The NOW Generation

When I was growing up, a hundred years ago, my mother used to say that I was part of the NOW generation, but this was way before instant messaging, cellphones,  iPads and email.

I am plugged in 24 / 6. I am surrounded by technology. Sometimes it gets to be too much. In the evenings I sometimes actually read a book – a real book, with physical pages and everything!!

However, because I work from home and am seemingly continuously tethered to some form of technology, I need to make strict delineations between work time and my time. What bothers me is that so many people think that because I work from home they can email / call at all hours, and expect for me to return their call / email / text immediately. And when I don’t, they sometimes take offense. I think the main culprits (in my experience) are those people who work 9-5 in an office, and physically leave their work behind. It doesn’t occur to them that home-workers have actual office hours too.

I sit down at my computer at 6 am and I start work. I have coffee in hand. I answer emails, get the kids up, start working on the day’s To-Do List. I don’t stop till 4 or 5 pm. I take a break here and there to eat.  My evenings are for myself and my family. If I choose to answer emails, fine. If I choose not to, it should also be fine.

When did it become ok for us to expect instant replies? I know I am probably guilty of the same thing about which I am complaining. You send a text – and you KNOW that the textee is never separated from his / her phone, and it bothers you that you don’t get an immediate response. When did we stop respecting people’s need for space and time?

How on earth would we have survived when we had to wait for letters to be delivered and responded to? How long do you think it’s appropriate to wait for a response to an email or a text? Are there different rules for work emails and social emails?

4 responses to “The NOW Generation

  1. This is a really good point – something I am guilty of on both ends… Oy.

  2. You need to set expectations. Don’t aim for any better than 24 hrs turnaround, and don’t let anyone expect otherwise. Add the following to your email signature: “I usually check email every couple of hours during business hours, and typically reply within 24 hours.”

  3. Your mother was so right about the NOW generation, and it seems like it keeps getting worse. Everyone is looking for instant gratification, from texting, video games, email, Skype, fast food… the list goes on. It must be so much worse for you, when people expect you to be on call all the time b/c you work from home. I agree with IS – 24 hours is an acceptable amount of time for them to wait for an email response.

  4. Dr. Peter Geidel

    Thank you for this blog. I think there needs to be a separation between work and home (or even a short break to take a walk at lunch) for mental sanity. There is too much stress put on workers today, and in some ways telecommuters have a greater strain, because you have no ability to leave your computer for any length of time. When I see the rudeness of people, the homicidal driving behavior of people during rush hour, and the aggressive demand for instant gratification, I realize that we would all benefit if we did not expect instant text replies 24 hours a day.

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