Balancing Technology, Social Media and Life

By Bobby Umar

One of the things I pride myself on is finding balance in my life. I have always tried to leverage technology, but not become a ‘crackberry’ addict. I use social networking, but not to the point of sending Candy Crush (Ugh!) requests to all my friends or having my iPhone beside my bed. Lastly, I make time for my friends and family, creating memories and making the most of visits, events and weekends.

One of the biggest changes I dealt with was the year I got my first iPhone, launched a social media strategy for my business and started hiring interns to deal with my capacity to respond to all opportunities. Life in all areas got pretty hectic. Committing to growing a business, a large social network and two little kids was quite the challenge.  Heck, even with only a bi-monthly commitment, my newsletters often ended up sent almost four months after my previous ones.

Last summer, my family went away for a whole week to a camp. There was no Wi-Fi in our cabin and we were somewhat “roughing” it. Although I was glad to have good restroom facilities! I had planned to make the most of it, telling all my contacts across Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, etc. that I was pretty much GONE for the week.

But somehow, my little Apple wonder caught one or two dots of a 3G network. So I checked it once the first day. Do you know where this is going? Soon enough I was checking it several times per day and responding. I don’t know why I couldn’t let it go.

I had set my business up in such a way that I felt I needed to have a daily online presence (especially because of Twitter and Klout). I became the joke that I once teased others about. How did this happen? How do we get attached to things, shift our priorities and then lose sight of what is important?

A big part of leadership is to “know thyself”. Understanding who we are, why we behave a certain way, and how that influences others is key to enhancing our connection with the people that matter.  

I am not saying that technology and social media aren’t important. Each has its importance. But “balance” doesn’t mean you have to do them all simultaneously in a day. It’s better to be in the moment and do your best, whether it’s doing a project, taking part in a tweet-chat or going camping with the kids.

Several indicators in your daily routine or communications will give you a clue that you are not managing your time very well. To be frank, I have been guilty of all of these.

  1. Constantly rescheduling your meetings.
  2. Telling your kids, partner or friends “Just give me xx minutes and I’ll be right there”.
  3. Responding to social media posts hours later (on Twitter) or days later (on FB/LinkedIn) or never (E-mail/Phone calls).
  4. Not getting enough sleep, muddling through an illness or collapsing into a slump when you get home

Balance is a tricky thing. There are countless examples of leaders who have negotiated it to an almost ideal place. Bill Gates left his billion dollar corporation well before most people (including us) would ever think to leave. Remember though that this is a journey and not exactly a defined destination.

Balance can be achieved by acknowledging what our priorities are and how they make our personal and professional life better. Think about how you want to reflect on your life from ages 25 to 45 or 50 to 70, and ask yourself what would sound like a life well-spent? There is a place for technology and social media in your life. It should be a balanced “part” of your life, but not your life.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

Contributed by Bobby Umar, President and Leadership Catalyst, Raeallan
One of Inc. Magazine‘s Top 100 Leadership speakers, Bobby is a 4x TEDx speaker, international author, Huffington Post contributor and social media guru, who champions authentic connection and heart-based leadership, With a background in brand marketing (Kraft & Unilever), engineering (Bombardier) and the performing arts (Second City), Bobby has led Raeallan for 9 years and is now a recognized thought leader in Social Media, Personal Branding and Networking. Named the 2nd best Twitter business coach & 4th best Leadership influencer on social media via Kred, Bobby is one of the top tweeters in the world with over 320,000 followers.