Are you thinking your Blackberry use is out of control and you need to turn it off? Forget it. The problem is not the Blackberry, it’s you.
The Blackberry actually gives you the freedom to effectively mix your personal life and work life so that they don’t have to compete with each other.
Don't talk to me about the idea that the Blackberry undermines your ability to have work-life balance. First, the idea that you could ever have it is ridiculous. But a Blackberry at least gives you hope.
Without a Blackberry, you always had to choose one or the other. Work and life were always competing for large chunks of time in the day. But with the Blackberry, you can have a blended life where work life and personal life complement each other. What I mean is that the Blackberry makes it so you can always do work but also always do your personal life, so you choose which one has priority, minute to minute.
In the 80s, if you went to your kid's soccer game, you could not do work. Today, you can go to your kid's soccer game and take the call from the CEO that will change your life (or have a fight with a co-worker) and then go back to soccer. You get both. It's not one or the other. If you could not take that call, you could not have gone to the game. That’s why the Blackberry is great for your life.
The challenge that the Blackberry brings is that you always need to know your priorities, at any given moment. Anne Zelenka at Web Worker Daily describes this process as really focusing on one or two things and that's it.
Then ask yourself: Given what you are doing right now, which emails and which calls are important enough to take? If you are not clear on the answer at every given moment, you are constantly having to make difficult decisions about answering emails or not and you feel a false sense of overload by the demands of the Blackberry.
If you are having sex, you have a good sense that very few emails in the whole world need your attention right then. If you are at a birthday party for ten year old boys and they are screaming up and down a soccer field, you are probably bored and emails look a little more enticing. This is not about addicted or not addicted; this is an issue of knowing when email is essential and when it’s a distraction.
You have probably been out to dinner with friends and they checked their Blackberry. This means you are not their most important priority at that time, just for that moment. You of course hope that your presence would make you most important, but in fact, it did not. Does that mean your friend is addicted to her Blackberry? No. It means your friend is prioritizing and she’s letting you know that you rank high enough for in-person, but you don’t trump everyone.
That seems fine. Normal, really. If people would just call a spade a spade and stop complaining about the device and start thinking about how to make better choices for their priorities.
If you want to see a whole generation make great choices about their priorities using the Blackberry, then latch onto Generation Y. They have been managing multiple steams of conversation simultaneously for more than a decade, so they are aces at it. And they are fiends for productivity tips. The most popular blogs are productivity blogs, and David Allen is a rock star in this demographic. So young people are constantly using prioritizing tools to make their information and ideas flow more smoothly for both work and life, back and forth, totally braided.
Blackberries are tools for the well-prioritized. If you feel like you’re being ruled by your Blackberry, you probably are. And the only way to free yourself from those shackles is to start prioritizing so that you know at any given moment what is the most important thing to do. Sometimes it will be the Blackberry, and sometimes it won’t. And the first step to doing this shift properly is recognizing that you can be on and off the Blackberry all day as a sign of empowerment.