Using technology to increase productivity may sound like an oxymoron. After all, we’ve all been out to dinner and seen the “zombies”. You know exactly what I’m talking about; couples spending date night not talking to each other, kids playing on an Ipad, or folks responding to a text while a friend talks to them. My generation appears to be particularly guilty of this egregious social impropriety. Whether you like it or not, technology isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’ll be the first to admit that in the past I have been the textbook example of the aforementioned. My wife is huge on quality time. I lost count of the times she asked me to be present. We’d be watching TV together and I’d completely miss something key because I was scrolling through Facebook. Is your reliance on technology hindering your personal, relational, and business growth?
Are you with me?
As people, we absolutely hate to feel like we’ve “missed out”. I personally think that’s one of the main reasons Facebook is so successful. We want to know what’s going on with everyone. We need to know what everyone is up to. This innate desire is one of the reasons we develop the habit of checking our devices constantly.
How many times have you opened your phone (to do something) and ended up on Facebook trying to remember what you got your phone out for? I’ve lost count of the number of times I could have sworn that my phone vibrated in my pocket. I realize that it’s not going to be Facebook for everyone. For some folks, it’s going to be Instagram, Periscope, or Snapchat. My point isn’t to point out an addiction, reliance, or even discuss the negative aspects of social media. (That’s another discussion) My point is to hit on the role that habits, muscle memory, and lack of boundaries play in decreased productivity.
What am I doing differently?
First and foremost if you’re wasting time at work you need to establish some boundaries. You’re going to have to be intentional and want to experience some change. I’m a car guy, musician, and social butterfly. I would catch myself sitting down to work and pulling up Facebook without even thinking anything of it. Pull up your browsing history and take a look at what you’re spending your time on. How many times are you on Facebook a day? For me, I also had a ton of Topgear (cars) and Reverb (music classifieds) sucking up my day. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is to be “on when I’m on and off when I’m off”. That means working like a dog and playing like a kid.
I installed a website blocker. If you use Google Chrome this is a simple matter of setting up a plug-in.
I use and like:
I set a schedule that matches my workday. You can also set up a message to display when you try to pull up a site. Mine is set to success and inspirational quotes. The “WHY” behind my methods if you will.
I highly recommend sitting down and writing out why you want to make this change. What would happen in your career, finances, business, marriage, and life if you were more productive?
Limiting how often I get notifications on my cell phone. Have you ever had an app on your phone that seems to “push” every other minute? Facebook… Someone is live. Email… 10% off this week. Words With Friends… Your turn!
The first thing I personally recommend is deleting the Facebook app from your phone. For me personally, I’ve moved over to Instagram. I can still see “life” events of my friends/family but it doesn’t waste nearly as much time for me. (I did have to leave FB Messenger on my phone as it’s how I deal with some business clients.) Next, I would disable push notifications on anything that isn’t business critical.
If you’re like me you probably get a TON of emails. There’s an awesome tool that will show you what mailing lists your subscribed to:
Unsubscribe yourself from literally everything you don’t need. You’ll probably be surprised just how much spam you’re getting. Anything that it doesn’t catch I mark as spam and block as it comes in. This will take a week or two but the amount of useless email I get is a night and day difference.
This allows me to check my phone less and when it does vibrate it’s something actually important.
I’m a big advocate of not having cable TV. We actually only use Hulu and Netflix. This way you’re not fed ads, mindlessly vegging (as much), and you can watch tv when you want vs when it’s live. My wife and I are actually trying to go without TV completely. I’d rather spend our time together reading, playing games, exercising, or hanging out with friends. Our results/thoughts on this will be a separate blog post.
I moved over to a Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch. It costs me $10 a month through AT&T. This is honestly very similar to just going back to a flip phone. (But I like the fitness tracking, music, and not having something in my pocket.) I get my texts/phone calls. I get notifications of emails. But I’m not on Social Media, The internet, or ignoring people around me. I know several friends with just basic flip phones who’ve noticed the same things I’m seeing. They’re waking up to everyone else not paying attention. They’re connecting more with people actually around them.
There was a recent movie about a man who falls in love with his “Siri” equivalent. I didn’t see the movie but I read an awesome article regarding the movie. Silicon Valley loved the movie for its use of technology and connectivity. In the movie, the main character wears in-ear devices that allow him to interact with his virtual assistant in the real world. In one scene he’s talking to someone who doesn’t speak English. His in-ears translate for him while the other persons do the same. How cool would that be? You could travel anywhere in the world and communicate speaking in your native tongue.
My view of the above scenario is very much what I’ve described in this post. If we’re smart and utilize technology as a tool we can make it work for us. The intelligent can use it to diversify, streamline, and build businesses. The masses will rely too heavily on it and sink deeper into it.
” Doing the same thing as everyone else and expecting different results is insane!” (Paraphrased Albert Einstien Quote)
Take a look at this link below. Any of this feel/sound familiar?