The Great Technological Leap
Barely 30 years ago, your office desk would be virtually unrecognisable to what it now. There would be a phone, maybe a Rolodex (Google it), and perhaps a blotting-pad. That is it. The advent of new technology has transformed our lives in ways we can barely comprehend, and at the same time, in ways we take completely for granted.
Fax machines were once hailed as powerful innovations for their ability to transmit documents electronically. But today they are extinct, as Cloud technology and scanners allow the same process to be conducted digitally. In fact, as new technologies have allowed more business processes to go paperless, most paper-based technologies have lost importance as essential business tools.
Thirty years ago, office workers were informed of news, policies and project updates with paper memos. Those print messages gave way to email, and today, many teams communicate via instant message, text, social media or intranets. In addition, while face-to-face meetings were once essential for collaborating in groups with colleagues or partners, videoconferencing technology makes it possible for people to work together without ever needing to travel or meet in person. Today, online tools such as Skype facilitate web conferencing and allow people in different locations to collaborate and view the same presentation in real-time.
Your humble laptop desktop PC or Mac is a tool so powerful it would be unfathomable barely a generation ago. At the centre of it all is the advent of the Internet. To today’s generation, who have never existed without it, it is hard to overestimate just how much of an impact it has had on all our lives. But is it too much technology? Do you feel that you are in charge of the technological marvels at your fingertips, or do you have a sneaking suspicion that technology controls you, like an episode of Black Mirror? Are you tech-savvy? Or do you routinely put masking tape over your webcam camera, just in case?
Do You Feel Helpless at the Hands of Technology?
How do we, as a culture, prevent technology from being the boss of us, and how do we, personally, take back control?
It feels like the theme of battling ‘tech addiction’ is gaining momentum right now. It is a logical and emotional, reaction to the ways in which technology has impacted our lives. We have fake news (and claims of fake news) running rampant because we do not understand where and how information is getting to us, and we have a new generation of young people who have zero memory of living without screens being dominant sources of information and entertainment. The effects of technology — both positive and negative — are setting in.
The sheer amount of technology we surround ourselves with routinely can lead to some people being very easily distracted. For some, shutting the door to their office may be enough to help sustain their attention. For others, not logging into personal emails and social media, turning off cell phones, or blocking non-essential websites are better strategies for maintaining focus. To begin the process of eliminating distractions, go about your day as you normally would. Every time your attention is taken from your task, make a note of what it is that distracted you. Over a few days, you will see patterns or categories of distractions emerge, and identifying these will help you decide how to avoid them. Remember, changing how you work will take time, so be patient as you eliminate distractions from your workday – competing priorities and urgent tasks are often a fact of life, and sometimes, removing all distractions is just not practical 100% of the time. But self-discipline will help you maintain your focus in the face of nonessential interruptions.
Technology is there to serve us, not the other way around. Be sensible with technology. Do not binge simply because you can. Most tech CEO’s admit they limit their exposure to technology to a degree most of us would find bizarre. Some ban it completely from their children. What does that say? If you allow technology to control, you will become less productive, less effective and ultimately lose your focus and in the worse cases, you could even lose your job. Be wise with technology.