Unpaid digital labor

This is a new term used to describe everything from late-night emails to texting with your boss before work.

You probably think it doesn't have much importance if you quickly check your emails before going to sleep. But the constant persistent thought of unseen/unread work obligations can have serious consequences.

Kevin W. (@kevinrw767) - Profile Photo

@kevinrw767

Time Management

Companies now love to talk about work/life integration instead of work/life balance .

  • Work/life balance could evoke an opposition between work and life and a sort of competition between the two.
  • Work/life integration is an approach that creates a sense of collaboration between the many ares of our lives (work, home, family, community, personal well-being, and health). And checking email a few times before bed is a small price to pay for more flexibility and control over how, where, and when we work.

It starts with an awareness of just how much you’re contributing to the problem.

The main issue with tracking your unpaid digital labor is that it comes in tiny increments. It’s hard to track the 3 minutes you checked email while making dinner or the 10 minutes on Slack before bed. But these small check-ins adds up–both in time and well-being.

  • Before you can start minimizing your unpaid labor you have to know how much of it you’re doing. And we're generally used to underestimate how long we spend on tasks thanks to biases like the Planning Fallacy.
  • Set proper expectations. One of the main reasons unpaid digital labor happens is because people don’t set proper expectations. We assume that people know how to communicate and we don’t need to spell out specific rules.

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