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Technology and productivity – How tech can help you become more productive

Technology and productivity - How technology affects productivity and why to take tech detox
Blaz Kos
10 minute read

Nowadays, technology is one of the most important tools at your disposal to dramatically increase your productivity with. However, just as technology can improve your productivity, it can also kill it. 

Think of technology like a hammer: you can use it to hit a nail or hit your fingers. It all depends on how good you are at managing the tool.

It’s the same with all contemporary electronics, apps and devices. If you (know how to) manage the tech, your productivity level increases. If the tech manages you, and you react to every notification or email, or you’re not willing to invest time into mastering new technologies, your productivity decreases.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the concept of technology as leverage to improve productivity in your personal and business life, with very practical examples. At the end of the day, mastering technology is an important advantage for every individual and organization to have.

Technology and productivity in business

Technology as an organizational productivity killer

Almost all modern companies are tech companies in one way or another. Technology is an important enabler of so many things an organization does, from innovation, product management, marketing, sales, customer service, operations and so on.

Being on top of new technology trends, like moving to the cloud, AI, IoT, VR etc. is simply mandatory today.

The most important competitive advantage of any company is their people and teams, including their tech and digital competences. Tech skills are becoming one of the most important hard skills to possess besides domain industry skills and soft skills.

In organizations, productivity can mainly suffer in two ways:

  1. The work is poorly organized and instead of working on creating value for customers, employees waste time on the internet or do low-value activities. To avoid that, learn how to be a highly organized manager.
  2. Employees suffer as a result of having low tech skills due to a lack of training, and consequently they are slow and confused when using different software solutions.

Technology as an organizational productivity enhancer

Technology can be one of the greatest productivity enhancers for any organization. Of course, it’s not easy to stay on top of all the technology trends, but it’s mandatory for almost any organization in order to stay competitive. 

That also means constant investments in new hardware and software, as well as the tech competences of management and employees.

If employed correctly, technology can be one of the biggest drivers of innovation, productivity, and progress in every organization. Here are a few examples of how:

Example 1: A company can buy online courses for all their employees and reserve some learning time every month, making sure employees’ competences stay sharp. 

Example 2: With the use of software for different business functions, such as sales (CRM), finance (ERP), operations (PM) etc., management efficiency can be greatly improved, including delegating, collaborating, information flow, data integration and so on. 

Example 3: With the use of cloud time & attendance and project time tracking tools, advanced HR analytics are available to manage the workforce properly, and processes like absence management, staff scheduling, and payroll processing are optimized.

Example 4: An organization with data-driven marketing can employ digital analytics to measure the success (conversions) of different digital marketing efforts.

Example 5: Remote work tools such as online conferencing, online collaboration, chat and others can be used to provide a more modern and flexible workspace.

And there are hundreds of other cases showing how technology can improve personal and organisational productivity. Technology is like fire; you can cook a meal with it, or you can get burned. Make sure you use technology in your company in the right way.

Technology and productivity in your personal life

Technology as a personal productivity killer

Let’s start with a few concrete examples of how technology can kill your productivity:

Example 1: As we all do, you probably love your laptop, tablet, phone, and maybe even your smart watch and smart TV. But when you let all these lovely devices constantly ring and send you notifications, they distract you from doing real deep work or forging deep connections with people.

Example 2: With one click you have access to all the knowledge humans have accumulated, but you use all of your lovely devices to browse funny cat photos or daily news on several different web portals.

Example 3: You have a slow computer, full of malware, unorganized folders, and it takes you a decade to find the right file to work on. Not good.

Example 4: You’re spending time with the person you love; they’re explaining something important to you, but you are constantly checking social networks on your phone, afraid you’ll miss out on something. It might not seem so, but the other person is definitely feeling rejected and ignored. That’s how technology can be killing your relationships.

But it doesn’t have to be so. If you don’t let react to every stimulus that is sent your way by electronic devices and take a proactive approach to it, technology can be a great productivity enhancer. Let’s look at a few examples of the brighter side of technology.

Technology as a personal productivity enhancer

Here are a few scenarios in which using tech leads to improvements in productivity:

Example 1: You decide to listen to audio books during your commute, and your car becomes a university on wheels.

Example 2: You delete all social networks from your phone and install apps for reading and watching different online courses. You turn your mobile phone into an educational device, and maybe you even install a new productivity app to help organize yourself better.

Example 3: You learn new software that enables you to do your work faster or deliver even more value to your customers. You maybe learn to code, design, or shoot videos. With every new skill you acquire, your productivity skyrockets, and so do your chances of success.

Example 4: Instead of checking “acquaintances” on social networks for hours and hours, you spend a limited amount of time on them, purely for the goal of connecting with people all over the globe that you can’t meet in person. You also combine different communication channels, such as in-person conversation, messages, video calls etc. to make your current interpersonal relationships even stronger. And when you’re spending time with someone you deeply care about, you make sure the phone is not interrupting the interaction.

Example 5: You track your freelance work with project time tracking tool like My Hours. In that way, you make sure you spend your time wisely and maximize your billable hours.

If you follow the advice in the cases mentioned above, the quality of your relationships will improve dramatically, and so will your productivity, and that’s a proactive approach to time and technology management.

A proactive approach to technology management

At some point, we all have an important choice to make: will you be the one managing technology, or will you let technology manage you? Will technology work for you, or will you work for technology? 

None of us should be a slave to tech and we should all make sure that we’re on the right side of the equation, meaning that technology works in our favour.

This might not be so easy to achieve, since devices and apps are so addictive, but being in charge of technology has a great influence on the quality of our lives and productivity. 

So, have regular time away from technology, delete all unnecessary apps, don’t use technology to waste time on entertainment or (fake) news sites, avoid multitasking, and make sure technology is not distracting you when you spend time with people or do deep work.

On top of putting strict limits to technology use, it’s extremely beneficial to learn to master search engines, different software solutions, and applications that are important in your industry, and to use different apps to manage your time better, create to‑do lists, and so on. 

In this way we make sure technology is making us more productive and improving our quality of life.

Technology detox – take time away from all the tech

With all the benefits technology brings to our lives, one of the biggest problems it carries is that it can be super addictive. 

At the click of a button, you have access to an endless feed of news, entertainment, social connections, mail and other information. As well as that, you can basically take your office (work) with you no matter where you go (except maybe to the pool).

Often, we may think that we are taking time off to recover, but in reality we are not. Being on vacation and obsessively checking e-mail, news feeds, and social networks every 5 minutes doesn’t really amount to having time off. In fact, doing that is the worst possible option, because you’re neither working nor completely resting.

You may recharge your batteries slightly, but not nearly as much as you could if you were resting completely.

It’s absolutely true that jobs are becoming more and more demanding and require us to be available, at least via email, even when we’re on vacation, but if you want to stay at the peak of your productivity in the long term, there must be periods when you completely disconnect, even if only for a short period of time.

That’s called “technology detox”. Too much of anything, even good things, becomes toxic. The average person checks their smart phone a few hundred times a day. A few hundred times. Doing that continuously day after day, week after week, month after month and even year after year of course has negative consequences. 

There are many studies which clearly show that if you don’t manage technology, but instead technology manages you (meaning you have zero discipline about when and how much you use technology), then sooner or later you may start suffering from an inability to focus, concentrate, and prioritize important tasks. You can also damage your eyesight, worsen your posture, and lose the connection with your inner self.

Therefore, it’s extremely important that you regularly take the time off and completely away from your digital devices. No smart phones, no notebooks, no netbooks, no tablets, no desktop computers, no smart watches, and no TV. The only device allowed is an e-book reader like a Kindle, but solely for reading books, not for browsing the internet or anything of that nature.

Here are my minimum requirements for my technology detox, when I turn off all devices that need electricity:

  • One day every month
  • One weekend every quarter
  • One week during the summer vacation

Going off the grid isn’t easy, but after a day or two, something magical happens.

  • You really become completely relaxed
  • You become more aware of your surroundings (nature, environment …) 
  • You can pay a lot more attention to the people you meet
  • You start feeling much more connected to yourself
  • You can think better
  • You can enjoy life more by being more present in the moment
  • You stop worrying about other people
  • You can really feel your batteries being recharged

Try it, and you’ll be surprised how much good a technology detox can do for you. It’s part of “putting down the saw”, meaning taking enough time to rest and recover so you are at peak productivity when you go back to work.

If you manage technology and not vice versa, then it’s an incredible tool to leverage in order to work, connect, create and even have fun in your personal and professional life. Make sure you and your organization are on the right side of the tech equation.

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