|Does Technology Make You Productive?|
By Stever Robbins
Monday, 9th May 2011
People often confuse the tools they use with their results; a car can drive faster than a person can run, yet I've seen people spend 10 minutes circling the parking lot trying to get a parking space 200 feet closer. (They could walk the 200 feet in about 30 seconds.) The logic, if you want to call it that, is, "since a car is faster than walking, if I'm using a car I must be saving time."
When it comes to technology as a productivity tool, this problem explodes. We assume a technology solution is better than a paper solution. For some things, this is absolutely true. For others things, it isn't.
First of all, what works for a person depends in part on their personal style. My author friend Shari writes on her laptop. She's a whiz at word processing software, and very comfortable writing and editing using technology. Yet another author I know composes only on a pad of paper. He finds a computer distracting, and with a blank sheet of paper, he is very at home.
Second, most people only consider a tiny segment of a task when choosing their tool. In the driving example above, the task has two parts: getting from home to the store, and getting from the parking lot to the store entrance. A car is faster for the first phase, so the driver simply carried it through to the second phase, even though it was the slower choice.
Lastly, people almost never factor the time and effort cost of using the tool into their calculation. The hours I've spent wrestling with my Smartphone to get it to synchronize with my computer (and recovering when it fails!) have probably dwarfed any actual time savings I've ever had from carrying all that data around with me. Just yesterday, I spent 45 minutes on a support call to get a replacement phone, since mine is having keyboard problems. That's time devoted to the tool, not to my actually being productive.
When choosing a tool for yourself, consider all three aspects: which tool meshes best with your personal workstyle when you're doing the task? That's the tool that will be easiest to use and "flow" with. Consider the entire task you're doing, not just the part of the task the tool addresses. Make sure using your tool will optimize your entire task.
And lastly, remember to factor in the money, time, and stress that's involved in maintaining the tool itself.
© 2011 by Stever Robbins. All rights reserved in all media. Reprinted with permission.
Stever Robbins is a serial entrepreneur and a top #1 iTunes business podcaster. A graduate of Harvard Business School and MIT, he provides time management and personal productivity products and services through.