Technology – is it working for or against us?

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technolgy and work-life balanceThe findings from Statistics Canada’s 2016 General Social Survey suggest that technology may be the culprit for some dissatisfaction in our work-life balance.

While two out of three Canadians are satisfied or very satisfied with the relationship between work and personal time, the satisfaction level has decreased by 10 points since this survey was last completed in 2008.

Three out of every four Canadians owns a smart phone and most of us have instant access to the Internet virtually everywhere we go.

In the past, when you left work you were on your own time. That is no longer the case because in our overly competitive world your job can follow you into your down time. Smart phones make us accessible 24/7. 

Technology’s hold over us doesn’t stop there.

Desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones are continually bombarding us with alerts, messages, texts, images, and videos. Sifting through the facts, rumors, and noise, trying to decipher what is worth knowing and what to ignore, can be overwhelming.

The result is that many of us have evolved into multi-taskers, and according to the American Psychological Association, multi-tasking can reduce productivity by 40 per cent.

Productivity experts from around the world have been telling us for years that in order to operate at peak efficiency, taking breaks and getting some personal downtime to rest is important. Not only is this the case for workers but for all people across many disciplines. The same holds true for getting things done in your personal life.

It’s OK to say no to your technology devices. To avoid burnout, we need to disconnect every once in a while. People who have mastered work-life balance don’t have a problem turning off distractions like their electronic devices.

How does all this relate to financial planning?

The term ‘market noise’ was first introduced in the 80s. It refers to market trading based on hype, bias, misinformation, or random fluctuations, rather than evidence.

Today, with digital media spotlighting everything from geopolitical unrest to environmental disasters, financial information and opinions, which may or may not be reliable, can be confusing.

People react to noise for many reasons: they want to know what’s going on, they want to be better informed, or like many who are tethered to their smart phones, have a fear of missing out.

However, the more informed we are doesn’t always mean we are making the best decisions. This is especially true for nervous investors who may react to market volatility by making noise-driven, emotionally based, decisions.

People should have a good understanding of how investments work, but to do that they don’t need to check their smart phones every minute. Investing should be a more disciplined approach with a well-diversified, risk adjusted portfolio— not one of trying to beat the market.

On many levels, technology has made life easier and more efficient. The Statistics Canada survey also showed that 59 per cent of Canadians liked the new digital technologies and thought life was better because of them. We just need to remember to disconnect every so often.

Control your digital world rather than have it control you.

 

 

Peter Watson is an agent of, and securities products are provided by, Aligned Capital Partners Inc. (ACPI).  ACPI is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACPI. Peter Watson provides wealth management services through Peter Watson Investments.