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Working Hard to Stay Simple

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple”. If Albert were alive with us today, how do think he would simplify this complex world in which we find ourselves?


Each one of us are given the same 168 hours each week to get the job done; working, eating, exercising, caring for the people we love… and may be even to fit in a few hours of sleep.

Our lives have only been further complicated with the advent of smartphones and the demands of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, WeChat, Instagram, Pinterest and others; all vying for our precious moments of time and attention. And seemingly we just keep giving it away, for free!

Or is it free? Is there a cost to our investments we wantonly sow into social media?

According to the American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey, it appears there is a cost; for many a pretty steep cost.

The survey is conducted annually on how stress affects American adults’ health and well-being. This year’s survey took a deeper look at technology and social media to better understand their link to stress and relationships along with overall health and well-being.

Here are a few of the survey’s findings:

  • 86 percent are “constant checkers” of emails, texts and social media accounts
  • 42 percent of constant checkers indicate political and cultural discussions on social media cause them stress
  • 42 percent say they worry about negative effects of social media on their physical and mental health (compared to 27 percent of non-constant checkers)
  • 44 percent express feeling disconnected from their family, even when they are together
  • 35 percent report being less likely to meet with family and friends in person because of social media

If you were to take the survey, how would you respond? Are you a “constant checker”? What is the impact; positive or negative? Being “in the know” with your FB followers; does it bring you joy? Does it simplify or further complicate your life?

A Pew Research survey conducted in January of 2015 states that women report 7 percent higher stress levels as a result of social media interaction than men.

In addition to all of the other complexities of being a responsible adult, we now burden ourselves with constantly checking how many “likes” our FB post received, responding back to the continuous stream of WeChat messages; and oh yeah, don’t forget your job. While the use of email is quickly fading, for most of us, email still consumes much of our working hours; we desperately work hard to squeeze in responses amidst the meetings, calls, completion of reports, etc.

So what’s the answer? Simplify!


You might consider conducting a simplification exercise. Perhaps it’s one you can do with your husband or wife or colleague.

Plot out your 168 hour week. How do you spend your time? Given you likely have to work/commute (50 hours), sleep (49 hours), eat/prepare food (21 hours), care for family/personal responsibilities (14 hours); you are left with 34 hours. How do you use this time? How do you want to use this time?

How much time will you give to social media? TV? Relationships? Reading? Exercising? Thinking/reflecting?

Perhaps it is time for a “digital detox”? Time to take back the wasted minutes and hours. Begin choosing to invest your time how you want to, no longer being sucked down the path of no-return.

You might start with some simple boundaries; no digital connects before 8AM or after 9PM, no devices during meals with family or friends, turn off notifications; give yourself a particular time to check and respond.

Work hard to stay simple; you’ll be glad you did!




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