Turn It Off: How to Unplug from the Anytime-Anywhere Office Without Disconnecting Your Career

Turn It Off: How to Unplug from the Anytime-Anywhere Office Without Disconnecting Your Career

5.0 4
by Gil Gordon
From the Author:
Here�s why I wrote this book:

It�s not meant to be an anti-technology rant. I don't want to suggest that everyone cut back their work week to 35 or 40 hours. And most important, I don't want to advocate any particular work style or methods for balancing or integrating work and life.

My goals are to:

  • Help you hold a


From the Author:
Here�s why I wrote this book:

It�s not meant to be an anti-technology rant. I don't want to suggest that everyone cut back their work week to 35 or 40 hours. And most important, I don't want to advocate any particular work style or methods for balancing or integrating work and life.

My goals are to:

  • Help you hold a mirror up to your life and see how mobile-office technology may have changed your work habits and your life;
  • Let you look at that assessment and make some deliberate decisions about how you might re-establish some boundaries between work and the rest of life;
  • Equip you to develop a specific plan for doing so, and for taking this plan to your boss and/or co-workers and clients and gain their support—without getting fired or losing business.
Most of us are never going back to the "good old days" of shorter work weeks, plenty of leisure time, and a stress-free existence. But we can make the best of these harried times by choosing to decide where we draw the line between work and the rest of our lives, and them implementing those decisions wisely.

This book won't solve all your work—or home—problems, it won't make you love a job you otherwise hate, and it won't forever free you from the electronic tethers of voice mail and e-mail. But if you want to create a more balanced and enjoyable lifestyle, this book is for you.

About the Author:
Gil Gordon is a telecommuting and virtual-office expert who has been featured in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today for his work worldwide with clients such as Citicorp, AT&T, and Merrill Lynch. He lives in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First people traveled to work, then they created home offices and began telecommuting, and then they got wired with laptops, e-mail and cell phones and work became 24/7. Setting boundaries between work and life when the distinction is virtual is difficult but possible, coaches Gil Gordon, an expert on the topic, in Turn It Off: How to Unplug from the Anytime-Anywhere Office Without Disconnecting Your Career. The "basic premise for change," he believes, is "it's your own responsibility." To that end, Gordon has created a workable system he calls "100/60/0" to enable readers, no matter how plugged in, to be able to declare all systems off at least part of the time. Agent, Liv Blumer, Karpfinger Agency. ( Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
5.17(w) x 8.05(h) x 0.56(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: How Did We Become So Attached to Our Offices?

Granted, many companies came into the 1990s having become somewhat bloated, the result of previous decades when competitive pressures and scrutiny from Wall Street analysts weren't quite as relentless. However, if the people went away but the same tasks, to be done the same way, remained, the result was a mad dash to cram more work into fewer people. If six people are doing the work that ten used to do, and at the same time are expected to meet or exceed previous budget and productivity targets, something has to give. Staffing levels might have been a bit generous in years past, but that doesn't mean everyone was sitting around filing their nails and working a 35-hour workweek.

To this pressure-cooker environment in which everyone was supposed to "do more with less," we can add the globalization trend that swept through corporate boardrooms. It was as if CEOs awoke from a deep sleep and realized their competitors and customers were not only down the street or across the country, but just as likely to be across an ocean or two. To the extent that those competitors had a lower cost structure-which many did because their labor costs were so much lower-U.S. and European firms had yet another reason to keep budgets and headcounts lower.

The final ingredient in this stew of workplace turmoil was fierce competition, which resulted in the pressure to do everything faster. "Time to market" became the rallying cry; product development time lines were compressed, and it became trendy to take a "ready, fire, aim" approach. One way that corporate leaders justified this quest for speed was to point to the multibillion-dollar investments in IT equipment and services that were made in the 1990s. The new PCs and corporate networks were supposed to boost productivity and profits, and would, in fact, allow their companies to "do more with less."

This was true. But another truth got buried under the technology sales pitches. Achieving those gains would happen only after a significant initial investment in training and in "system integration" to make sure that all the pieces meshed well with each other. This goal was made more difficult to achieve due to the problem referred to by many as "paving over the cowpaths."

Trying to modernize a city by paving the dirt roads with blacktop doesn't help much if all you do is pave the existing twisted maze of narrow paths suitable for horses and cattle but not for cars and buses. Similarly, pouring thousands of PCs and miles of cables into a corporation was a great way to waste money unless the systems and processes that technology was meant to automate were overhauled-in other words, the corporate "cowpaths" were straightened and widened before being paved over with all those chip-laden wonders. Unfortunately, this all became somewhat irrelevant. The expectation was that more technology meant more speed and more output per employee-and when those results didn't always magically occur, the only way to produce them was to require people to work longer hours.

Oddly, the same thing happened even when the technology delivered as promised. Consider the case of presentation software such as Microsoft's PowerPoint, which has become a corporate staple. Before PowerPoint, a graphics presentation would have to be created by a graphic artist using highly complex software or even something less sophisticated and more manual in nature. With PowerPoint and its software cousins, just about anyone could sit down at a PC and, without much training or practice, produce an on-screen presentation or a slick set of slides, handouts, or transparencies that looked fully professional.

On one hand, this software actually was a productivity tool-it took only hours to do what might have taken days previously, and the result was just as good-if not better. But it didn't stop there. Once everyone saw how easy it was to use these programs, they were used more and more. Thus, a senior manager who wouldn't have considered asking an analyst to spend a couple of days working up a slide presentation using Stone Age technology didn't hesitate to direct the same analyst to prepare that presentation using the desktop PC and PowerPoint. The goal was for this analyst to save time by using the software; the likely outcome was that he or she spent more time on presentations and had less time available for other aspects of the job.

The Employer Bottom Line

These three forces-downsizing, globalization, and the need for speed-combined to change the work environment from being comfortably busy to being a nonstop workshop in which most people felt they could never get caught up and could never stop to take a breather.

My point is not that employers should have ignored these forces; those who did flirted with disaster. Like it or not, the pace and pressures in organizations did heat up in the last decade and especially in the late 1990s. We are still seeing the effects of those changes on the everyday schedules of most office workers.

Where Do We Go Next-and Is the Grass Greener Elsewhere?

Now you have the "big picture" background about why so many people seem to be working for so long in so many places. The three contributing factors were shown in a triangle earlier because they are inseparable; we can't affect one without affecting at least one of the other two. That's why we'll focus on all three as the rest of the book gives you methods for redrawing some boundaries in your life.

Maybe you're starting to think that the most expedient way to deal with these issues is to move beyond them, instead of working on a plan to cope with and improve them where you are now. You might be especially tempted to look elsewhere if you're in a situation with your employer or your clients that simply breeds pressure, tight deadlines, and nonstop work. If you're thinking that things might be better elsewhere, and that it's time to polish up your resume so you can find a job where it doesn't seem you're working 23 hours out of every 24, I'm afraid I have some bad news. The grass really isn't much greener anywhere else-or at least, not a whole lot greener...

Meet the Author

GIL GORDON is a telecommuting and virtual-office expert who has been featured in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today for his work worldwide with clients such as Citicorp, AT&T, and Merrill Lynch. He lives in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey.

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Turn It Off 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Regardless of who you are - a casual user of today's technology, old, young, or in between, a corporate citizen or a manager - it is easy to become enthralled by today's 'toys', which turn into 'tools' and unless handled carefully, change into 'weapons' that threaten to control us. At one point in time or another, we've each fallen victim to the seductiveness of 'always on' technology. Believing the myth of 'I'll only check e-mail for 5 minutes' or 'I'll check my voice mail - it will probably only take a second' has lead many of us to the almost unconscious, unnoticeable state of 'always on duty'. How did it happen? How can we revert back? 'Turn It Off' helps - a great deal! It is practical, the approach is definitely instructive, and the reader is given much to think about when analyzing their personal and professional circumstances. Approaching our time off with as much care as we devote to our business reminds us to cherish it as the valued and valuable commodity it is. The author has done an admirable job of positioning the trends that we all must respond to as managers, employees and most importantly, people. We live and work in tumultuous times... 'Turn It Off' captures our dilemma - and our opportunity to regain control - most effectively.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best way to describe this book is use an overused cliché: Turning If Off is about quality of life. In guilt-free exercises, Gil offers a way to assess where we are and what is truly important in life. He clearly gives us a choice about whether we live to work or work to live. In either case his process and coaching left me with the feeling that I have a choice and, more importantly, that work can be and should be fun. If work isn¿t fun, he offers us practical approaches to deal with our discontent. I was impressed with the equitable treatment he gives to both employee and employer expectations and perspectives. This treatment reflects his long-standing philosophy of fairness and one size doesn¿t fit all. Particularly interesting in the chapter entitled ¿What¿s Ahead ¿ and What It Means¿. Here Gil¿s crystal-ball forecasting shines once again. Anyone who has read his annual crystal ball forecasts beginning in 1984 (Telecommuting Review Newsletter) would appreciate his accuracy and sensitivity in looking ahead and speculating about what it means. All telework/telecommuting consultants and trainers would be wise to include this book among the top resources for preparing the teleworkforce for a meaningful work life. As a telework/telecommuting consultant and, if I had my way, I would make Turn It Off required reading before anyone embarks upon remote work and/or managing remote workers. Gil has given us a long needed and practical guide to improve our work and, best of all, our quality of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great advice from a humorous and knowledgable author on how to handle the stress from dealing with all the technology tools and communication devices that clutter up our lives. We all know 5 people we would like to give this book to... after we read it ourselves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We used to be able to disconnect from the office. Our home lives and our work lives were separate. We had a life, as today's expression goes. In a world of e-mail, voicemail, pagers, cell phones, and personal digital assistants, it's increasingly hard to have a life. At least a life outside of work. All these technological marvels are wonderful, except that they keep us so tethered to our work. We can no longer easily separate the workplace from the rest of our lives. With these connections, every place is the workplace. Result: burnout, severely reduced family and personal time, and shallow relationships with friends and family. We've been trapped in a world that expects instant response 24 hours a day, 7 days a week . . . if we allow it. And most of us do. But we don't have to! Gil Gordon, an expert in telecommuting and virtual offices, shows us how to regain our freedom, privacy, space . . . to get a life. The book is organized into nine chapters, starting with How Did We Become So Attached to Our Offices. Get ready-in chapter 2, you'll learn How to Find Out if You've Gone over the Line. The balance of the book is page after page of techniques, based on Gordon's three zones of life management. Chapter 6 is critical: How to Approach, Inform, and Get Support from Your Boss, Clients, or Co-Workers. I bet you'll take notes on this chapter! Don't think you can do it all? Chapter 9 covers What to Do if You Just Can't 'Turn It Off.' An important point: Gordon doesn't tell you exactly what to do. He just shows you the path. It's up to the reader to determine how far to go, when, and why. Turn It Off gives you the blueprint, the skeleton design, the concept. It's up to you to use it in the way that will be best for you and your life. No, you can't borrow my copy-I've marked it up-lots of fill-in worksheets. And I want to keep this book. Turn It Off came at a perfect time in my life. I had reached that point where I really wanted to break free of the bonds of total connection. While my desire was there, I needed just a little bit of moral support and perhaps something to call my feeling. Turn it off! Yes! I read the book. I paid attention. I followed Gordon's suggestions to re-think my life. I made some major changes that feel wonderful already! Now I have to discipline myself to stick with it. I think I'll put Turn It Off in my tickler file for three months from now as a reminder to check my progress. Thanks, Gil Gordon--I now have a life again!