Connectivity: How Much is Too Much?

Every day, stacks of press releases and new product descriptions land in my email. The majority of them are posted on our Web portal at Normally, I give them a cursory read and that’s that. However, one recent item really caught my attention. It concerned a survey that was conducted during the 2012 Direct Marketing Association conference.

As most of you know, I tend to look at things from a bit of a skewed perspective anyway. And this piqued my curiosity for all the wrong reasons. This survey that found that “The barrier between personal and work life amongst highly-connected professionals such as brand marketers has all but dissolved.”

It goes on to say that, while people may mentally separate the demands of their personal and professional lives, the two are almost irrevocably intermingled. It notes, “The ‘To Do’ list is interwoven between work and play. ‘Pick up diapers’ is listed just under ‘Finish the sales forecast’.” Let’s not even discuss the quality of life you have if “pick up diapers” is considered play. Apparently, one indicator of just how enmeshed you are is where you put your smartphone overnight. Is it within arm’s reach as you sleep, or is it in another room?

The study went on to discuss how to effectively market to people living this “hybrid” lifestyle. I do not view this trend as a marketing opportunity to be exploited; rather as a serious problem.

I know that many print owners struggle with this issue. Where do we draw the line? Are you ever truly disconnected from the demands of your work? If not, what are the consequences? And, trust me, sooner or later there will be consequences.

People who operate their own businesses tend to have an element of the control freak in their personalities anyway. (I speak from experience.) Add to that the constantly connected environment we have created with smartphones, tablets, social networks, and customers who expect their needs to be met 24/7/365. Therein, you have the witch’s brew that yields levels of hyper stress. Automated workflows and online storefronts offer printers an excellent solution to part of the problem. But you still need a complete break from the stress now and then to recharge your physical and mental batteries.

So this year, I urge you to put your managerial skills to a test: Take an honest vacation. Go on a cruise or to a remote cabin in the woods; someplace that has no cell phone reception. Or just tell your employees that’s where you’re going and turn the darn thing off. Escape and have some fun. Just remember to pick up the diapers on your way home.