One of the great things about the web is that it’s always there. Want to buy a pair of socks at 2 AM? Looking for a song title you haven’t heard in years? It’s there, all the time. Indeed, if New York is the city that never sleeps, the web is also the medium that refuses to sleep.
However, 24-hour convenience has a hidden cost. Those of us who play a role in building and maintaining websites often pay the price. We do that through our time and elevated stress levels. And we’re not just talking about working during regular hours.
For many designers and developers, it seems like we are dealing with different tasks at every hour. Answering emails, debugging code, or trying to catch up on a pile of work. And then there are emergencies like a crashed site or a malware infection.
This 24/7 work culture affects web professionals of all stripes. Whether you work as part of a large team or as a solo entrepreneur – none of us are exempt.
The situation brings to mind some questions about how to better manage (if not completely change) the culture. Let’s see if we can find some answers to help us solve the challenges.
Why Is It Hard To Step Back?
The easy answer to feeling stressed and overwhelmed is to take a step back. Remove yourself from the situation and relax your mind and body. Sounds great, right? But, it’s also a little unrealistic for many of us.
When you have responsibilities, it’s hard to shut them out. The reality is that our projects still need attention. Clients will continue to send email messages. Unexpected questions will pop up without thinking about our need for a break.
The irony was that technology was supposed to make our lives easier. And while it may improve the design and construction processes, the rest is still up to us. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help with that – but don’t expect miracles.
In addition, the sites we build now are more complex than ever. Think – the more e-commerce and subscription websites you manage, the more urgent maintenance and repairs become. Every second of downtime has an economic impact.
And this is precisely why we feel the need to always stay connected. Because when we finally have a moment to ourselves, our phones are buzzing with another notification. It’s like being a firefighter, always ready – even in the quietest moments.
How Can Web Professionals Adapt?
It’s a safe bet that the web isn’t going on vacation. He will not turn off for a few hours attending to our needs. Therefore, it is up to us to adapt.
Much of the challenge is about setting the right expectations. That is about what clients expect from us, as well as what we expect from ourselves.
It can be hard to set boundaries when you have great customer service. You want to be available when your clients need you. And it’s important to make sure that questions are answered, and problems are resolved.
Still, some clients will knowingly push (or not) the envelope in this area. If they email you in hours and you respond within a few minutes, they will expect it. Don’t be surprised if they start doing it more often.
On the other hand, if you give a regular response the next day, those prospects may change. They will no longer expect you to spring into action at a moment’s notice. If you lead the way, they are likely to follow as well.
Context also plays a role. It is important to prioritize what can or cannot wait. An emergency may require immediate attention. A basic question, on the other hand, can be saved for tomorrow.
Additionally, it is highly recommended to put your phone down and turn off notifications for a bit. Especially when spending time with family and friends. You don’t want to be that person typing furiously on a screen while your loved one tells you about their day.
You may not be able to escape for long periods. But you will at least give your brain a break and be better able to focus on other things.
Control What You Can
Mind always seems to be a modern problem. And it’s worse in an industry where we can work from almost anywhere – including home. For many of us, there is no traditional office to separate these different parts of life.
There are no hard and fast guidelines to live by, either. It is our responsibility to maintain work/life balance. Neither clients nor colleagues will do it for us.
The good news is that there is an opportunity to change the situation. None of us have to be the web designer who works every odd hour of the day. By implementing some boundaries and processes to support them, we can create healthier habits.
Ultimately, that helps you serve your clients and yourself in the best way possible.