How time-saving tools gamble with your productivity

You need to be able to focus.Remember back in the good ol’ days when the advent of the computer lead to pipe dreams about the “paperless office”?

Me, too.

That’s just one of the more amusing examples of how technology was supposed to improve our productivity, efficiency, and general quality of life.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my technology (at least when it’s working properly). The instant gratification of Internet searches is very…gratifying; being able to use Skype or Google Hangout to look into the eyes of clients and colleagues in a different state or even a different country is energizing; and it’s a huge relief to be able to schedule dozens of tweets in bulk with just a few clicks in HootSuite Pro.

How you use your tools is what determines your productivity.

AND…You get to be very, very intentional about what tools you use. You’ll regret it deeply if you purchase them primarily for the “gee-whiz” factor, or because someone talked you into it, or because you’re looking for the silver bullet that will take responsibility for business development off your shoulders and put it onto the technology’s virtual ones.

Why is regret such a likely outcome? Because you face a learning curve with any new tool. When you have strategically and consciously evaluated how the tool will improve your productivity and propel you to your stated goals, that learning curve is worthwhile. However, if you’ve lept into using this new toy without knowing how it will serve you, the time you spend learning it is likely to be wasted, or at the very least better spent on activities whose ROI has already been demonstrated.

Just because a tool is highly effective doesn’t mean you should be the one to use it. An ugly case in point (and one reason I feel highly qualified to write this post) involves the need to transfer my WordPress-based web site from one hosted account to another (it’s a long story). Even if I had kept track of how much time I spent trying to figure out FTP programs and other technological esoterica, I’d be too embarrassed to share the figures with you. Suffice to say that I wasted way too much time doing something far outside my realm of expertise. I drove my stress level through the roof, added to the down time on my site, and failed to do the little things – like client work – that only I can do for my business. Lesson learned: Farm out the work that I stink at!

So what are some ways you’ve found to ensure that you have the upper hand over your technology, instead of vice versa? How do you decide what “productivity tools” to say yes to and which to run away from?

(By the way, thanks to Rob! for posting his papery desk image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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4 Responses to How time-saving tools gamble with your productivity

  1. Pingback: Do you operate by design or by default? | Stepping Into Big

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