When laptops first appeared,
computer manufactures called them “freedom machines” with ads showing
smiling users inputting at the poolside and the beach. We don’t see these ads
anymore as people are becoming increasingly aware that technology isn’t
increasing our leisure time -- we are working harder than ever! With voice messaging, email, pagers, palm devices, laptops,
and more, we have become very adept at multitasking, but it has been at a
significant price – the price of our leisure time. We are becoming
time-starved as a nation of workers.
We are, at the same time,
experiencing an explosion of new information to the point of overload. According
to a recent research paper by Cyveillance,
there are more than 2.1 billion unique pages with 7.3 million pages added daily.
Some of these pages are extremely useful tools for meeting professionals.
However, the vast, sprawling nature of the Web has been compared to
drinking out of a fire hose and not being sure of the source of the water.
Where do you even start?
So, here is the challenge:
How do you adapt and, yes, even embrace, technology to improve productivity and
save time, when you are time-starved and information overloaded?
There is hope out there,
however. I offer my suggestions of where to start.
Technology can be your friend
can save you time.
Companies and individuals
must make a commitment for computer and other technology support and training.
Once you know how to find things efficiently on the Web, for example, it is like
having an entire reference library at your fingertips. Efficient use of word
processing, spreadsheet and database tools can improve productivity.
Online meeting site selection tools can allow you to toss out your stacks
of hotel guides and brochures. Meeting planning software can streamline and
automate many meeting planning tasks.
To take advantage of them
involves a personal commitment to change. Resistance to change, however, is the
natural response as is illustrated by telephone answering machines. When they
made their appearance more than a decade ago, answering machines were met with
skepticism. Comments such as “I hate to talk to a machine – it’s so
impersonal” were common. Now, if
someone doesn’t have voice mail, it
seems inconvenient. This complete
turnabout in public perception represents the adoption curve: the time it takes
for people to overcome their natural resistance to change and get used to a new
way of doing things. As the pace of change increases, it is important to become
an embracer rather than a resistor in order to survive in the new economy.
As technology advances, it will become easier.
and technology in general will become continually easier to use. Intelligent
agents (software programs) will assist you in your in tasks from surfing,
commerce, and day-to-day business operations. Voice recognition will become much
more widely used. Wireless palms, cell phones and geo-positioners will merge to
make a much more useful devices. Car
computers will not only give us step-by-step driving directions, but also find
the best route to avoid the traffic tie-ups. Ultimately, the telephone,
computer, and TV will merge into an information center responding to voice
commands with access to nearly every book and film ever made.
In the meantime, however, we must get used to the fact that technology
change is happening those that embrace it will be at an advantage.
3. We must learn to turn off the switch at times.
have become a nation of workaholics. We are multitasking very well, and have
become the most productive nation on earth (84% of all pages are U.S. based).
However, as Henry David Thoreau prophetically stated more than 150 years ago
“Men (and women) have become tools of their tools.” The problem is that we can’t run an engine at redline
indefinitely – we must strive to establish balance in our lives.
Time must be set aside for our families, for friends, for recharging, for
leisure activities. Learn to use technology to help you be more efficient on the
job, but also, learn when to turn off the cell phone, email, and other
gadgets. I believe that using technology wisely also involves knowing when to
not use it.
This digital revolution we are experiencing is a
basic change in the way people communicate and transact. It will go down in
history as being at least as profound as the industrial revolution.
While it will take a while for everyone to figure it out, the
opportunities for those that adapt and work with it are great.
At the same time, however, we must balance our lives and not become tools
of our tools.