Modern technology is supposed to make life easier and more efficient. And it does (except when it doesn’t).
These days many of us spend most of our waking hours looking at a screen, which subjects us to untold distractions. The sticky vortex of advertising, social media, emails, texts and clickbait articles is the digital equivalent of quicksand. Step into it, and you’re going to be fighting and clawing to get your way out and actually get something done, which was the reason you were working with your computer, smartphone or tablet to begin with, right?
“With today’s technology, you can find recipes, track your caloric intake, track your exercise, check your social life, research your family tree, write a book, read a book, organize your photos,” says productivity expert Julie Morgenstern. “You can do everything.” The key, Morgenstern and other productivity experts caution, is to not let that sticky vortex suck up too much of your time. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ve spent a whole day immersed in the ether. You emerge dazed, confused and wondering where your time went—and what you actually accomplished.
Here, the experts sound off on their guiding philosophies to keep you on track, along with the most common mistakes they see when it comes to technology and time management. Can these wise words improve your mindless surfing habits?
Author of Never Check E-Mail In the Morning
“People think tech is going to organize you. Tech will not organize you. You have to organize you. And then you use tech to support your own systems.”
“Every piece of tech can maybe save you some time or help you do something more effectively, but there’s a time investment involved in every kind of tech. It’s not only time-saving; it’s time-costing.”
Author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done
“The rules for accomplishing something are what they’ve always been: You need time and undistracted focus. The reality is very few of us can isolate ourselves from the distraction of technology long enough to have that undistracted focus.”
Author of Time Traps: Proven Strategies for Swamped Salespeople
“Tech is often misinterpreted as production. In the case of email and online searches, we think we’re working and being productive, but we’re actually not.”
Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, Leena Rinne
Authors of The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity
“The truth is that technology can amp up the addictive power of urgency tenfold. Our current technologies can provide such immediate responses to our actions that we can be caught up in responding to texts and tweets, thinking we are being productive, when in fact we are really only being distracted.”
“In the end, technology is not the problem; it is how conscious and deliberate we are about how we use it. We have every chance to use our tools wisely to achieve extraordinary productivity every day.”
Author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style
“[Spending your days on your smartphones and in your inboxes] is a productivity drain and an ineffective use of your most valuable commodity—time. Take back control by checking email only at regular intervals at predetermined times of the day—for example, at midmorning, after lunch and at midafternoon. Then get out of email and get back to productive work.”
“If you find yourself suffering from culturally driven busyness when it comes to email, establish some new protocols and habits. Let your colleagues, your direct reports, your manager and all of your other email correspondents know that they may have to wait a few hours for a response to a message. If it is an emergency, they can always reach you by phone.”