Those Mobile Devices We Love & Hate

© 2012 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
President, Ministry Business Services, Inc.
Reprinted from Houston CO+OP 

The mobile devices we use– smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers– are an integral part of our everyday life.  They make us more efficient and productive, for which we’re grateful, and some of their apps are even fun and entertaining!  Unmanaged, however, they can take over our lives and make us want to escape them.  So, then, how do we manage them so they retain their status as a blessing?

Back in The Day…
There was a day some of us remember when personal computers didn’t exist.  When the concept of the personal computer began to emerge in the early 1980s, I remember asking, “Who would want their own computer!!?  And who could afford that!?”  I had no idea…

Now the personal desktop computer has evolved into the notebook (an updated term for laptop) computer.  The kitchen princess wall phone has evolved into the smartphone.  And my paperback book has evolved into a tablet.  And it is, as they say, all good!  I love all this technology!  On my vacation breaks I still work on and use these techno-wonders, much to my family’s amazement!  I really do love ’em!

Setting Up Boundaries
Okay, true confession time.  I usually sleep with my smartphone at my bedside, and often sleep with my iPad under my pillow.  That way if I wake up with an idea or can’t sleep, they’re right there with me!  My wife thinks I’m weird and wonders if she should be concerned.

Here’s the deal.  I look at using technology two ways, or better said, put using technology into two compartments: work and personal.  I try to limit my work usage to work hours and my personal usage into non-work hours.  The work-related boundaries are very important:

  • When at work, I need to be a good employee.  That means focusing on work rather than on personal matters and being very efficient and productive.  It means not doing Facebook, YouTube, etc at work unless I’m on a break.
  • I also need to confine my work-related usage to work hours so that I get the rest and refreshment I need.  The Lord, knowing how we were made and what our limitations are prescribed a day of rest in the Ten Commandments to help us stay healthy.  Time that is truly off from work is also essential to the relationships I have with my family, friends, and neighbors.

Blurring the Boundaries
When I’m off work I do my best to ignore work-related email.  But they come into my Outlook Inbox, and that’s the same place I go to read my personal email.  It is challenging to not respond to work-related email.  But to help me, here’s a little trick I use:

  • I’ve created a folder in Outlook called Cabinet.  I think of it like a filing cabinet with drawers.  In, or below that folder I’ve created additional folders (filing cabinet drawers) for work, personal, and other types of email.
  • When an email hits my Inbox I quickly do one of three things:
    1. Respond (including the original email) and then delete the original email,
    2. Move it to another folder (drag and drop), like to my work folder, or
    3. Delete it if it’s something I don’t care about and that I will not be responding to.

That means my Inbox is usually empty, which helps me to not feel pressured to respond to work-related email when I’m off of work!  I don’t see them in my Inbox when managing personal email, so they don’t pressure me!  And because I do these in my smartphone and tablet too, I really do get to take time off.

I love technology and all of my techno-toys.  I work in a field that would probably be my hobby if it wasn’t my job, so that means I really enjoy what I do!  And I do it for Christian churches and ministries, so it has even more meaning.  Win-Win-Win!  Maybe that’s why I sleep with my iPad and next to my smartphone…

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