Ever felt your phone vibrate in your pocket only to pull it out and see it didn’t? They’re called phantom vibrations and researchers have actually started looking into what causes them (IUPUI Study). I know I have, and it comes from an emotional attachment to the ‘hit’ one gets from others texting or emailing you. This leads me to a confession: Hi. I’m Carl … and I’m addicted to my phone.

For those of us that have long since left behind the idea of ‘work’ taking place at one building between the hours of 8am and 5pm, our mobile devices can be a double-edged sword. I’ve been working from home for 5 years, which Avaya makes incredibly easy with all of our collaboration tools. Not only do I have an Avaya device on my desk at home that allows not only phone calls but video conferencing as well, I’ve got our suite of applications on my iPhone. I can take my work extension, voicemail, contacts, etc. with me wherever I go. Heck, I can walk down the street while on a video conference, swapping between the presentation and the video streams of the participants. However, it is important to remember that just because you CAN work anywhere anytime doesn’t mean you SHOULD. It’s about setting boundaries and making the most of the technology to balance our professional and personal lives.

For example, I might pick my kids up from school some days or take them to the doctor’s office if they are sick; during the summer I joined them at swimming lessons every Friday at 3:30pm. With all the collaboration options omnipresent in my pocket, I can stay available and accessible if something urgent comes up. The key is to pace yourself. Sure, when I take that hour off on a Friday, I make sure I make it up some other time in the week, ensuring I’m not short-changing my employer. The catch though, is not to over-compensate. If you put in your 10 “normal” hours, have dinner, put the kids to bed, and then spend another 3 hours on the laptop while in bed, you’re going to burn out. I know from experience.

I’m not just talking about phone calls and actions you complete using a MS Office application: social media is a big driver of mobile usage. I know that at any time, I can open up my Twitter or Facebook feed and get a hit of news. Some days I get so busy with life (can you imagine?!?) that I get 12-24 hours behind on social media and I have a compulsion that I have to get caught up. A lot of my Twitter content is Avaya-related, so I justify it as part of my job. It actually stresses me out when I have that kind of social media backlog. Tweetbot and I are TIGHT.

Then I saw this YouTube video come across my timeline last week. Please, give it a quick view; don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Life is about these hard trade-offs, so make sure you take the time to evaluate the decisions you are making to ensure they align with your life goals. So, I’m making a public challenge to YOU.

Unplug with me; for a week; 7 little days.

Ground rules: Outside the hours of 8am-5pm local time, on your mobile device(s):

  1. Turn off data-related access on your phone (web, text, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  2. Reading eBooks (Kindle, etc.) or articles (live web pages or cached stories via GetPocket) isn’t allowed
  3. Only use your phone for phone calls, music, and taking pictures (but sparingly)
  4. Share your progress via comments or images (during work hours and/or after our week is up) in your social media channel of choice with the hashtag #AvayaAfterHours

The challenge starts on Monday, September 9th. We’ll be looking for your progress on Social Media as well as in the comments below. If we receive some good lessons learned, I’ll post a retrospective with quotes and images you’ve provided.

Good luck and be strong.