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Technology - Simplifying our lives or pushing us to our limits?

Although the convenience of modern technology has simplified our lives on many levels, it has increased the pace of work and life, creating additional stress on how, when and where we do what we do. It's easy to see just how soon we can reach our threshold as it can all get to be too much.

I love technology and pride my self on the fact that I can easily maneuver the operations of just about any electronic gadget without reading the instructions. I spent 22 years, half of my life, working for IBM, a household name in the technology industry. After leaving as a Vice President and launching my own Life and Career coaching business, I'm hearing a very common message from my clients which should be cause for concern.People are simply burnt out. There just aren't enough hours in the day to tackle the constant demands of life and work. Perhaps, the expectations have become too high.

Armed with our wireless internet connections, laptops, PDA's, cell phones and blackberries, we can't seem to ever get away from work. The expectation seems to be set that we are "on demand" all the time. The boundaries between life and work have become very blurred. While we can work when and wherever we want, we should all heed caution as our society is headed towards increased numbers of people suffering from depression and plain old burn out. In the end, we only have ourselves to blame. Each of us has to be accountable for our own choices and the consequences of those choices. We have to know when to take a stand and say, enough is enough!

If I sound emphatic about this issue, I am. For, I was once the poster girl of success. Had it all, according to others perceptions. In September of 2002, the demands of my work and personal lives became overwhelming and every facet of my life was out of control. Dealing with a teenage daughter with a substance abuse problem, an inattentive marriage headed for the rocks, a terminally ill father, a demanding job, and a blood disorder that I didn't even know I was battling, it was more than I could handle. I sunk into deep depression and hit rock bottom. I lost all hope and attempted to take my own life by sitting in my car with the engine running in my closed garage. It was certainly the most defining moment of my entire life. I shut the engine off, reached out for help and re-examined my life. It was time to make some radical changes.

During the course of my journey to reclaim my soul and take responsibility and accountability for my own choices, I decided to stop trying to live up to everyone else's expectations or perceptions of me. We each have to define success for ourselves and ensure that it is not in conflict with our core values, regardless of what society may dictate. In my latest book,Reclaiming My soul from the Lost and Found, I share the very personal journey that took me from great personal and professional triumph to absolute anguish and my desperate attempt to save my daughter's - and my own - life. I reveal the decisions and actions that not only led me to lose sight of my own soul, but that also allowed me to heal and reclaim my spirit, my family, and myself. Shared are the ten guiding principles to finding synergy and harmony between life and work. A few tips to ensure the use of technology simplifies your life instead of complicating it are:

1) Set clear boundaries between work time and personal/family time. Particularly, if you work from home, exclusively or occasionally. Don't let the ease of using technology, cell phones or email intrude on your personal time. The convenience of "working" on demand can easily set the expectation that you are always available. Don't let yourself fall into this trap. Set clear expectations with family members and colleagues. Be careful of the perceptions you leave with family members when you seem to be tied to a computer or cell phone all the time. While I thought I was doing my kids a favor by being at home while I worked. Because I had no clear boundaries, their perception was that I worked all the time.

2) When you're on vacation - be on vacation. The company you work for won't fall apart because you're not there. Delegate and ensure you have a reliable backup to handle things in your absence. While it's easy to be assessable because of technology, you're doing yourself and your family or the people you're vacationing with a disservice if you allow this to happen. Vacations are a time for rest and relaxation, not work. Bare in mind, in the unfortunate event of your death, someone else would pick up the slack and the work will get done. One of the biggest blow ups with my family was while we were vacationing and their perception was I spent more time on conference calls and checking email than I did doing fun things with them.

3) Make time for yourself. Schedule your calendar to make sure you have sufficient hours for your own relaxation or the things you enjoy. Remember, you are the most important person in your own life. Whether it's a hobby, exercise, meditation or just reading, take time to enjoy your own company. Everyone needs some down time - that includes you! Take a risk, turn the computer and cell phone off. The world won't stop because you become unavailable for a little while.

Author: Lisa J. Whaley

textareaName: Lisa J. Whaley is President of Life Work Synergy, LLC and the author of Reclaiming My Soul from the Lost and Found. Visit, or to purchase her book.

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