Time Saver Or Time Thief?

In today’s increasingly busy world we often find ourselves desperate to try anything and everything that will help us save time, manage tasks efficiently, and automate various processes that take up a lot of our time when done manually. Different technologies on the market promise us just that; but do these software/applications really improve our productivity levels and help us save time?

The truth of the matter is that technology can either stunt your productivity or help you leverage it to your benefit, and it is often difficult to tell which of the two effects it is having on your life. This article will help you identify whether your use of technology is actually helping to develop your time management skills, or disrupting the successful management of your time (and therefore hindering your well-being, productivity levels and path to success).

Technology – A Time Saving Tool

Both technological hardware and software offer us countless opportunities to not only effectively manage our time, but also to actually save time. You don’t have to be a “techie” in order to understand and use different forms of technology or to benefit from its conveniences. Most of us have taken advantage of most of the following benefits that technology offers us in some form or other:

1. Portability and Flexibility: Technological gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, etc., come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can now be used virtually any time and anywhere. Because of this, you can take advantage of some otherwise idle time (on your way to/from work, for example) to engage in some productive activity – this can be a real time saver!

2. Time Management Applications and Tools: There are countless “apps” that have been designed specifically to help us with our time management and scheduling problems. Apps such as online calendars and scheduling software such as Doodle, can help us save invaluable time on tasks that would normally take quite a bit of time and effort.

3. Web-based Collaborative and Shared Projects/Documents: Now, instead of having to physically meet up with a person or team (spending time scheduling a meeting, commuting to the meeting location, etc.) in order to share some important information, you can easily send messages to large groups of people, automate many tedious tasks, and share documents and projects online.

4. Data Storage and Analysis: Instead of time consuming filing systems and information storage that is not only time consuming but also prone to human error, storing data online is a much quicker and safer option! Various applications also provide data analysis tools that can automate time consuming evaluations and analyses.

Technology – A Time Thief

The above points seem to show very clearly that technology can help us both manage and save time, but this is not always entirely the case. Even though technology offers us the chance to save time, the results of using technology are very often to the contrary. It’s important to ask ourselves at what point technology become a time thief. The points below are some of the identifying behaviours of an individual who has allowed technology to take control of their lives to the point that it seizes to become a beneficial time saving tool.

1. Spending Too Much Time Browsing: It is easy to lose the balance between knowing what you want and looking specifically for that, and exploring all the options available to you. The internet provides endless browsing opportunities, and it is easy to get sucked into the pattern of constantly feeling the need to keep browsing because you never know what you’ll find.

2. The Collector’s Instinct: The are so many amazing apps out there, no one can deny that. One of the best ways to find apps that are most suited to your needs is to do some research and browse. Unfortunately, during our browsing sessions, we may start to download many more apps than we actually need, or will indeed use. Collecting too many apps on its own is not the problem, but once you begin spending too much time operating and using the apps, it can become an incredibly time consuming addiction.

3. The Work-Life Balance Struggle: Arlie Hochschild (a renowned sociologist) has written in detail about the negative effects that technology can have on our work-life balance. She believes that because technology allows us to be available at any place and any time, it has blurred the boundary between work and personal life, and allowed work to encroach on all our non-work-related activities. This makes time management increasingly difficult, and particularly makes finding time to focus on our well-being an all-too-common challenge.

How To Use Technology More Productively

Technology does not have to be a necessary evil; when used carefully, it can help you manage your time, and therefore take a proactive role in assuming control of your life. Here are a few tips on how you can make technology work in your favour, instead of letting it become one of the major time thieves in your life:

1. Take Notes: Make a note of how much time you spend using different apps, you may be surprised at the results!

2. Plan: Don’t only use technology to help you manage your time, but let your use of technology be a part of your time management schedule/routine. For example, set specific times for checking and answering your emails, this will help you avoid time consuming distractions.

3. Don’t Forget The 80/20 Rule: This principle suggests that 80% of your outcomes/achievements will be the result of 20% of your work/input. You can apply this principle to almost everything in life, including our communication and use of technology. Think of it this way, 20% of your emails will have 80% of the importance of all your emails – it may be useful to create a separate email address for the contacts that you know will always have urgent, or important information. You can also apply this to the time that you designate to the use of different apps!

4. Automation: Before you begin carrying out a task manually, always inquire about whether there is a tool or app that can help you automate the task in order to save you time!

It is obvious that while technology can have some amazing time saving benefits, it can also have many negative side effects in regard to time management. Using technology in a productive way does not come naturally – you need to make a real effort for it to help in your time management routines.

Use the above tips to make sure that you do not allow technology to become a time thief, but rather a time saver that will improve your productivity and time management skills!

If you missed the earlier tips – read time management tips 1 and time management tips 2 and time management tips 3 and time management tips 4

To your Success!   Kirstin ODonovan

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