Technology plays a critical role in today's work environment. It is easy to describe how technology makes busy professionals more efficient. Think about the impact of the advances in computing power and usability over the last few decades. An ROI analysis now takes minutes instead of days. An email can go around the world in seconds versus a week for snail mail.
And the workplaces of the future utilize coworking software for more - not fewer - human connections. Technology can boost creativity too. Pixar animated movie studio founder Ed Catmull writes in Creativity Inc that technology enables continuous iteration at a speed not possible in the past. That, plus technology freeing up time for experimentation, results in a better creative process and enhanced productivity.
Yet We Wonder - Have Recent Technology Trends Actually Increased Office Efficiency?
Digital overload has become a real challenge for employees and their productivity. We live in a world where content consumption is a 24/7/365 activity, and frankly, we’ve become so addicted to content it can be challenging to know how to turn it off. In the workplace, this is even more true. We’re either connected to our laptop, phone, iPad, iChat, Slack, text, or digital device, being bombarded with notifications, messages, and alerts. We’ve become numb to it. And when it is actually time to focus, easy procrastination opportunities are at your fingertips.
In a study created by Stanford professors, they found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information to not pay attention, control their memory, or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time. As business leaders, entrepreneurs, and just overall hardworking people, it’s time to refocus ourselves, and get back to work. How should we deal with all of the interruptions at work?
Have You Noticed That on Days That You’ve Felt the Most Busy, You Can Sometimes Have Nothing to Show for It When You Finally Shut Down Your Computer?
Let’s first acknowledge that technology itself isn’t the problem, but our use of technology is. Repeat, technology is not the problem, but our use of technology is.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that awkward moment out of the way and admitted our constant craving for technology, what can we do to flip the dialogue, and begin to use the tools that were created to our benefit?
1. Reduce Interruptions
One of the biggest benefits of our apps and devices is that we actually get to make the choice of how to use them, and when. The simplest step we can make is to take advantage of the “silence” settings. No longer will you be sitting in a meeting, distracted by the notifications that pop up on your phone while your boss is talking to you.
Start small, and silence text notifications on your phone. Now take a deep breath. Step one complete. You’ve made it. Whether you just turned off the sound, or turned off the ability for the message to pop up on your screen, you’ve taken a big step.
Ready to go one step further?
Think about how much time is spent on the countless, useless emails that rise to the top of your inbox. You’re crafting the perfect message to your client, or navigating a difficult response to one of your direct reports, and DING! Home Depot has a sale on garden shears, and you must know about it. A simple tool to immediately reduce distractions it to create a priority inbox on your email. Using Gmail to filter for you based on your settings allows you to prioritize your time the way you see fit, and shifts the power back into your hands.
But of course, don’t forget to keep the Greetly check-in app notifications going, so you know when your client (or your lunch!) arrives.
2. Always on to Turning Off
If you’ve already created the perfect settings on your email and texts, but you still find yourself being distracted by technology when you’re trying to get your work done, consider using tech time as a reward.
Again, starting small, try "turning off” for 30 minutes. This doesn’t mean zoning out or becoming unresponsive to your teammates, it means allowing yourself to dedicate time to one task for 30 minutes, and then giving yourself a 5 minute tech time reward. This could be a quick response to your loved one’s text message, randomly scanning instagram for a few minutes, or googling the latest recipe that you’ll try for Thanksgiving this week.
Once you’ve mastered the “turning off” for 30 minutes throughout the workday, see what you can do to increase it. Research shows that 52 working for 52 minutes, followed by 17 minutes breaks, is the perfect productivity formula. Of course, you will have to work around all of those pesky meetings your boss schedules.
You might find that you get through your to-do list a lot quicker, and can reflect back on your to-done list with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
3. Take a Break
When in doubt, just take a break. Literally, go on a walk, do some stretches in your office, meditate. Clear your head from the distractions.
Schedule the breaks based on when you know you tend to be the least productive. If you tend to get in a post-lunch rut, schedule a reminder on your phone for a 15 minute walk when you know it will help the most. If you’re a user of the Apple Watch, you can use their new technology to set goals for activity, standing time, and calories burned. Then, without having to think about it, you’ll get reminders and the push you need to stand up, shake it off for a few minutes.
Summary – Make Technology Work for You
Remember, the goal of technology is to increase office efficiency, not add new distractions. So, when you’re starting to feel burned out from tech, just remember, it’s not technology’s fault, it’s how we use it! For additional ways to make technology your friend rather than foe, contact us at Greetly, and we’ll share some unique services with you that will streamline your day, allowing you to focus on what really matters.
---Dave at Greetly