a summary of the most recent research report on-line: Linda Duxbury & Christopher Higgins, Revisiting Work-Life Issues in Canada: The 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada, Ottawa: Carleton University & the University of Western Ontario, 2012 http://newsroom.carleton.ca/wp-content/files/2012-National-Work-Long-Summary.pdf (accessed 22 December 2013).

Relevant previous blog posts include Drowining! IT Time Sink Managed With Email Charter & Smartphones & Unpaid Overtime.