Something drastic happened to me the other day. You see, I had misplaced my mobile device. Now, I know, some of you will be saying “and the big deal is……what?” while others will be gripping that mobile device you are reading this on just that slightly tighter. Following the initial panic, a moment of shear frustration set in. For the life of me I could just not find it – frustrating as I knew it was somewhere in the home. So just ring it, I hear you say, duh! I did, and got my friendly voicemail message, before I remembered that I had the previous night been intending to recharge it. Taking the home and car apart I did.
It is frustrating as these little devices are just so damn useful. In the end I decided to go into the office minus my lifeline device. Too much to do and will intend to find it later. Got there and fired up my laptop and synced all the apps and data I have to help me be productive on a daily basis.
However with all these things, it is not the situation we find ourselves in that is key, but rather how we react to them. Not having the mobile device, I proceeded to review all of my systems. Let’s just say that I took this as a good time to review my personal DR (Disaster Recovery) procedures. What about some of the offline systems (read paper and pen to do list here for example) – were they robust enough? Was I really reliant on technology that much? More importantly did I get enough value from technology or was some of it just a distraction? And so forth.
So does it help to be more productive? Well yes of course it does. However it was a good excercise and learned two important lessons. Neither are rocket science but the obvious is not always obvious these days. The first is that technology definetly blurs the boundaries between my work and personal life. It has been proven that this can and does increase stress levels, due to the ‘always on’ scenarios. Technology needs to be managed properly and ensure that your input, distraction or stress levels do not outweigh the benefits. You start sending work emails at 22:00 at night and this just communicates that you will be available around those times also. Setting the right boundaries is important and these will be different from person to person. Suffice to say that I made a number of adjustments. The second lesson is that there is a time and place for everything. My device provides me with an array of benefits but it can also be a real distraction. Again boundaries is where this comes into play. Some of the installed apps I am no longer acquainted with or certainly no longer on the home screen!
My first meeting brought this all home to me. I sat down with 11 others but we were waiting for the final person to arrive. I automatically reached for my mobile, and I got reminded that it was still in the home (hopefully). I then looked around the room to see most people staring at their screen, catching up on emails or whatever. Nothing wrong with that of course but instead I took the chance to catch up quickly with another colleague on another project. Perhaps at time technology stops us from personal communicating and connecting with others.
It brings benefits for sure but don’t let it distract you or hinder your personal interactions with others.