Productive or Needlessly Busy? 9 Signs That May Indicate Your Technology Is Making You Less Productive.
Advancements in technology are often made for the sole purpose of improving convenience and productivity. These days, there are thousands of software applications and tools built exactly for that purpose. However, it's important to understand that it can be easy to get bogged down in the use of such technology--to the point where you could actually be hurting your productivity instead of improving it.
The Difference Between Busy and Productive
Being productive means getting things done, whereas being busy just means that you're occupied with something without necessarily finishing any tasks. For example, checking your emails and reading through new emails is busywork. Actually answering important emails is being productive.
How Being Busy Can Make You Less Productive
Using the previous example, there are many apps that you can use for your email to help prioritize important emails, to set reminders to answer those emails and more. However, this can also result in you spending way too much time perusing your email inbox. In the time you spent using these tools, you may have already answered several important emails.
9 Signs Your Tech Is Only Making You Busy
It can be difficult to determine if you're using so many tools meant to benefit your productivity that you are simply becoming too busy managing these tools, thereby causing you to become unproductive. The following are nine signs the technology you're using is actually hurting your productivity:
You're Not Sure Why You're Using It
It's not hard to find apps that supposedly help save time and make life more convenient. You'll find list after list online of apps you should download. You might read a brief description of a promising app and be convinced that it can help in some way--but if you don't actually know why you're using it, simply using it is probably hurting your productivity.
It's Distracting You From Using Your Skills
Some tools are meant to help make your job easier. For example, spelling and grammar checking tools are quite helpful for writers. However, some tools also highlight sentences that are a little too difficult to read or that have too many adverbs. Relying on such tools can make you lazier at your job, which could actually hurt your skillset. While it might be aiding productivity in the short term, the detriment to your skills will hurt your productivity long term.
You Have To Manually Adjust Results
If the technology you're using highlights your productivity issues without actually helping to resolve them, it means that you have to manually adjust results on your own, which can take up valuable time that could be better spent on other tasks.
You Check Your Emails More Than Twice a Day
If you've downloaded a bunch of apps to help organize and prioritize your emails that send you notifications throughout the day, you may have made checking and answering emails more time-consuming than it should be. You really shouldn't be checking your email more than twice a day.
You're Unable To Set Limits
If you're unable to set time limits for different tasks, you may end up spending an inordinate amount of time on one task as a result of an app you're using, and cutting into more valuable areas of productivity .
You Get Too Many Automatic Reminders
If you're constantly getting reminders from a variety of apps, then you are using too many apps and need to find a different way to streamline your workflow. When you get a reminder, you're going to check the app and whatever work is associated with this, thereby distracting you from whatever you were working on at the time.
You're Constantly Distracted by the Internet
The Internet can be an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to doing research for your job; however, it can be a little too easy to become distracted. If you find yourself on websites that have nothing to do with your job without even realizing it, then your Internet use is probably hurting your productivity.
There are many technological tools built to help make it easier for you to multitask. However, when you multitask, it generally takes you longer to get things done, whether you're leveraging such multitask tools or not. Instead, you should be focusing on one task at a time. Otherwise, you could end up working on numerous tasks at once without actually finishing any of them.
Lack of Training
One of the biggest issues people have with so-called productivity-enhancing tools is that they haven't educated themselves on how to use them properly. You can't just download an app and assume that it will automatically help make you be more productive -- you need to learn how the technology works and how you should use it to benefit from it.
How Tech Can Make You More Productive When Used Correctly
It may seem like technology can be enormously counterintuitive when it comes to being productive; however, when properly leveraged, certain tech can be very beneficial. It's about using the right tech for the right tasks and making sure your productivity is improving as a result and not being hurt. Essentially, don't just load up on apps and other tech and make the assumption that it will make you more productive as it probably won't. However, if you look for tech that will improve productivity for specific tasks, you're more likely to find something that will actually help you.
When it comes to determining what type of tech can actually benefit your productivity, look for tech that's focused on automating basic tasks, helping keep you organized and improving availability to employers, employees, co-workers, and customers.
Automation can be a real time saver as long as you're not automating important tasks that require your careful attention or that are extremely important to the operation of your company. If a mistake is made because you automated an important task instead of handling it yourself, it may take you even more time to go back and fix the problem, thereby negating the usefulness of having automated the task.
To determine if automation can help you become more productive, you need to consider three things:
Does the task require your attention to get done properly?
Does the task take up a lot of time to complete?
Does the task require personalization?
If the answer to all of these is no, then automation tools can probably assist you in improving productivity. For example, let's say you open up your email early in the morning and find five new emails that you have to answer. You don't want to answer them right away because they are from potential clients in different time zones. Using automation, you can write your replies all at once, then schedule them to be sent out at different times of the day. This way, you don't have to waste time and abandon other tasks to manually send your replies out throughout the day.
Tools that can help you stay organized will allow you to stick to your schedule and get your tasks done without being easily distracted. There are many tools available to help organize the different facets of your job.
For example, if you travel for work regularly, expense reports are a fact of life. Instead of wasting time and effort collecting receipts and tallying up expenses back at the office, an expense organization app will allow you to scan receipts as well as code and report your expenses.
If you are working with a team in your workplace, you might want to use a task management tool that allows you to set up a project, assign tasks to different teammates and follow each other's progress. Team projects often become disorganized because nobody can keep track of who is responsible for what and whether certain tasks have been completed or not. Tools such as these help your team stay organized.
Determining your availability for clients and coworkers can be a bit of a hassle, especially when you're trying to coordinate schedules to find a time that's convenient for everyone involved. Fortunately, there are many tools that can help make these tasks much less time-consuming.
First, there are programs that allow you to interact with team members via online chat in real time without having to schedule a meeting, while document sharing programs allow you to share and edit documents with others in real time, which negates the need to waste time sending and printing individual emails.
When meetings are necessary, there are several tools out there that allow you to share your schedules. Some tools will allow you to show open slots in your schedule, which others can then book, thereby eliminating the need for a back and forth to find a time to meet. Group meetings are even more challenging, which is why tools that allow several members to upload their schedules so that you can easily identify time slots that are convenient for everyone are so helpful.
Take Stock of Your Technology and Make Sure to Use it Right
There are countless tools out there that were created with the goal of helping to improve productivity--and many of them do. However, if you don't know how the tools you're using are helping to improve your productivity, there's a good chance they aren't . In fact there's a risk that they may actually be hurting your productivity.
Evaluate the tools you are using and determine how they are actually helping you. Instead of looking for tools that advertise productivity boosts, identify areas in which your productivity can be improved and then look for tools that offer actual solutions to these specific issues.