THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Crackberry woes: Stop blaming that useful little device

Think your Blackberry use is out of control and you need to turn it off? Forget it. The problem is not the Blackberry, it's you.

The Blackberry actually gives you the freedom to effectively mix your personal life and work life so that they don't have to compete with each other.

Don't talk to me about the idea that the Blackberry undermines your ability to have work-life balance. First, the idea that you could ever have it is ridiculous. But a Blackberry at least gives you hope.

Without a Blackberry, you always had to choose. Work and life were always competing for large chunks of time. But with the Blackberry, you can have a blended life where work life and personal life complement each other. The Blackberry makes it so you can always do work but also always do your personal life, so you choose which one has priority, minute to minute.

In the '80s, if you went to your kid's soccer game, you could not do work. Today, you can go to your kid's soccer game and take the call from the CEO that will change your life (or have a fight with a co-worker) and then go back to soccer. It's not one or the other. If you could not take that call, you could not have gone to the game. That's why the Blackberry is great.

The challenge of the Blackberry is that you need to know your priorities at any given moment. Focus on one or two things and that's it.

Then ask yourself: Given what you're doing right now, which emails and which calls are important enough to take? If you're not clear on the answer at every given moment, you're constantly having to make difficult decisions about answering emails, and you feel a false sense of overload by the demands of the Blackberry.

If you're at a birthday party for 10-year-old boys and they're screaming up and down a soccer field, you're probably bored, and emails look a little more enticing. This isn't about being addicted; this is an issue of knowing when email is essential and when it's a distraction.

You've probably been out to dinner with friends when they checked their Blackberry. This means you're not their most important priority at that time. You hope your presence would make you most important, but in fact, it doesn't. Does that mean your friend is addicted to her Blackberry? No. It means your friend is prioritizing, and she's letting you know that you rank high enough for in-person, but you don't trump everyone.

That seems fine. People should just call a spade a spade, stop complaining about the device, and start thinking about how to make better choices for their priorities.

If you want to see a whole generation make great choices about their priorities using the Blackberry, get in touch with Generation Y. They've been managing multiple steams of conversation simultaneously for more than a decade, so they're aces at it. And they're fiends for productivity tips. 

The most popular blogs are productivity blogs. Young people are constantly using prioritizing tools to make their information and ideas flow more smoothly for both work and life, back and forth, totally braided.

Blackberries are tools for the well-prioritized. If you feel like you're being ruled by your Blackberry, you probably are. And the only way to free yourself from those shackles is to start prioritizing so that you know at any given moment the most important thing to do.

Sometimes it will be the Blackberry, and sometimes it won't. And the first step to doing this shift properly is recognizing that you can be on and off the Blackberry all day as a sign of empowerment.