Driving Productivity & Safeguarding Work/Life Balance

November 16, 2014

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (How Technology Can Help Work/Life Balance) suggests that use of technology is so intertwined with everyday business practices that many struggle to maintain a healthy work/life balance. The author observed that professionals find themselves struggling as they feel incessantly connected to work through their mobile devices.

The article suggests a handful of ways that we can leverage technology to actually lessen our constant work demands; these include:

  1. Setting rules that limit the frequency of “Reply All“s;
  2. Encouraging that emails be flagged by the sender as “Response Required (RR)“, “For Your Information (FYI)” & “No Response Necessary (NRN)“;
  3. Restricting the hours by which professionals receive their emails (perhaps limiting the emails received during nights and weekends); &
  4. Scheduling the work day so as to limit meetings that consume no more than 65% of the day.  This would allow professionals the time to reflect and respond to their emails throughout the work day.  This would also require that meetings are only called when absolutely necessary, and that the meetings being held are productive in nature.

The tenets of the article remind me of the teachings from the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement’s Productive Leader Series.

The crux behind the Productive Leader series is to release the time to lead. The series encourages leaders to make time to:

  • be more visible amongst your staff and within your organization;
  • foster talent development amongst your team;
  • dedicate time to your own personal and professional development; &
  • Achieve a sustainable work-life balance.

In fact, the NHS identified two key areas for improvement; those being in meeting and email management:

The biggest area in which your leadership team can make improvements and save time is likely to be meetings management. Our findings revealed that NHS leaders spend an average of 70% of their time in meetings with only 27% starting on time and even less, 18%, finishing on time.

Improvements can also be made in email and workload management. During the test phase for The Productive Leader [series], participants reported that… the focus of their emails and the responses they received improved by 32%. 

(NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, 2013)

So, it begs the question, do you think it possible to enhance the efficiency at which meetings and emails are managed in your workplace?


Callard, L. Bevan, H., & Morgan-Cooke, M. (2009, September 9). The Productives: “Releasing Time” series. Retrieved from BC Patient Safety and Quality Council: http://bcpsqc.ca/documents/2013/01/BCPSQC-HQN-Sept-9-2009-Presentations-NHS-Productive-Series.pdf

Deal, J. J. (2014, October 27). How Technology Can Help Work/Life Balance. Retrieved from The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-technology-can-help-work-life-balance-1414382688

NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. (2013, March 31). Productives. Retrieved from NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement: http://www.institute.nhs.uk/quality_and_value/productivity_series/the_opportunity.html